BMW’s last version of the Z4 had two different variants, a ragtop roadster and a hardtop coupe. With the second iteration of the Z4 now upon us, BMW have taken a slightly different path. The two different versions have now been merged into one. A hardtop roadster that can be a coupe when weather turns nasty, or an open-top roadster when cruising under the sun.
Now, there are several problems that usually come with employing a retractable hardtop. The first is the look. Retractable Hard-Top Vehicles, or RHTV’s as I will call them, tend to look good in one guise, and look a little off when transformed. I must admit that the Z4 seems to have pulled off an exception to this trend, as it loo
ks great in any guise. Not to mention both the interior and shapely new exterior styling are quite captivating, and intriguing. The new design gives the car a more stylish and refined look to match its sporty character.
The second problem with a RHTV is storage space. That big roof has to go somewhere, and trunk space is almost always the sacrificial lamb. The Z4 is no different here as the 310 L of truck space is reduced to 180L with the roof packed away. Now for two people packing light for two weeks, we were just able to get the roof down. However, lazy in packing and some souvenirs soon meant the roof was stuck in coupe configuration.
Finally the third problem is body rigidity. So often, convertibles fail miserably here, however the Z4 was an impressive surprise. With the roof up, the body felt as rigid as any coupe, but the big surprise was with the roof down. Without the support of the roof reinforcements, the increase in body flex was nominal, and barely noticeable. And body rigidity is an important part of the performance of this car. It is BMW’s only real sportscar after all. So how does it go down the road, you ask? Well, like a bat out of hell, I say!
I had the great fortune to be able to test the Z4 in just about the greatest place possible, the Alps. Pulling away from Munich on the A8 Autobahn, it seemed a good time to find out the cars top speed. With the 300 hp 3.0L inline 6 of the sDrive35i at full howl with both turbos glowing red, 256 km/h is what the dash told me as we gobbled up tremendous amounts of terrain per second, the car always giving a planted and confident feeling. All well and good, but a sportscar is all about the curves. While I was already impressed by the cars curves, I am now talking about the ones in the road.
Entering into the Alps, I headed off to sample several famous passes, riddled with dangerous corners and life ending drops. Childs play for the Z4. The cars balanced chassis and brakes are magnificently tuned to absorb any kind of abuse the Stelvio or Furka could throw at it. Interaction and communication between car and driver needs no translation, as the Z4 quickly becomes an extension of your own extremities. However, the biomechanical feeling seemed to short circuit when it came to the electrical side of the equation. Now I am one who likes to have full mechanical control over a car, but the Dual-Clutch 7-Speed automatic and electronically controlled Limited slip did tend to dull driver control when approaching the vehicles limits, despite their inherent increase to the vehicles performance. That being said, the Z4 sDrive35i still represents one of the most complete sportscar available today.
Price as tested: $
Layout: Front Engine – Rear Wheel Drive
Engine: 3.0L Twin turbo Inline-6
Transmission: 7-Speed Automatic Dual Clutch with manual shift
Brakes: Four-wheel Disc
Curb Weight: 1,585 kg
Towing Capacity: NA
0-100 km/h: 5.2 sec
Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 12.2/8.2L/100km