The Auto Trader expert verdict:
A BMW M3 with a folding hardtop? All the better for enjoying the noise, but the M3 Convertible loses some of its core driving appeal without its roof.
Reasons to buy:
- Glorious V8 engine soundtrack
- Fearsome pace at all times
- Cleverly designed folding hardtop
Folding hardtops are all the rage, and even the BMW M3 Convertible has adopted a tin-top for its latest conversion. Whether it’s a success depends on your viewpoint, as, with the roof up, the M3 Convertible looks much like its Coupe relative. That could be a problem if owners want people to know they have paid more for their M3. Keen M car spotters will notice the lack of the Coupe’s carbon-fibre roof panel, but for most the BMW M3 Convertible looks much like the taut, muscular coupe version until you press that roof button.
Anyone who’s driven a BMW will feel familiar with the M3 Convertible’s interior. BMW’s neat dark plastics mix with tactile switches and the usual orange backlighting. Changes specific to the M3 include more sporting seats, some M badging and an M backlit gear knob. It all feels solidly built and works well too. BMW’s iDrive system controls have improved with time and familiarity.
Losing little in practicality over the M3 Coupe (so long as the roof is up) the M3 Convertible can carry four adults in reasonable comfort. Legroom isn’t generous in the back, but headroom is surprisingly accommodating. The boot is a decent size, with 350 litres of luggage space. That boot space is easily accessed, but open the folding roof and the capacity reduces and access is severely limited. Even so, few cars can carry four people so rapidly, open to the elements and with some luggage on board.
Ride and handling</strong>
Inevitably, the removal of the fixed roof affects the car’s structural stiffness. It’s marginal here though, the M3 Convertible still demonstrating a remarkable ability to exploit its ability to accelerate. The suspension is firm, but it’s only uncomfortable on the poorest road surfaces. Grip levels are high and the M3’s balance is largely neutral unless you use its ample power to provoke oversteer. Do so and the M3’s controllability is remarkable, even if the nicely-weighted steering isn’t the last word in fine feedback.
Four-litres of V8 nestle under the M3 Convertible’s bonnet and it’s a serious engine. Although thriving on high revs, it delivers eye-widening pace at any speed. Although it produces its peak power of 420bhp at 8,300rpm, maximum torque arrives at 3,900rpm, explaining that flexibility. Use all its power and it’ll reach 62mph in just 5.3 seconds; the DCT seven-speed auto manages it in 5.1 seconds. It’s not only very rapid, but it sounds fantastic too. The M3 Convertible is the best way to sample the bark from the four exhausts and wonderfully mechanical soundtrack from the V8 engine.
The sizable initial outlay for the M3 Convertible will be followed by sizable running costs. Chief among these is the M3’s considerable appetite for fuel – expensive high octane petrol at that. Officially its average fuel consumption figure is 22.2mpg, but it’s all but impossible to achieve that in everyday driving. Push it hard and you’ll easily knock 10mpg off that figure. Insurance is in the very highest groupings, the tyres won’t last too long with all that power and the 18-inch alloys are very easy to scrape on kerbs. Surprisingly, resale values aren’t too great either.