When the Z3 first came out, I loved the idea of it. A BMW version of a Miata-like Roadster that oozed class and sophistication. To the point that BMW even released the vehicle to the public in James Bond movies. Then they released even higher-power versions of the vehicle that used the M3 powerplant and called it the M Roadster. I loved it so much I purchased one.
But then you fast-forward a few years and have kid or two. Suddenly, the practicality of using the Roadster diminishes exponentially. Could there be a suitable replacement for the Roadster that keeps the proportions small but gives a backseat and more storage space? Why yes, enter the BMW M240i Convertible. While some might say that the BMW proportions are not as macho or aggressive as the roadster, this is far from a rich sorority girl’s transportation module.
The powerplant is BMW’s 335 horsepower inline six-cylinder engine that sports a twin-scroll turbocharger. Previous BMW six-cylinder engines have used two turbocharges but this newly-designed engine uses one. However, even with the manual transmission you can’t detect turbo lag. You get smooth turbine-like power delivered all the way to redline.
Speaking of manual transmissions, you can get one! Along with an honest-to-goodness parking brake you can pull up on! Electric parking brakes are convenient in an automatic transmission, but there is nothing like the jerk-it-up-once and know you are in park feeling. Sometimes analog is best- better to leave the modern conveniences to other areas of the vehicle. For example, although my test vehicle had adaptive cruise control and lane assistance, it did not offer blind spot detection. That would be a welcome addition in this convertible with the top up to reduce blind spots. After all, you can’t design a convertible top to have the same rear glass area as a hardtop.
But when that top is down how great is life! The top takes under 30 seconds to go from driving machine to tanning machine. Although the top is cloth (a folding metal-origami top is available for more money on the 3-Series BMW vehicles), it does an excellent job of keeping the cabin quiet and blocking wind noise. I would not recommend anyone against the convertible unless they live in the harshest winter climates. With the rear glass window, it is among the best soft tops I have tested. Bonus: You do not have to flip any levers to release or stow the top. Everything is done electronically.
Another surprise is the Harman/Kardon audio system. It features 12 speakers and 360 watts of Class D power. The tuning is well done and imaging is not taken for granted. For a convertible, the subbass is surprisingly decent. We can recommend a bit more, but it will take away from trunk storage. However, we did notice an area toward the front of the trunk that would house an 8-inch woofer nicely. If you have a creative installation tech, the sound can go from pretty good to absolutely amazing with a little DSP massaging and tuning.
The iDrive interface works well. Although we prefer a touchscreen the controller is among the better ones. Just add a little subbass, tweak the nice Harman system to be all-out awesome, and add a light window film to protect you from the sun glare whether the top is up or down and you’ll be good-to-go. Of course, with the top down and windows down there is no protection from the sun. But maybe a creative installer can create a dispenser for SPF 50 built right into the center console. Life is good in the BMW M240i convertible!