I’m certain the backseats of the new BMW 430i Convertible were an afterthought, added after the designers and engineers put the finishing touches onto the car, admired their beautiful handiwork and then realised that they had missed that feature out.
Not that it detracts from the sublime driving experience of this soft-top stunner. You would think that the soft top might provide less sound insulation and invite more heat in compared to its hardtop predecessor. That isn’t the case here. BMW has built it from large panel bow elements that combine the advantages of a folding metal roof with the aesthetic appeal of fabric. The result is 18 seconds of magic, the time it takes for the soft top to expand or retract.
The problem, as with many other convertibles, is that boot space will be compromised since the roof has to hide somewhere. The 430i Convertible has only 385 litres – 300 when it’s topless – at the back, just wide enough to store a fully loaded golf bag and not much else. Still, people buy convertibles not for practicality, but to enjoy the unadulterated pleasure of cruising down the highway with the wind in their hair and Hotel California blasting out of the speakers. In this situation, the 430i Convertible is top of its class. Its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine is punchy enough to overtake with ease in any situation and the stiff chassis lets you tackle corners with aplomb.
And because BMW reckons you’ll be spending long days and nights driving the car, the interior of the 430i Convertible is the personification of comfort. The designers have ergonomically arranged the controls and the Vernasca leather sports seats feel like fluffy clouds that wrap around your body when you sit on them. The auto-extending seatbelt is a beautiful touch. You no longer have to contort your body – a boon for someone like me who’s getting increasingly inflexible with age – when strapping in.
Are there flaws with the car? Niggling ones, perhaps. I’m still not a fan of the BMW vertical kidney grille, although this might just be my Old Man Yells At Cloud moment. The M Sport Pro variant also pipes in sporty engine grunts through the sound system, which has always felt forced to me. But, as I cruised down the highway during a muggy, warm night, I realised something I haven’t felt in a while with many cars – I was having fun.