Thursday 23 October 2014

Want to feel really liberated? Just whip your top off, writes an excited Ian Mallon

Published 14/08/2014 | 12:21

I'm sitting in a very beautiful car, but I’m feeling about as comfortable as a monk in Magaluf during happy hour.

Not everyone approves of my choice of car on this baking hot day, and it still seems to me that we Irish are still a little shy with the convertible.

It’s not just cars whose roofs come down — anything we disapprove of holds a deep-rooted suspicion within the Irish psyche.

In this otherwise wonderful land, it seems that conforming to the norms is far more sensible than being the odd one out.

Take, for example, the cafe owner in Kerry last week who banned American tourists who were too loud for the owner’s sense of acceptable decibel levels.

Rather than take in countless US dollars, the sensitive Kerryman in Waterville decided to forgo profit in the name of a quiet life — and a grotesque generalisation of an entire nation.

DEVILISH

Despite leading the way in the worlds of tech and tax havens, we are still an intolerant sort of people, a throwback to the dire days of poverty and famine, perhaps.

We Irish hate anything that dares to be confident or out of the ordinary, anything from loud shirts or, in this very case, convertible cars.

The convertible is like a Victorian child, it should not be seen, let alone heard.

It’s the tool of the devil, or rather the devilish infidels who dare to drive around in something which deigns to be different.

The soft or hard top should not be allowed out, and should be kept only for the Sunset Strip or Monte Carlo — certainly not downtown Ballybejaysus.

After several days of driving around in the latest BMW in last week’s delicious hot spell, the attitudes of Irish folk are as entrenched as ever when it comes to the convertible.

People look at you as if you’ve just sped through a playground or shot a kitten.

Not that I cared a jot, by the way — I’ll happily take the ire from folk for driving around in the very beautiful.

This is in-your-face driving, and the BMW 4 experience far exceeded such small thoughts as I sped around in what I can only describe as the ultimate dream.

The 4 has taken over from the old 3 Series and is even more beautiful than the previous.

This is sleekness made flesh, and if you have the audacity and the spirit to drive around with the roof down, it really is a thing of beauty.

Front to back it oozes class and style and is lower, wider and longer than its predecessor.

There are cool “air breathers” built into the lower wings to reduce drag and mainly look very cool, while there are stylish aero curtains and a more forward slanting kidney grille up front.

The look and style of the latest BMW convertible are not the full story, however. This is a car that is as much about performance.

This 4 Series convertible comes in two petrol and one diesel. Mine was a juices-flowing 428i M Sport, which was so powerful that it made me laugh loudly every time I kicked her into action.

The 428i (which is a 2.0 litre despite the figures) hops out an invigorating 245 horses, and if that weren’t enough, it also comes in a 435i and a more sober 420d model.

This is a car that is not just about the pretty, it is also a car with bags of grunt which no doubt pees off the begrudgers even more. The BMW 4 Series Convertible starts at €55,090.

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