Good: great looking, good to drive, high quality
Not so good: badge snobbery will keep sales down in Ireland
The BMW 2 Series Convertible is available now for the few Irish buyers that like open-topped cars. Shame the market is so small, as the 2 Series is perfectly proportioned for our roads and the 220d diesel model keeps running costs down too.
It's impossible to approach an Irish review of a convertible car without mentioning the weather, which will be just fine with you of course, as we love nothing better than a good natter about the weather in this country, do we? And as I write this in mid-July, I should be talking about how invigorating it was to drop the roof in the BMW 2 Series Convertible you see pictured here at every opportunity and swan about the place like I owned it. The sad fact is (and you won't need me to tell you this) that the weather this summer has thus far been, well, a bit rubbish, hasn't it? The next person that tells me we were spoiled by the last two summers won't like what I have to say in return.
But, and in spite of the shite weather, few expletives were uttered by me in my time with the 2 Series, as it's one of those cars that subtly gets under your skin, wheedling its way into your affections. I realise of course that it'll be instantly dismissed by vast hordes of car buyers. Most men won't think it manly enough; there'll be comments about hairdressers; badge snobs would rather have the cheapest 3 Series they can find rather than a mere 2 Series; and finally, more crucial than all of those: Irish people just don't buy convertibles. A mere 123 were sold in 2014, though that was double the number finding homes the year before.
So with all that acknowledged, let's cast reality aside for a moment and check out the 2 Series Convertible. We first reviewed the open-topped four-seater in Texas, powered by a petrol engine. The roof was never raised and it felt tiny amongst American traffic. Back in Dublin, however, it looks perfectly proportioned and though it's not a lot smaller than the 3 Series, it's compact enough to fit in around town. Critically for style-conscious buyers, it looks the business, even if it 'only' has a badged starting with '2' on the boot. Indeed, BMW probably replaced the 1 Series Convertible with this car for that very reason - badge snobbery.
Our test car was powered by the company's evergreen 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, in 220d guise, so it has 190hp and 400Nm of torque at its disposal. As already experienced in the cracking 2 Series Coupé, this powerplant makes for a compelling mix of low running costs and meaningful performance. It's particularly satisfying to drive when partnered with the 'Sport' automatic transmission, BMW's usual eight-speed auto with tactile paddle shifts. It's exceptional as ever and though it adds about €1,700 to the purchase price of the 220d it's cheaper to tax and theoretically better on fuel too. We'd suggest it's a premium worth paying for the driving manners alone.
And while we'd suspect that most buyers of the 2 Series Convertible won't have driving dynamics high up their list of priorities, this M Sport car can be a lot of fun. Of course it isn't as structurally stuff as the 2 Series Coupé, but it's still a bit of a hoot to drive. Admittedly the diesel engine can be a little gruff, but you soon get used to it - and the stereo is thankfully good.
Indeed, the cabin in general is lovely. All the touchpoints are tactile and the switchgear feels like it'll last forever. It's also well laid out. Rear seat space is tight, as you'd expect, and the boot isn't ginormous, but you ignore such things when you're buying a car like this. Speaking of which, we struggled to find three direct rivals to compare with the car for the Alternatives bit below. The Audi A3 Cabriolet is the only true four-seat competitor, but as it's either front- or four-wheel drive it feels completely different from behind the wheel. Not that you'll care one jot about all that when the sun finally comes out. Or it stops raining at least. Any day now.