Mar 23 2009 Peter Hayward
BMW convertible is a Jekyll and Hyde character
WHEN other companies lower a car's suspension to make it more sporting, you and I get a ride as hard as concrete to go with the improved road holding and handling.
When BMW lowers a car's suspension, the handling and road holding are improved, but the ride doesn't suffer. How do they do that?
I have just hugely enjoyed driving the junior 1-Series convertible, in range-topping 135i M-sport guise. It's an absolute cracker.
It's comfortable and smooth enough to take your maiden aunt to the shops, but has a Jekyll and Hyde character which a touch of the pedal turns into a tarmac-chewing monster.
Of course, its 302 horses are tamed by multiple examples of electronic wizardry for safety's sake, but a zero to 62 time of just 5.6 seconds gives an idea of the urge.
The twin turbo six cylinder engine sounds sublime when you can hear it and, in manual six speed form, the whole is very easy to drive apart from a slightly hefty clutch.
Suffice to say that this is one of the fastest cars in the BMW stable and has astonishing road holding and handling to match.
The hood takes about 20 seconds up or down and still leaves a fair amount of boot space when stowed. Body rigidity is excellent - as you would expect from BMW.
M-sport trim beings leather and lowered suspension, plus many other touches too numerous to mention. Like all BMW's it is expensive, but residuals are excellent.
BMW 1-Series convertible
Mechanical: 302bhp, 2,979cc, 6cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.6 seconds
Combined mpg: 30
Insurance group: 18
CO2 emissions: 224g/km
BiK rating: 31%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles
Main rival: Porsche Boxster