The pas­sion and the power

BRIAN BAS­SETT puts heart and soul into driv­ing the new BMW 228i con­vert­ible

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

OVER time BMW has re­ceived some crit­i­cism for ap­par­ently ig­nor­ing the needs of the driv­ing en­thu­si­asts who have made the brand what it has be­come to­day.

The man­darins of mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ism point to the grand, large mo­tor ve­hi­cles made by the com­pany and ask what of the smaller, pow­er­ful sports cars for which BMW be­came fa­mous both be­fore and af­ter the Sec­ond World War.

The com­pany has an­swered this crit­i­cism with the one and now the two se­ries. Th­ese cars an­swer the pas­sion of those of us who enjoy driv­ing, and com­bine bril­liant han­dling with the raw power of twin turbo en­gines.

We thank An­thony El­lis, dealer prin­ci­pal at SMG Pi­eter­mar­itzburg for al­low­ing us to drive the car for a few en­joy­able days.

Styling

The 2- se­ries was a nat­u­ral fol­lowup to the 1- se­ries and it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore the 2- se­ries con­vert­ible ar­rived on the mar­ket.

This car is the most suc­cess­ful and pop­u­lar pre­mium model in its class, with over 130 000 units sold world­wide thus far.

The 2- se­ries con­vert­ible is just over seven cen­time­tres longer that the 1- se­ries and also 2,6 cm wider. Th­ese mea­sure­ments do not sound like much, but open up more room in­side and give the ve­hi­cle a ro­bust ap­pear­ance, with­out los­ing the svelte, fluid styling.

The car is not only beau­ti­ful, with its flared side lines, but its over­all low- slung el­e­gant sil­hou­ette em­pha­sises its sen­su­ous­ness and agility.

At the front the de­sign is all BMW, with the dis­tinc­tive kid­ney grille and slit- eyed, adap­tive head­lights.

At the rear typ­i­cal L- shaped, sin­gle- unit tail lights stress the car’s width and road hug­ging stance, while the dual ex­hausts un­der­line the sport na­ture of the over­all pack­age.

In­te­rior

The 228 we drove was equipped with leather- cov­ered, elec­tri­cally- op­er­ated sports seats, the black leather out­lined with red stitch­ing, which ac­cen­tu­ated the sporty na­ture of the ve­hi­cle.

The leather- cov­ered, tac­tile, three- spoke, multi- func­tion steer­ing wheel op­er­ated the Har­mon Kar­don six- speaker ra­dio, Aux, Blue­tooth and speed con­trol func­tions and the car was also equipped with a cen­trally-placed screen for the Sat­nav func­tion, as well as for the BMW Con­nected Drive func­tion, which turns the car into a rather ex­pen­sive com­puter.

The auto air con­di­tioner with its spe­cial con­vert­ible func­tion is also worth a men­tion.

The speedome­ter and other gauges are all typ­i­cal BMW and easy to read. The side mir­rors op­er­ate elec­tri­cally, as do the win­dows. The roof can be raised or low­ered in 20 sec­onds at speeds up to 50 km/ h.

The car looks good with its roof ei­ther up or down but it is meant to be driven with the roof down.

The rear seats are for those of slight build who will only be driv­ing in the back for a short while. In re­al­ity they are a place to pack the week’s gro­ceries and can be folded down to pro­vide, to­gether with the boot, about 300 litres of stor­age.

Safety and se­cu­rity

Some­how driv­ing in the open is a re­minder of how vul­ner­a­ble you are on our roads.

In a closed car you feel co­cooned and safe, while in a con­vert­ible, never mind how en­joy­able the ride, the road, the trucks and the ma­ni­acs seem a lot closer.

This is why it is good to note that the 228 has a wide range of safety fea­tures.

All the usual safety fea­tures are there like six airbags, ABS, EBD an­chors for child seats and seat­belts for all.

The car also has Dy­namic Sta­bil­ity Con­trol, Adap­tive Head­lights and a sys­tem of air cur­tain­ing, which chan­nels the air flow at the front apron and wheels, thus en­hanc­ing sta­bil­ity.

There is also a fully- re­cessed roll- over pro­tec­tion sys­tem so, if you roll the car, you don’t lose your head in the process.

The rear view cam­era and park as­sist are also use­ful.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

The BMW 228i has a twin power, 4- cylin­der, petrol en­gine fea­tur­ing a twin scroll tur­bocharger with Dou­ble Vanos and high pre­ci­sion in­jec­tion de­liv­er­ing 180 kW of power and 350 Nm of torque at only 1 250 rpm.

In a car the size of a shoe this makes for great fun be­hind the wheel. Zero to 100 km/ h comes up in 6,1 sec­onds, while top speed is 250 km/ h. The car is very re­spon­sive and has to be held back on roads where speed lim­its are likely to be a con­cern.

Like all BMWs the han­dling is su­perb. The steer­ing is sen­si­tive with ex­cel­lent feed­back. The driver’s needs are ex­pressed on road al­most as soon as they are com­mu­ni­cated.

The car we drove was a man­ual, ex­press­ing the con­sid­er­able power of the en­gine on road via a six- speed gear­box.

An auto box is also avail­able but I pre­ferred to be in con­trol and feel the thrust of the en­gine. In town, park­ing is made eas­ier by the park as­sist func­tion, as well as by the rear- view cam­era.

The car is quite short in any case and re­vers­ing into a small space is no prob­lem.

Costs and the com­pe­ti­tion

The 228i con­vert­ible comes in at about R530 000. Re­mem­ber that the op­tions list is long and ex­pen­sive.

The car comes with BMW’s five- year/ 100 000 km mo­tor plan, which is ex­tend­able and in­cludes road­side as­sis­tance. It is nonethe­less one of the best plans avail­able. If you are think­ing of spend­ing this much on a car, also look at the Mercedes C- Class Coupe, VW Scirocco and the Golf Cabri­o­let.

PHOTO: CARS­GUIDE

Two fin­gers wider and a hand- span longer than its pre­de­ces­sor, the lat­est drop- top 228i is as svelte as cars can get.

PHOTO: BMW

As with most four- seater road­sters, the rear seats are for those of slight build.

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