New BMW Z4 Review

27 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on New BMW Z4 Review

David Morley

New BMW Z4

It seemed to reinforce the BMW Z4#8217;s niche-product status to learn that the only way to launch the facelifted version in the midst of an Aussie winter was to take it and the motoring press to Cairns in Far North Queensland.

Even though the folding metal-roof endows the Z4 with an all-weather capacity to equal a closed coupe, that#8217;s missing the point.

That elusive point being, of course, that the Z4 is a convertible and since you#8217;re paying for the roofless experience, it needed to be shown off in that mode. So Cairns it was.

There#8217;s also the fact that, as facelifts go, this was not in the league of Cher or Paul Hogan. In fact, while the Z4 gets a slightly new face with modified headlights, the big(ger) news is the car#8217;s new value equation.

Rather than slash the price-tag, BMW has elected to add specification to the car. Most significantly, this has meant that the eight-speed automatic transmission is now standard on four-cylinder versions of the Z4, the sDrive20i and sDrive28i.

Previously a $3000 option, the automatic option was one favoured by about 90 per cent of previous Z4 buyers, according to local sales and marketing head, Alan Swanson.

The four-cylinder Z4 can still be had with a six-speed manual transmission as a no-cost option, while the six-cylinder Z4, the sDrive35is, is fitted exclusively with the seven-speed clutchless manual transmission.

Some interior additions and improved seating have also been fitted to the sDrive20i, with BMW claiming the price increase of $2400 to $79,900 is more than offset by the extra $9000 worth of equipment on board.

The sDrive28i now gets standard 18-inch wheels, puddle and ambient lighting, sports seats and a stereo upgrade, representing a $7000 spike in value against an $800 price drop to $89,900.

The $119,545 sDrive35is, meanwhile, gets adaptive suspension as standard, keyless entry and start, adaptive headlights, a wind deflector and some M-spec interior enhancements to give it a $3000 value advantage over the car it replaces, despite a $450 price cut.

The hero model remains, of course, that six-cylinder sDrive35is with its 250kW of power and 450Nm of torque.

But more impressive than the bald numbers is the sheer entertainment value of a bassy inline six-cylinder from a company that has made the layout a real trademark.

The 3.0-litre engine in the 35is booms at idle, wails at full noise and burps between upshifted gears. It is a true highlight of the car.

Strangely, though, the four-cylinder 28i is possibly even more fun to drive.

It lacks the audio-drama, but still presents a character-filled soundtrack with pops and blurts in all the appropriate places.


But the lighter engine seems to have given the front suspension of the Z4 a better chance at keeping everything on track.

Where the more nose-heavy 35is can be coaxed into a little skip sideways should you encounter a mid-corner bump, the four-cylinder cars are much less likely to play the same game.

The smaller-engined Z4 also seems to turn in a little more readily with better steering feel than the six-cylinder version.

And you could hardly call the sDrive28i slow off the mark with 180kW and 350Nm from its 2.0 litres.

Even the entry-level car, the sDrive20i with its 135kW and 270Nm feels frisky and up for a bit of fun.

That said, all the Z4 variants felt much longer than they feel wide (it could partly be an optical illusion thanks to that long, rounded bonnet stretching out in front of you) and although there#8217;s actually plenty of footprint, they can feel a bit narrow when pushing hard.

Perhaps it#8217;s the ultra low-profile (30 series) 19-inch tyres that impart the almost-but-not-quite-nervous feeling.

Ultimately, though, either of the three Z4 variants is a great buzz to drive although, as the Cairns experience shows, they#8217;re even more fun with the roof down.

An experience heightened by being in the right place at the right time? Yep, that#8217;s a niche product all right.

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