- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2010

For drivers whose definition of Joy includes wind in the face and sunshine above, the BMW 1 Series Convertible continues the tradition established by the iconic BMW 2002 sport sedan. The essence of such driving purity - a responsive inline-6 engine perfectly positioned within a rear-drive chassis to provide balanced, sporty dynamics - is at the heart of this compact four-seat convertible.

For the 2011 model year, two versions are available: the 128i (starting at $35,075 including $875 destination fee) and the 135i (starting at $41,225 including $875 destination fee).

The 2011 BMW 128i Convertible is powered by BMW’s 3.0-liter, 230 horsepower inline-6 engine generating 200 lb-ft of torque. Like its fixed-roof stablemate, the 128i Convertible features Valvetronic valvetrain management and aluminum/ magnesium cylinder block construction - core elements of BMW’s EfficientDynamics philosophy.

The big news for the 1 Series Convertible is that the 2011 BMW 135i features BMW’s newest, 3.0-liter inline-6 engine. Equipped with a single, twin-scroll turbocharger and BMW’s revolutionary Valvetronic throttle-less intake technology, the engine produces the same 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque as its predecessor, but now reaches peak torque as low as 1,200 rpm, which is 200 rpm earlier than the 2010 model. With its High Precision direct gasoline injectors, optimum performance and fuel efficiency are achieved with even faster engine response across the entire engine speed range. For the 135i Convertible, acceleration from 0-60 mph is accomplished with the standard 6-speed manual transmission in 5.4 seconds.

Also for the 2011 model year, the 135i can be equipped with BMW’s 7-speed Double Clutch Transmission (DCT), as featured on the BMW Z4 Roadster. The DCT option replaces the Steptronic automatic transmission option on 135i models. Equipped with DCT, the 135i Convertible will accomplish the 0-60 mph sprint in a scant 5.3 seconds. The 6-speed Steptronic automatic remains optional on the 128i. So equipped, the 128i Convertible runs 0-60 mph in 7.0 seconds, or 6.4 seconds with the standard 6-speed manual transmission.

Distinctive BMW Convertible appearance

In a mere 22 seconds-even on the move at speeds up to 25 miles per hour-occupants of the 1 Series Convertible can go from encapsulated comfort to top-down exhilaration. If conditions dictate, the electro-hydraulically-operated softtop can be raised within the same 22 seconds, producing a distinctive silhouette enhanced by long frameless doors. The characteristic features of the BMW kidney-shaped grill, front skirt, door sills and rear skirt are identical to those of the 1 Series Coupe.

The standard softtop is available in either black or taupe cloth, but it is the optional Moonlight Black version which is unique to the 1 Series Convertible. Interwoven with fine shiny metallic fibers, this distinctive top produces a shimmery metallic silver appearance in sunlight. The visual effect enhances the convertible’s exciting range of nine colors which includes an exclusive hue: Cashmere Silver Metallic.

A distinctive feature of the 1 Series Convertible is the flared shoulder line which runs parallel to the road. This shoulder line flows from the hood past the A pillar to the trunk lid, forming a surface which encompasses the entire interior, giving the impression of a boat deck.

The view from the rear is influenced by the position of the softtop: with the top lowered, completely concealed in the tail, the look is flat and elegant; the appearance with the top up is broad shouldered. The trunk lid has an integrated spoiler chiseled into the rear end of the car to accentuate the short rear section. On the 135i, an additional lip spoiler provides greater downforce on the rear end at high speeds.

The individual sections within the L-shaped rear taillights give the vehicle a lower, sportier look. Horizontal lights integrated in the rear light clusters offer a homogeneous lighting effect with the help of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). This light design, as found on other BMW models, makes the BMW 1 Series Convertible stand out at night. Also, the Adaptive Brake Lights operating in two stages in relation to brake application force are yet another feature typical of BMW, with the additional benefit of extra safety on the road.

The standard (on the 135i) Adaptive Xenon Headlights (optional on the 128i), complete with integrated cornering lights, make driving in the dark safer than ever. The daytime running light function, in typical BMW style, uses the four corona rings around each headlight to enhance the visibility of the car under normal and “murky” light conditions.

Convertible interior features technology enhanced comfort, convenience

Two unique BMW 1 Series Convertible features provide increased driver and passenger comfort, thus improving the overall experience regardless of the top’s position. The optional Boston leather incorporates BMW’s Sun Reflective Technology where pigments worked into the upholstery mitigate the effect of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Excessive heating of the seats and armrest is diminished, especially for darker interior colors. The overall effect can produce surface temperatures some 20 degrees Fahrenheit below a comparable “normal” leather interior.

The standard upholstery is sporty and comfortable Leatherette, which is also the covering on the optional Sport Package’s sport seats with enhanced side support (Boston leather can be selected for this package).

The climate-control system in the 1 Series Convertible has an additional convertible mode (compared to the system in the BMW 1 Series Coupe) designed for open-roof conditions. The three standard modes; gentle, medium and intensive, react primarily to interior sensors, while the convertible mode reacts less to interior temperature and more to the exterior temperature and sunlight factors to establish the intensity of the ventilation.

Turbulence in the roof-down cabin can be reduced by an available wind deflector which can be affixed to the sides of the vehicle with a few adjustments. The wind deflector allows for conversation at normal sound levels and the ability to enjoy the wide variety of audio and communication offerings which include SIRIUS satellite radio, HD radio, the optional Premium Sound system, and Bluetooth. For simple and straightforward connection of an MP3 player, an auxiliary input jack is standard and a USB port for direct control of an Apple iPod or iPhone media player is available as an option.

Made available in 2009 was a Heated Steering Wheel, included in the optional Cold Weather Package for the 128i Convertible, and available as a stand-alone option on the 135i Convertible (Cold Weather Package required).

The control console for the entertainment and climate-control functions is integrated smoothly and harmoniously into the dashboard through its soft radii and flowing surfaces. With the optional navigation system, the iDrive controller is integrated in the center console, following BMW’s characteristic philosophy of full driver control at all times. Galvanized pearl gloss surfaces adorn the interior door handles, the glove compartment handle, the radio’s rotary knobs, the knobs of the automatic climate control system, the iDrive controller, and the ornamental trim strips featured on the sport steering wheel.

Spacious trunk supplemented by folding seat backs and storage bag

An active couple can carry their gear, regardless of the season, thanks to the generous trunk space offered by the 1 Series Convertible. Two golf bags will fit in the trunk of the 1 Series Convertible - even with the top down! Lowering the soft top produces a storage space that is 8 cubic-feet, which does not include the optional large storage bag that extends into the passenger compartment and can accommodate two snow boards or a golf bag without soiling the upholstery. A zippered opening allows access into the storage bag from within the passenger compartment.

High-tech suspension with newly-developed differential

In typical BMW configuration, the BMW 1 Series Convertible transmits power to the rear wheels exclusively. This concept - engine at the front, drive wheels at the rear - guarantees optimum traction, near-perfect weight distribution front-to-rear, excellent directional stability, and predictable handling.

The 1 Series Convertible has a sophisticated suspension system with an aluminum double-pivot front suspension and a five-link fully independent rear suspension in lightweight steel. BMW’s Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) also includes a Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) function that provides electronic intervention to prevent loss of vehicle control, but at a higher threshold before activation. This allows the driver to experience more spirited driving on dry roads and offers more flexibility when driving in more challenging conditions such as in snow. If the driver desires, both DSC and DTC can be disabled entirely. Optional Active Steering - a variable ratio steering system exclusive to BMW - is available on the 135i Convertible. In addition to its duties as a safety system, the DSC system on the 135i Convertible is programmed specifically to enhance performance-oriented driving.

The rear differential on the 1 Series comes from a new generation of final drives optimized for running smoothness and fuel efficiency. Featuring double-helical ball bearings for the first time, the differential runs at an even lower operating temperature reached more quickly than before thanks to the reduction of fluid required in the differential. Electronic rear brake management is always used to simulate a differential lock for stronger acceleration in turns and low-traction conditions.

The front suspension on the BMW 1 Series is also built to a unique standard in its competitive group. The double-pivot spring and strut front suspension with its anti-roll bar, is made largely of aluminum and offers an optimum combination of stiffness and low weight. The stable track control arms and thrust rods, as well as near-perfect wheel positioning, make an important contribution to the car’s driving dynamics.

M-inspired design for the M Sport Package

Model year 2009 saw the introduction of a new M Sport Package, available on both models of the 1 Series Convertible. Features of the M Sport Package include an Aero kit for reduced lift at speed, an increased top speed limiter, better brake cooling, and enhanced aesthetics while the Sports Suspension offers higher traction and reduced body roll with unique wheels and performance tires. On the 135i Convertible, the Sports Suspension also includes a high-performance brake system incorporating 6-piston fixed calipers on the front and 2-piston calipers at the rear. Additionally, the M Sport Package for both models includes BMW Individual high-gloss Shadowline exterior trim, sport seats, and M branded trim components including driver footrest, gearshift knob (for manual transmission), and door sills. Finally, LeMans Blue Metallic exterior paint is available exclusively when the M Sport Package is ordered.

Safety equipment maximized for convertible design

The four standard airbags in the 2011 BMW 1 Series Convertible are designed for the optimum protection of the car’s occupants. The advanced frontal airbags are activated in stages relative to impact severity while the side airbags integrated into the sides of the front seat backrests reduce the risk of injury at chest, hip and head levels in side impact situations. The BMW 1 Series Convertible also comes with crash-optimized seats with active headrests designed to reduce the risk of neck injury in an impact from the rear.

All seats within the 1 Series Convertible are fitted with three-point inertia-reel seat belts and headrests, with the front seat belts fastened on to the frames of the driver’s and front passenger’s seats, keeping the belt in an optimum position around the occupant’s hips regardless of seat height or fore-aft placement.

Also, the driver’s pedals move back automatically with a predetermined amount of deformation in the event of a frontal collision so that the risk of driver foot injury is reduced. And last but not least, the rear seats come standard with LATCH attachments for child seats.

The 2011 BMW 1 Series Convertible is equipped with a roll-over sensor, which continually monitors the vertical and horizontal movements of the vehicle. As soon as the sensors register the danger of the vehicle rolling over, two roll bars are extended in fractions of a second from their storage areas behind the rear headrests. Simultaneously, the front-seat-belt tensioners are activated. Further roll-over protection is offered by the optimized stability of the A pillar and windshield frame.

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