As just about everybody knows, the Bavarians are excelling at a minimum of two things, rear wheel drive cars and beer. Having already established itself as premium manufacturer of sporty vehicles in the 1980s, BMW kept upping its ante to the point where it almost became unrecognizable. To be more exact, BMW cars became larger and heavier in the next two decades. Sure, they weren't the only ones whose cars kept gaining inches and pounds over the years, but until about five years ago, the Bavarians were no longer having a compact(ish) model to brag about.
Logically, the BMW E30's modern successor would be the BMW E90 3-Series. Except that it isn't. In the past two decades, the 3-Series became almost as big as a 20-year old something 5-Series, while the gap left under it remained empty. Then, 2004 came. Technically a true spiritual successor to the BMW E30, the 1-Series almost made as much sense in the Bavarian lineup as the Golf did in the Volkswagen one.
Compact in size, rear wheel drive and an almost perfect front/rear axle/weight ratio, what more could you want from an entry-level BMW? Well, some clients wanted more than a hatchback, so the 1-Coupe came three years later. And what would a coupe be without a topless sibling? Enter the 1-Series Cabriolet.
The Cabriolet version of the 1-Series Coupe, which in turn is based on the 1-Series Hatchback, which also shares some of its components with the over-inflated 3-Series... [pause for breathing]... was launched in 2007. It thus filled the 14-year old void left by the interruption of the last truly compact 3-Series E30 Cabriolet in 1993. All the BMW four-seat cabriolets which followed that one were more and more oversized therefore not qualifying as true successors.
We became acquainted with our first Cabriolet from BMW in the form of a petrol-engined 1-Series Convertible, in 120i guise. Equipped with a high-revving two-liter four-banger and a six-speed manual gearbox, we couldn't have asked for more in terms of true BMW sportiness and driving pleasure. Sure, a few more ponies and an extra couple of cylinders under the hood would have been nice, but the rest was pretty much the epitome of everything that meant BMW in the 1980s.Continue reading