2015 BMW M235i convertible [blue] high

BMW convertible models – a buyer's guide

What’s the difference between BMW’s convertible models and which one might be right for you? Here’s our guide to the BMW convertible model range.

Graham King Cazoo

By Graham King

Updated: 23 January 2023

BMW gives you a wider choice of convertible models than almost any other car brand, ranging from sporty two-seaters to practical four-seaters, with fuel-efficient diesel models, high-performance options and even a plug-in hybrid.

Here’s our guide to the range of used BMW convertible models you can buy.

How many BMW convertible models are there?

As of 2021, BMW makes three convertible models – the 4 Series, the 8 Series and the Z4. In this article we’re also looking at the older 2 Series Convertible, which was built until 2021, the 6 Series, built until 2018, and the i8 Roadster, built until 2020.

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Which BMW convertible models have 4 seats?

If you want a drop-top that allows you and three friends to make the most of the sun then think about the BMW 2 Series, 4 Series, 6 Series or 8 Series because each has four seats.

With BMW, the bigger the number in the name, the bigger the car. The 2 Series is the smallest and even it has space for two adults in the back (although they might be a bit happier on long weekend journeys in one of the bigger cars). The 6 Series and 8 Series are the largest convertibles; the 8 Series replaced the 6 Series in 2018.

View of the BMW 6 Series Convertible interior

Which BMW convertible models have 2 seats?

The Z4 and i8 Roadster both have two seats and both are sports cars but the similarities largely end there. The Z4 has its engine at the front under a long bonnet and the seats as far towards the back as possible.

The i8, by contrast, has attention-grabbing styling and keeps its engine behind the seats. It’s not especially practical as a family car, but it’s great fun to drive and makes every journey feel like an event. It’s also one of the most environmentally friendly sports cars you can buy because it’s a plug-in hybrid with a zero emissions range of more than 30 miles.

View of the BMW i8 Roadster interior

Are BMW convertible models practical?

The 2 Series, 4 Series, 6 Series and 8 Series are more practical than many similar convertible models because they have back seats that can accommodate adults – in some four-seat convertibles the back seats aren’t really comfortable for adults, but that’s not the case with BMWs.

You also get a decent amount of space in the boot of every BMW convertible. You might not be able to squeeze flat-pack furniture in them, but big shopping trips and week-long holidays shouldn’t be a problem. Bear in mind though that there’s less room in the boot when the roof is folded down – significantly so in hard-top cars.

View of the BMW 4 Series Convertible boot

What’s the most luxurious BMW convertible model?

As you’d expect of premium-brand cars, the interior of every BMW convertible model feels high-quality, even if you opt for an entry-level SE model. Indeed, if you swapped your BMW saloon for one of the convertibles, you wouldn’t notice any difference in quality or features. Of course, the bigger the car the more luxurious it is and the top-of-the-range 8 Series is the most luxurious BMW convertible you can buy. It’s supremely comfortable and packed with every high-tech feature BMW offers.

BMW 8 Series Convertible

What’s the fastest BMW convertible model?

No BMW convertible model ould be called slow and you don’t have to look far up the range to find models with very powerful engines that make overtakes effortless. The fastest are the ‘M’ models, which are made by a team of special performance engineers. The M4, M6 and M8 (based on the 4 Series, 6 Series and 8 Series) can go almost as fast as BMW's racing cars. If speed is your thing, then the M8 is massively quick, thanks to lots of power from its V8 engine.

BMW M8 Convertible

Why did BMW stop making hard-top convertible models?

BMW 4 Series models sold from 2014 to 2020 and Z4 models sold from 2009 to 2017 have ‘hard-top’ roofs made from metal and plastic instead of the soft, fabric top used in most convertibles.

Hard-top convertibles were popular in the early 2000s because – with the roof up – they give you about the same level of quiet, warmth and security as you’d find in a saloon. That’s great, because thanks to the British weather most convertibles are driven roof-up most of the time. However, hard-top roofs are very heavy, which reduces fuel economy, and very bulky when folded away, which reduces boot space.

The design of fabric roofs has improved to the point that a hard top no longer has any real comfort advantage, so BMW switched to soft tops for the latest 4 Series and Z4.

Hardtop BMW 4 Series Convertible

BMW convertible models in summary

BMW 2 Series Convertible

The 2 Series is the smallest BMW convertible model but it remains a very comfortable, practical car. It’s surprisingly cost-effective to run, especially if you have a diesel model which can give you as much as 60mpg. At the other end of the scale there are the high-performance, very fast M235i and M240i models.

BMW 4 Series Convertible

The BMW 4 Series Convertible combines the nimble, responsive handling of the smaller 2 Series with almost as much space and luxury as the bigger 6 and 8 Series. It’s available with a similarly broad range of engines as the 2 Series, from efficient diesels to seriously potent petrol engines, including the extremely fast M4.

Cars sold from 2014 to 2020 have a hard-top roof; the version sold since 2021 has a cloth roof.

BMW 6 Series Convertible

The BMW 6 Series was sold until 2018 as BMW’s top-of-the-range convertible model. Its comfort and its range of tech matches that of any luxury saloon and there’s plenty of room for four adults.

It’s great to drive and is particularly good on long journeys – diesel models can take you more than 700 miles on a single tank of fuel. Or if speed is your thing, you might prefer the power of the mighty M6.

BMW 8 Series Convertible

The BMW 8 Series replaced the 6 Series when it was launched in 2019. The two cars are similar in that they are big, luxurious four-seaters, but the 8 Series features the latest tech and engineering, which makes it feel even better to drive.

You can choose from diesel or petrol engines, including the large and very powerful petrol engine in the super-fast M8.

BMW Z4 Roadster

The BMW Z4 is a two-seat sports car that feels quick and nimble when you drive it. Yet it’s just as quiet and comfortable as any of BMW’s saloon cars when you just want to get from A to B.

There’s no diesel option, but the 2-litre petrol engine is surprisingly fuel-efficient and 3-litre models are rapid to say the least. Models sold from 2009 to 2017 have a hard-top roof while the version sold since 2018 has a soft top.

BMW i8 Roadster

The futuristic BMW i8 looks like no other car on the road. But there’s more to it than just style – it’s also the most efficient BMW convertible you can find because it’s a plug-in hybrid.

It can give you up to 134mpg and has a zero-emission range of up to 33 miles, which can easily cover the bulk of everyday journeys. It’s also very fast and feels exciting to drive, but it’s the least practical car on our list. It only has two seats and the engine is behind them, so there’s not much space in the boot for your luggage.

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