Test Drive: 2015 BMW 228i Convertible Review

BMW 228i

In the growing premium compact segment, BMW is putting some great choices out there for those people who want a fun vehicle with a nice interior and decent fuel economy.  Such is the case with the 2-Series BMW.

Just a brief history lesson, the 2-Series sedans and convertibles replace last year’s small Beemers, the 1-series.   The new 2’s are longer and wider, have more horsepower, yet more fuel-efficient, and that is exactly the combination Americans are seeking these days.

One thing BMW does a great job at is making all its cars to scale.  In other words, the same popular styling cues of the front end, rear end, and some of the side views look very similar to all the models, even going up to the 7-Series.  There is no mistaking the 228i convertible is a BMW, even at a far away distance.

The Ultimate Driving Machine slogan applies to the 228i.  BMW’s have a certain feel, unlike any other car and this small roadster does not disappoint.  It starts with the new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that is hooked to an 8-speed automatic tranny that you can shift from the steering wheel.  Unlike many cars, when you use the shift paddles, you can make very swift shifts that make this rear-wheel drive car feel even more responsive than it is.

Handling is tight, and thanks to BMW’s almost perfect 50/50 weight distribution and the car’s wide stance and low center of gravity, you always feel like you are in control of the car.  There is a little more lean in tight curves than I expect from a BMW, but it is not something that I can’t live with.  BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control lets you choose from six settings that change the car a lot as you go from Sport Plus, through Comfort and Comfort Plus, and to maximum fuel economy, go to Eco mode.

My test vehicle is silver and has a red leather interior.  I was pretty sure I would not like this combo, that is until I saw it.  Surprisingly, it works well and I have multiple compliments on the car while tooling around.  With the black cloth top up, the car is attractive, and with the top down it is just flat hot looking.  Speaking of the top, it works seamlessly and only takes 20 seconds to go up or down, and you can operate it at speeds up to 30 miles per hour.  The top fits perfectly, with no wind noise or water leaks of any kind.  Yes, there is a back seat, but consider this a two-seater.

In the debate over hard-top versus soft-top convertibles, I think the ragtop was perfect for this car.  It cuts a lot of weight out of the car for better fuel economy, but more important I was very surprised by the amount of trunk space, even with the top down.  One lever will pop the back seat down for additional room.

The 228i has good headroom, a great instrument cluster, and nice touches of chrome surrounding many of the dash pieces.  Like all BMWs, the steering wheel is terrific and has cruise control and radio controls built in.  The gearshift takes a little getting used to…you push a button for park, much like some of the Benz models.  You push forward to the front of the car for reverse, toward the rear for forward.  It is OK once you get used to it.

You get what you’d expect as standard equipment on any BMW, even the “entry level” model 228.  You get leather interior, climate controlled air conditioning, power seat, a nice stereo, and color monitor that you operate from the modified, and much simpler BMW i-drive system.

This is where BMW and I always get crossways:  options.  You get that nice, low, base price that makes it seem affordable, then all the options and packages are calculated and the price shoots through the roof.  For instance, base price on this 228i convertible is $37,900 and then before you know it, the MSRP is $53,825.  That is $16,000 in options, many of them things I would expect over in the standard equipment column.

This car has the $2050 Sport Line package, which is primarily 18” wheels and sport seats. $700 gets you the Cold Weather package, which is heated seats and steering wheel. Driver Assistance package is $950 and gives you rearview camera and parking sensors, and Lighting Package gives you $900 worth of Xenon headlights, and I am just getting warmed up.

The Premium package is $3400 and gives you a built-in garage door opener, keyless entry, power seats, ambient lighting, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and satellite radio. Technology package is $2150 and is basically navigation system. One really cool thing I want to point out is the nav system can be updated VIA satellite four times per year for free.

The Track Handling package is sort of fun, and in my opinion should be optional, not standard. It runs $1600 and upgrades the brakes, give you adaptive suspension, and variable steering.  If you like that true BMW feel, this is a good choice. There are a few other miscellaneous items like the color of the car and color of the top total $1050, Harmon/Kardon stereo is $875, and enhanced Bluetooth system is $500. With the freight charge, there you have $16,000 added to the base price.

My issues with the pricing structure should not take away from the fact that this 228i convertible is a well-engineered and fun car to drive.  Initial build quality is fantastic; I can’t find a single flaw. Fuel economy is good, the car is incredibly quiet inside, especially for a convertible.  This car is available too, as a 235i and it comes with a 320-horse six cylinder, but of course that is $10,000 more.

What I liked most: Exterior appearance, quietness, and great interior.

What I would change: The price.

MSRP: Base price $37,900.  As equipped $53,825. 

Fuel Economy: 23 City/34 highway/27 combined.

Odometer reading when tested: 2900 miles. 

Weight: 3625 Pounds.

Length-Width-Height174.7” long/69.8” wide/55.8” High.

Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.7 gallons.

2015 BMW 228i in a few words: A well built, fun to drive machine.

Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, with 4 year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance, and free maintenance for 4 years/50,000 miles.

Car Pro Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Manufacturer’s website: BMW

Photo Credit: BMW
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