Road test: BMW Z4
THE latest generation BMW Z4 has taken some time to really get into its stride, but when you look at the constituent parts of the current car, it's a real knockout. It looks great, drives well, is genuinely efficient and is now better value than ever.
The entry level variant in the range is now the Z4 sDrive18i, powered by a 2.0-litre 156bhp four and capable of getting to 62mph in a more than respectable 7.9 seconds. From there, it's a step up to the 2.0-litre 184bhp sDrive20i and then the third unit to share that 1997cc base engine, the 245bhp sDrive28i.
Then you get into the real heavy hitters in the range. The six-cylinder cars open with the twin turbo 306bhp 3.0-litre sDrive35i and steps up to the 340bhp sDrive35is.
Unlike the 3 Series Convertible, the first car BMW made with a metal folding roof, this Z4 has managed to retain the German brand's famed 50:50 weight distribution with the roof up but ironically, it's with the roof down and the extra weight over the rear wheels that it feels most responsive.
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There's virtually no body roll and in the dry at least, you rarely run out of grip. Most owners will want to pay around a thousand extra for the Adaptive M Sport Suspension which enables you to adjust the dampers depending on the driving conditions. Most of the time, you'll only use two settings – Normal and the stiffer Sport – but there is also a Sport+ setting which lowers the car by 10mm, firming things up still further for racetrack use and offering ten per cent more driver leeway before the stability control cuts in.
Most cars with metal folding roofs look a bit ungainly in their proportions, but the Z4 has a classic roadster profile with long bonnet and a pert glasshouse. The headlights now include white LED corona rings and a white "eyebrow" with additional chrome detailing, while in profile the side gill features chrome detailing and LED side repeater lights.
It's not as sharp as a Porsche Boxster to drive, but if you're not flogging it round track days it might well be the better all-round road car. The added refinement, safety and security of that folding hard top roof gives it a real edge. Added equipment, strong build quality and amazing efficiency also counts in its favour.
The Z4 might not be the first car you look at when choosing a sports roadster but look at it you must. It's now just too good not to.