Launch Pad: BMW 4 Series Convertible and M235i

Las_Vegas_skyline_hotel_roomLas Vegas, land of neon honey, gambling mecca. Seems a strange place to launch a pair of new BMWs, no?

But there is sunshine – which is useful in January, when one of them is a convertible – the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and, let’s be honest, everyone likes a sure fire bet.

For although both of these cars represent new nameplates for BMW, neither is likely to represent much of a risk for the brand. After all, the 4 Series Convertible is a continuation of three previous generations of 3 Series Convertible, while the 2 Series Coupe replaces the old 1 Series Coupe. And we’re testing the latter in M235i guise – so it’s a swoopier, sexier, stiffer version of the already legendary M135i hot hatch.

As you can tell from the picture above, I’m yet to lay eyes on the cars – that’ll come in a couple of hours – so you’ll have to rely on the posted press photos for the time being. But I have spent the evening in the company of engineers, discussing such geeky details as the use of bumpstops for roll control, adaptive damper parameters, and the number of aerials required for decent reception in a modern, metal-roofed cabriolet (about 20, I’m told…).

I live for this stuff. But I rather suspect it’s beyond the tolerance of most casual enthusiasts. So will press on.

Things that are worth knowing include the 4 Series vert’s 20-second roof activation time, which is possible at speeds up to 8mph – reducing how long you’ll hold people up at traffic lights when you get caught in a summer shower. Oh, and the 2 Series not only features a more rigid body structure, its suspension is retuned to speed up direction changes, and there’s an optional limited slip diff…

For those curious, we have also established that the 2 Series is specced to withstand the rigours of an even more powerful engine than the 326hp turbo six fitted here – so a new M2 to replace the sought-after 1M Coupe is very much on the cards. Just don’t expect to see it for a couple of years yet, due to the way BMW AG and BMW M’s production cycles work.