VER­DICT

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - CAR GUIDE - Call Triv­ett Clas­sic BMW, Church St, Par­ra­matta on 9841 8880.

The con­vert­ible lacks the clin­i­cal pre­ci­sion of its coupe brethren but is more fun be­cause of it. Ex­tro­vert be­hav­iour to match the looks is wholly ap­pro­pri­ate for the po­tent soft top road­ster. the M235i – the lat­ter is the first BMW con­vert­ible to earn the M Per­for­mance up­grades and it’s the one we’re driv­ing.

The only real ri­val to the 2 Se­ries con­vert­ible is Audi’s A3 cabri­o­let line-up, head­lined by the S3 per­for­mance vari­ant.

The all-wheel-drive S3 is half a sec­ond slower to 100km/h than the BMW … but it’s also $15,000 cheaper.

ON THE ROAD

HERE’S another free piece of ad­vice for would-be con­vert­ible con­verts: keep clear of live­stock trucks.

The smell and the seep­age don’t in­ter­act well with top-down driv­ing.

All of the above is still the case in a reg­u­lar car but with­out a roof and win­dows the im­pact is more pro­nounced.

Top-down driv­ing tends to ruf­fle the hair un­less the op­tional $570 wind de­flec­tor is fit­ted but sur­pris­ingly lit­tle cold air is driven far­ther down.

Even on brisk morn­ings – and by brisk I mean sin­gle-digit tem­per­a­tures – I was happy to drop the M235i’s lid and let the seat heaters and air­con shield me from the chill.

UN­DER THE BON­NET

THE six-cylin­der turbo is a bas­tion of the Beemer range, used in ev­ery- thing from the 1 Se­ries to the X5 – it is in­sane fun in any ap­pli­ca­tion, es­pe­cially with an M Per­for­mance badge af­fixed to the bootlid.

In most ap­pli­ca­tions this pow­er­house is tuned for 225kW/400Nm but the wick has been turned up for 240kW/450Nm here.

The is­sue then isn’t how fast the M235i goes but how quickly the en­gine’s torque can flex the com­pro­mised chas­sis.

And com­pro­mised is a rel­a­tive term, given the amount of but­tress­ing and brac­ing hid­den un­der the con­vert­ible’s pan­els, not to men­tion the fact it runs on low­ered and stiff­ened M Sport sus­pen­sion.

It takes third world road sur­faces and se­ri­ous speed be­fore you can feel the body flex.

Even then it is more shimmy than shake and cer­tainly not go­ing to throw you off line mid-cor­ner.

What can catch you out is the en­gine’s will­ing­ness to spin and slide the rear tyres in Sport Plus mode.

It is pro­gres­sive and end­lessly re­peat­able with­out re­quir­ing the re­ac­tions of a For­mula One driver in the front seat.

Find a se­ries of corners that haven’t been turned into cor­ru­gated bi­tu­men and the M235i is as much fun as you can ask for this side of $100K.

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