2008 BMW 128i Convertible Review
My biggest kvetch about the BMW 1-Series: price. When you compare the 1-Series to the more practical 3-Series, the cheaper 1 might as well have a bone through its nose and wear a Fine Young Cannibals T-shirt. Still, no one ever lost any money selling BMWs to well-heeled consumers whose desire for status trumps… everything. Given that the majority of the brand’s fan base are insensitive to matters of relative worth– other than new hotness– the drop-top 128i has less of a hill to climb than the rest of the “I’m-not-a-3-Series, not yet an icon” 1ers. So, does it?
The 128i convertible is drop-dead sexy– provided a well dressed fat person flicks your Bic. Although the 1 drips with BMW jewelry and figure-hiding flame surfacing, the car looks as if Bangle’s Boyz loaded a 3-Series picture onto their computer, and then stretched the image vertically. The 128i’s high belt line Bobbleheads its blingmeisters. Still, the design IS unforgettable, in both the positive and negative sense, depending on whose name is on registration.
BMW’s fashioned about three quarters of the 128i convertible’s cabin from high-quality Germanic materials. The other quarter's low-quality shiny polymers come straight from the days when chocolate cereal was not part of a complete breakfast. The driver-oriented dash provides more acceptable nostalgia, while the rubbery switchgear conforms to today’s idea of haute carture. The 128i’s back seat barely possess enough space to accommodate the sorostitutes that will no doubt ride in the back of Daddy’s little girl’s BMW.
The front seats put the ß in scheiße. To say they lack side bolstering is like saying that BMW makes a decent inline six. The sports package's more glove-like chairs rectify the ergonomic deficit, but it’s a bit like cosmetic dentistry. No matter how good the fix, when you see the bill ($1200), you still wish you had better genetics.
In fact, the 128i Convertible mit sport is your dentist’s best friend. I’m not saying the 128i is hard-riding, but the 128i is hard riding. You might even say there isn’t a modern car sold with a more punishing suspension. While BMW might get away with this sadism with the sport-oriented 135i, why punish buyers of the entry-level 128i, sweetpea's pretty little cabrio (redacting pretty)?
The 128i Convertible’s 3.0-liter six-cylinder powerplant is the main, perhaps only event. It sounds like bobbyellabilliefrank, digitally remastered in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. There’s a reason BMW uses this engine in the 1-Series, 3-Series, 5-Series, X3, X5, Z4 and the company’s lawn mowers (for all we know). It’s the little engine that could: a smooth, rev-happy jewel that never fails to take food and toys to the good little goys on the other side of the mountain. That said, I also love Snickers bars. Just not in Burma.
The 128i's six-speed automatic transmission makes the worst of this magnificent motor. Clearly,the slushbox was built by an HR worker on Valium. Want to accelerate? Fill out the required paperwork and the transmission will get back to you tomorrow. The buff books peg the 128i’s zero to sixty acceleration (a useful metric if there ever wasn’t one) at about six seconds and change, which puts it just ahead of the $23k Volkswagen GTI.
Listen here hot shoes: the 128i Convertible has a fat, lazy slushbox. If cars lived in a dictatorship, the 128i’s transmission would have to dig its own grave and then lean forward. And once moving, the autobox keeps bringing the hurt. A ’64 GM three-speed is smoother. Still.
The 128i's steering requires both hands and a foot; the 128i stays flat in turns because it has its own gravitational field. Throwing it around bends is like asking pro football player Jared Lorenzen “The Round Mound of Touchdown” to dance ballet and then perform a double bypass while wearing oven mitts. Parking is the only fun to be had here.
Now, the price…
There’s only two ways to think about this. Either the 128i is cheap compared to the 328i convertible (the Armani Exchange School of Thought), or it’s expensive compared to its rivals (the You Couldn’t Pay Me to Endure This Suspension School of Thought). If 128i Convertible buyers fall into the first category, BMW just screwed themselves out of several hundred thousand grand. Even if the 128i brings in loads of newbies, the lost profit from people who would have bought a 3-Series cab will be significant.
What’s German for D’oh! If you want a real “I could’ve had a CPO drop top 645ci V8” moment, consider the fact that the 128i convertible I drove stickered at a staggering $42,575. Talk about a shot to the kidney [grills]. On the other hand, who gives a shit? If you’re a cute forget the ute Bimmer fan who’s got the big bucks, why not pay it and enjoy the 128i Convertible for what it is? Oh wait, it’s not that nice. Right. Never mind.
Nick on May 06, 2008If cars lived in a dictatorship, the 128i’s transmission would have to dig its own grave and then lean forward. That is classic! Best TTAC quote yet. 'sorostitutes'...I knew I should have gone to an American university. Oh yes, the car is damned ugly in person. A 3-series that's been Abbott and Costello'd. BMW drops a turd.
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