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fashion ž lifestyle

P

erhaps your budget won't

quite stretch to Aston Martin's

Vantage V12 S Roadster, but

you're still keen on the idea

of open-topped motoring. If

so, let us suggest an excellent

alternative for less than

a third of the price - the

newly launched BMW

M235i Cabriolet.

Turning a conventional

car into a cabrio very rarely

makes for a good drivers'

car. The roof of a saloon

or coupé doesn't just keep

out the rain and unwanted

intruders; it's also a major

structural component.

So removing it tends to

dramatically reduce the strength of what's

left, and requires manufacturers to add

weight with substantial reinforcement.

And although both of these charges

can, to an extent, be levelled at the M235i

Cabriolet when compared to its truly

excellent Coupé sister, it's fair to say that

it has survived decapitation better than

almost anything else. When driven down a

bumpy road at high speed you sense some

extra motion as the bodyshell struggles to

deal with the undulations, and the extra

145kg of weight blunts reactions slightly

when compared to the – eet-footed Coupé.

But it's still a great car, especially when

cruising with the roof down, enjoying the

cabin's snug insulation and experiencing

the engine's solid power delivery. The open

M235i can't match the level of grip o§ ered

by the (considerably more expensive) M4

Cabriolet, but

that makes it a

more involving

car to drive at real-world speeds, and one

you don't need to thrash mercilessly to feel

you're getting the best from it. It's not a true

sports car, but it gets closer than any other

mainstream cabriolet we can think of.

Best bits: Handsome, well equipped

and great with the roof down.

Worst bits: Heavier and less rigid than

the Coupé; more expensive, too.

BMW M235I CABRIOLET

If you're looking to spend summer soaking up the rays in

a cabriolet, you'd be hard pressed to do better than this

BMW M235I CABRIOLET

Price: £39,255

Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder,

turbocharged

Power: 322bhp

0-62mph: 5 seconds

Top speed: 155mph (limited)

Economy: 35.8mpg

It's a great car when cruising with the roof

down, enjoying the cabin's snug insulation

How to get there from civilisation

Take the M1 north, turn onto the M6 and

then keep going until you get to Junction 40

in Cumbria. Turn right onto the A66 and pick

up the A686 at the next roundabout.

What's so great about it?

The Hartside Pass is a superb moorland

blast - a fast, � owing road with a great

variety of corners and superb views. It can

get busy at weekends, especially with

crowds of motorbikes, so it's best sampled

as a diversion on a midweek drive.

Any reasons to stop en route?

De� nitely - to take in the views. Or even

to catch a train: the road crosses the Settle

and Carlisle line at Langwathby, giving you

the chance to experience one of Britain's

most scenic railways. If you're sticking with

the car, then the Hartside Café (at 1,900ft)

commands a spectacular vista.

Best car to do it in?

One for a sports car that will feel fun without

going so fast that you end up breaking rocks

in a quarry. So we'd pick the Toyota GT86.

PENRITH TO ALSTON

Total length: 20 miles

Great British Drives

Mike Du� is European Editor for Car and Driver Magazine

fashion ž lifestyle

PHOTO © BMW AG

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