The BMW 430i Convertible Luxury’s cabin is extremely quiet, free of wind noise, squeaks and rattles that are common to open-top cars
If you are a producer of high-quality automobiles that are really fun to drive, what’s the best way to tell people about it?
For German luxury carmaker BMW, whose famous slogan is “Sheer Driving Pleasure”, the answer is kind of simple – just let them drive your cars.
And that’s one of the reasons for the staging of the BMW 4 Series Driving Experience at Bira International Circuit in Pattaya recently.
The driving event was held for both the automotive media as well as prospective buyers, whom I reckon would find it hard not to place an order for the new model after lapping the 2.4-km circuit several times. While the star of the show was the fire-breathing M4 which is priced over Bt8 million, the more affordable 4 Series models that are initially available for the Thai market are the 430i Coupe and Convertible. These are the upper petrol models, and diesel customers will have to wait for a while.
Both are also available in Luxury and M Sport trims, with prices ranging from Bt3.499 million to Bt3.799 million for the Coupe and Bt3.999 million to Bt4.299 million for the Convertible.
The facelifted 4 Series not only gets sharper styling but also revised suspension that delivers even better performance. The new hexagonal LED headlights also come with LED foglamps as standard and LED lamps are also fitted at the rear for the first time.
The lower front end of the Luxury and M Sport lines are slightly different, with the first featuring chrome on the apron. I find it kind of cheesy compared to the sportier M Sport, but for a convertible, I say it’s suitable.
The Luxury comes well-equipped with adaptive headlight with high beam assistance, 8.8-inch touchscreen, navigation system and cruise control with braking function, for Bt300,000 extra, the M Sport package offers the sporty goodies such as paddle shifters, M Sport suspension with variable sport steering, M aerodynamics package and glass roof.
From the BMW headquarters in Bangkok, I was assigned to the 430i Convertible Luxury and shared the drive to Bira. The first thing that was impressive about this car is the extremely quiet cabin, free of wind noise, squeaks and rattles that are common to open-top cars. Even at high speeds, it was possible to carry out conversations without having to raise your voice – excellent.
At the heart of the 430i is a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that pumps out 252hp and 350Nm. It is a pity that the trademark in-line-six isn’t offered, but the 4-pot motor doesn’t disappoint. It revs up smoothly and delivers a nice tune, with 0-100km/h taking 6.3 seconds while the top speed is claimed at 250km/h.
Thanks to the turbocharger, there is plenty of grunt from this 2.0-litre motor, which also boasts an average fuel economy of 15.6km/litre and eco car CO2 level of 147g/km. Maximum torque is available right from 1,450rpm to 4,800tpm, meaning that you don’t need to get to the sweet spot to get the best performance. I love BMW gearboxes – the 8-speed Servotronic transmission provides smooth shifts and is highly enthusiastic in sporty driving.
The 430i Convertible Luxury gets 19-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels wearing low-profile 225/40 tyres up front and 255/35 at the rear. Nevertheless, the ride is pretty comfortable (an improvement over the previous model) while sacrificing some of the dynamics offered in the M Sport package.
There is all sorts of airbags (including head airbags for all 4 occupants) as well as rollover protection system within the headrests.
At Bira, participants took turns lapping the circuit with both 430i models as well as the single M4 unit imported just for this event.
Organisers made sure that participants get to experience the performance of the cars, with eight cars being divided into two high-speed convoys, with instructors surprisingly driving the 330e (yes, they led an M4 with a hybrid).
Unfortunately, there was not much time as the group had to head back to Bangkok, and we actually drove each car hard for just a lap, as the other two laps in each round consisted of warm-up and cool-down laps. I would have preferred fewer car swaps and more laps.
However, the general BMW customers would definitely be impressed with the event, mastering the tricky Bira circuit with the 4 Series (and M4) and discovering the true reason behind buying a BMW.
For me, the 430i Coupe M Sport is so good on a track that I’ve asked for a test drive car for more driving after the event. More to come in the following weeks.
BMW 430i Convertible Luxury specs
Engine: 4-cylinder 16-valve with turbocharger
Max power: 252hp/5,200rpm
Max torque: 350Nm/1,450-4,800rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Average fuel consumption: 15.6km/litre
Average CO2: 147g/km
0-100km/h: 6.3 secs
Top speed 250km/h
Wheels: 19-in alloy
Tyres: 225/40 R19 (front), 255/35R19 (rear)
Price: Bt3.999 million
Distributor: BMW Group Thailand Co Ltd