BMW 2 Series Convertible 218i SE

March 2015

picture of car from the front

BMW's 2 Series Convertible is a handsome looking car


Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 8Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 6Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


  • Appealing looks
  • Solid driving performance
  • Rear seats more useable than they look
  • Roof easy to use and doesn't impact on practicality


  • Limited visibility rearwards with roof up
  • Big wheel and tyre combinations can impact on cabin refinement
  • Driving experience could be more engaging
  • Long and tempting list of options - some of which should be standard at this price point

Following on from its coupe stablemate, this 2 Series Convertible takes over from the older 1 Series range, offering the fun and sensible compact cars in the German firm's line-up. The format remains the same though, with a compact cabin, a power operated fabric roof and a modest selection of powerful yet efficient engines.

While it would be easy to dismiss this 2 Series Convertible as a reworked version of the old 1 Series drop-top, the differences are more than just a name change as styling, powertrain and usability updates have been designed to lift the car's premium appeal.

That said, as before the main focus is on the attraction of open-top motoring. And eschewing a complex metal folding hardtop in favour of a lighter and mechanically less complex fabric roof ensures that the car's profile isn't visually compromised.

And being a BMW it's important the 2 Series drives well. In default rear-wheel drive guise the car offers a good balance of agility and refinement, allowing ken drivers to have some fun assuming you pick the right engine and gearbox combination.

If being seen is more important than thrashing around the countryside, the 2 Series Convertible will happily oblige. It might like the coupe's more focused approach on the road, but there's no denying that it looks the part, roof down, on a sunny day.

Our verdict on the BMW 2 Series Convertible 218i SE

Keen drivers will, predictably, always go for the coupe variant but it's good to know that the drop-top version remains a capable machine. The emphasis might be more towards style and functionality, but fun can still be had if you opt for a high power engine. Roof-down refinement levels are high, making this 2 Series a genuine all-year round proposition.

Costs rating 8

BMW has made impressive inroads into reducing fuel consumption and emissions without sacrificing drivability. The engines offered with the 2 Series Convertible should appeal to the business user as well as the private buyer. These potential savings are offset by the need to select a few options, as the default specification could be a little more generous at this price point.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 6

Convertibles are rarely bought for their practical attributes, but the 2 Series strikes a good balance if you're planning on using it as a daily driver. Boot space is acceptable and rear cabin room is fine for short journeys, although the seats are better suited for children. There's no cause for complaint up front, be it for the ample space or oddment storage options.

picture of car from the rear

Top down, the 2 Series Convertible delivers a refined driving experience

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

It's familiar BMW fare in the 2 Series Convertible, with a clear and logically laid out facia and a bright, colour screen. The various controls prove intuitive, while the option of a head up display showing speed and navigation instructions is a welcome bonus.

Comfort Rating 8

Resist the urge to opt for any sport-related trim levels or large wheels and you should find the 2 Series Convertible a comfortable and refined driving and ownership proposition. The upmarket cabin is a great place to spend time in, and the powered roof is easy to operate. For maximum comfort it's advise to select the wind deflector option as it really does make a difference.

Car security
Security Rating 7

As you would expect, the 2 Series Convertible comes with remote central locking plus the convenience of a stop/start button to save you fumbling for the key. The car's boot offers secure storage for valuables, although the roof itself will always be viewed as more vulnerable than a conventional tin-top alternative.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

It's good to see that BMW has all the bases covered with the 2 Series Convertible. There's no shortage of passive and active safety kit such as stability control and plenty of airbags. And being a convertible you also benefit from BMW's rollover protection system.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 6

Despite the BMW badges the 2 Series Convertible is unlikely to be the choice of many keen drivers. In its defense, the coupe will always prove the more popular while the drop-top 2 Series delivers a rounded performance. It's still a good steer though, do long as you opt for a sensible wheel and tyre combination and pair them with a reasonably powerful engine - say, a mid range diesel or high power petrol unit.

picture of car interior

High quality cabin will be familiar to existing BMW owners

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 1

There's little chance the 2 Series Convertible would make a good choice as the main family car due to the many compromises you'd have to make. It makes a little more sense as a second car, although boot and rear cabin space is modest.

First car appeal
First car Rating 5

In principle the car would be a sensible choice for a novice as it's neither an outright performance model or especially big. However, it's not an inexpensive choice and rear visibility with the roof up isn't special - not ideal for nervous first timers.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 8

There are no complaints here as build quality is up to BMW's usual high standards and the cabin layout should be familiar to BMW fans. The decision to rename the car - it's really a 1 Series convertible - further elevates the car's status in the market.

Accessibility Rating

Being a convertible, its two big doors mean there are no problems accessing the front seats, although tight parking spaces can prove the opposite. Accessing the rear seats is made much easier with the roof down, while the boot is the usual saloon-like affair.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

Mirroring many other cars in the BMW stable, the 2 Series Convertible boasts a good quality infotainment unit comprising audio, Bluetooth and MP3 player connectivity. The default navigation system is a welcome inclusion, and all of this is accessed by BMW's now familiar and more intuitive rotary controller.

picture of car in detail

Rear space is modest but usable in a pinch

Colours and trim

Bold colours do wonders for the 2 Series Convertible, as they do much to highlight its clean lines, while the contrasting hood colour adds a welcome dash of style. It's a familiar environment inside the car, with lots of dark materials punctuated by bright trim accents.


Roof up and the 2 Series Convertible boasts good forward visibility but the view rearwards is hampered slightly. That's obviously not the case with the roof down, although the removable wind deflector means the view isn't a clear one. Still, the steering offers plenty of assistance at low speeds.

Spare wheel

Fitted with a tyre mobility system.


Range information

Petrol engine options - 220i (184bhp); 228i (245bhp); M235i (326bhp). Diesel engine options - 220d (190bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox or eight-speed automatic transmission. Trim levels: Sport, M (M235i).


Alternative cars

Nissan 370Z Roadster Raw two-seater coupe is more fun, but less practical

Porsche Boxster  Boxster offers premium badge and better performance but for more money

Volkswagen Golf Convertible Sensible alternative is easy to live with but not sporty

Audi TT Roadster Bold looks make this car an attractive alternative

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March 2015