BMW 125i Convertible (2008) Review

By: Chris Fincham

Presented by

2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible
2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible
2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible
2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible
2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible
2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible
2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible
2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible 2008 BMW 125i Convertible

BMW 125i Convertible: In 2008, BMW returned to its roots with an "entry-level" soft-top.

BMW 125i Convertible (2008) Review
2008 BMW 125i Convertible

 

2008 BMW 125i Convertible

[Jun 2008] At a time when many convertible car-makers are abandoning cloth roofs in favour of retractable hardtops, BMW is amongst those who continue to fly the flag for the traditional 'rag-top' albeit with a big dose of 21st century technology.

The 1 Series convertible joins its big 6 Series sibling in offering an electro-hydraulic-operated soft-top. Although this is partly to keep costs down on its most affordable four-seater convertible, BMW says soft-tops are still appealing to buyers as they help distinguish their cars from hardtop versions; an important consideration for those who've forked out the extra cash for look-at-me, wind-in-the-hair motoring.

Importantly the 1 Series' soft-top also takes up minimal room when stowed. Press the button in the dash and the roof automatically folds neatly into the compact boot in just 22secs, while still allowing space for a few small bags or the weekly shopping.

The cloth top is not the only 'traditional' feature on BMW's latest convertible. Its styling echoes the classic 'boat deck' lines, flush boot lid and long bonnet of BMW's last entry-level 'compact' four-seater convertible, the 2002 Cabriolet of the 1970s. Interestingly, while small by today's standards the new 1 Series has similar dimensions to the E30 3 Series convertible of the 1980s.

The 1 Series convertible range kicks off at $52,900 for the 120i with its 115kW/200Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. The 125i tested here with the 160kW/270Nm 3.0-litre in-line 'six' starts at $63,400. While those desiring 'M'-like performance can opt for the 135i with its red-hot 225kW/400Nm twin-turbo six-cylinder ($78,400).

While not as hard core as the twin-turbo version, the 125i we drove over some entertaining roads through South Australian wine country was still a spirited, free-revving performer.

It's certainly no slouch off the mark, with 0-100km/h sprinting in under 7.0secs. But with an additional 115kg to haul in convertible form it did seem to take some of the edge off performance particularly when overtaking or pushing hard up a hill.

Drop the roof though and you'll enjoy the aural delights of a lovely exhaust growl and induction note, as well as satisfying race-car-like 'blips' during manual down-changes.

The six-speed manual with its precise, tactile shifts is the enthusiasts' pick of the transmissions, although the silky smooth auto with its steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters is not far behind.

It's easy to be fooled by this car's boulevard cruiser good looks. Like its coupe and hatchback siblings, the 1 Series convertible benefits from BMW trademarks of rear-wheel drive, stiff chassis and excellent weight distribution which means the 125i feels more than comfortable being hurled through corners.

Turn in is sharp, it feels light and nimble and the grippy low-profile tyres hug the road securely at least in the dry. Disc brakes with six-piston callipers at the front and two-piston at the rear, pull the car up abruptly when required.

While still on the firm side, the softer suspension tune helped to soak up road irregularities without the harsh feel of some Beemers we've driven recently. There were no rattles or scuttleshake detected, although constant niggles from the road surface were transmitted through the steering wheel.

With its compact 2+2 layout front occupants get the best deal, with comfy leather-lined sports seats that are fully adjustable. As well as lacking for legroom, rear seat passengers might also feel a bit claustrophobic back there with the roof up.

The cloth roof can be operated at speeds up to 40km/h and when up there's little noise intrusion into the cabin. BMW has paid close attention to 'acoustic insulation' and the resulting serenity compares favourably with hard-top convertibles.

Wind-in-the-hair levels are easily controlled too; wind up the windows, manually fit the wind deflector over the rear seats, and you'll feel fully insulated from outside turbulence. Then pump up the heater, turn on the seat heaters and enjoy roof down motoring all year-round; rain permitting, of course!

The 125i is reasonably well-equipped for the money, with 'Sunreflective' leather trim, rear parking sensors, climate-control air-con, CD player with MP3 compatibility, on-board computer, multi-function sports steering wheel, six airbags, and a raft of electronic active safety systems amongst the standard equipment.

Some options, though, are a bit steep and should have been included, like metallic paint ($1600), sat nav (from $2700), and electric seat adjustment ($2750).

Quibbles aside, BMW Down Under should have no problems off-loading its allocated 800 or so 1 Series convertibles this year. Oozing with style and luxury, a sporty nature, solid build quality and some nifty features, BMW's smallest and cheapest rag-top should entice plenty of sun lovers.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

2008 BMW 125i Convertible

BODY: 2+2 convertible

WEIGHT: 1510kg

ENGINE: 3.0-litre six-cylinder

POWER/TORQUE:  160kW @ 6100rpm/270Nm @ 2500rpm

DRIVETRAIN: front eng, RWD

TRANSMISSION: six-speed man/auto

PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h - 6.9secs. Top speed - 237km/h (man)

PRICE: $63,400

 

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition