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When BMW introduced its 1-series to the U.S. market, it quickly followed on with a 1-series convertible. Like the Coupe, the Convertible can be had as the 128i or the 135i model, denoting the different engines available.
Although the smallest of BMW's offerings, the 1-series doesn't look terribly different from the 3-series in front. The difference in body styles is most notable from the side.
The 3-liter straight-six engine is the same as used in the 328i. It produces a modest 230 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque.
Our test car came with the Sport package, which includes 17-inch wheels. We really couldn't imagine smaller wheels on this car.
Unlike BMW's convertible sedans, the 128i uses a soft top. It is power-operated and works quickly.
Although a sport-tuned suspension came with the Sport package, we weren't terribly impressed by the 128i's handling in the corners. It didn't feel as glued to the pavement as the 135i.
Because the convertible is a soft top, it doesn't compromise trunk space, as a retractable hard top would.
The cabin materials and finish don't differ greatly from more expensive BMW models. We particularly like the dark wood trim in this car. The LCD is a pop-up unit.
The 128i delivers good steering response, as we would expect on a BMW, but the suspension limits what you can do in the corners.
BMW uses a very clean design for its gauges, and trip computer information is shown on the display between the tachometer and speedometer.
A six-speed automatic is an option on the 128i Convertible, in place of a six-speed manual. This automatic transmission has normal, sport, and manual modes.
BMW's navigation system includes traffic reporting, with traffic flow displayed as arrows. The closer together the arrows, the slower traffic is going.
The navigation system can also show its maps in 3D format.
The optional USB port can be used with a USB thumb drive or with an iPod. Music from either type of device is displayed on the car's LCD.
The interface for USB drives is very simple, merely letting you browse folders until you find MP3 files.
BMW uses a nice design for the radio tuner. Along with standard radio, the car can be optioned up with HD and satellite radio.
Bluetooth cell-phone integration comes with the BMW Assist package, which also includes a telematics service.
You can program the diamond and star buttons on the steering wheel's right spoke, assigning the functions shown on this screen.