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Stephen Walker with the 
BMW Z4 on Phillip Island (copyright image)

ROAD TEST:   BMW Z4 sDrive35i

by Stephen Walker

8th June, 2009

Home > Road Tests > BMW

Roadsters have been a part of BMW's history since 1934, when the 315/1 was shown in Berlin. In more contemporary times, BMW have had their Z1 and Z8 available in limited numbers. But BMW's modern day roadsters have captured the attention of a worldwide audience.

The American-built Z3 came along in 1995 and has provided the Munich based company with an element of success that wasn't available with the limited numbers of their Z1 and Z8 sports cars. The BMW Z4, which first appeared in 2002, built on the success of the Z3 roadster. The Z4 eventually being built as both a roadster and, more recently, as a coupe.

But that was then and this is now. A newly styled BMW Z4 has been released onto the Australian market. Three variations are available. Namely, Z4 sDrive23i (priced from $86,200 recommended price before statutory and delivery charges), Z4 sDrive30i (from $98,100 recommended price before statutory and delivery charges) and Z4 sDrive35i (from $116,900 recommended price before statutory and delivery charges). Whilst the model names may sound confusing, the market will no doubt just drop the "sDrive" component of the branding.

On this occasion, Next Car drove the top-of-the-line model, the BMW Z4 sDrive35i.

The test car was fitted with an optional satellite navigation system, which worked well in metro Melbourne.

BMW Z4 (copyright image)

BMW Z4 (copyright image)

BMW Z4 (copyright image)

BMW Z4 (copyright image)

BMW Z4 (copyright image)

The Z4 35i features a twin turbo 3.0 litre 6 cylinder engine which provides some 225 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque. BMW claim the car will do 0-100 km/h in just 5.1 seconds. You can be sure that I accept this particular claim as a fact!

The transmission was a 7 speed double-clutch automatic. It performed well and is a treat to experience. Quite rightly, it consigns a manual transmission to history.

We drove this car some 406 kms around Melbourne and environs (including Phillip Island), where we promptly settled into a positive frame of mind about BMW's newest sports car.

This new model is a well-built car and it is now put together in Germany. The US manufacturing plant which built the previous BMW Z4 now concentrates solely on BMW SUV production.

The immediately recognised quality of the new Z4 is appreciated. This aspect will, no doubt, continue to draw admiration towards the BMW Z4.

That quality is evident both inside and outside the new Z4. The interior not only feels nice, it looks very nice. The leather trim is standard, of course, as is heated seating and air conditioning. The presentation of contrasting trim will attract many enthusiastic comments, whilst the comfort will win many accolades.

The attractive seating provides a high level of comfort. The side bolsters are comfy, too. An extendable thigh support is present and will, no doubt, prove worthwhile on long drives. The driver is treated to the fitment of a solid footrest. The steering wheels adjusts, manually, four ways.

Noteworthy for this new model, which was released locally in recent weeks, is the retracting metal roof. The BMW Z4 is available with just one body style now. Gone is the roadster with a soft-top and gone is the coupe. Just one body is provided with this new model. The roof retracts promptly into its hide-away position. Just a press of a button is all that it takes to either lower or raise the lid. Boot space is surprisingly spacious (for a sports car), with the shallow boot capable of taking a few small overnight bags. A major draw card for the BMW Z4 is the attractiveness of the styling regardless of the roof being up or down.

Of course, the reasons for just one body style are numerous. Production wise, just one model makes sense when volumes are considered. Further, as society softens itself with a higher standard of living, fewer people want to test the perception that soft-tops are unsuitable for winter conditions. Yet the execution of this new model does, in reality, demonstrate that the car is both a coupe and a roadster. It looks good in both formats and, even better, it works well in both formats. On that basis, it must be considered that BMW have not compromised the Z4 at all, they have indeed made the Z4 more appealing.

Sports cars have just one drawback. The entry/egress process is often uncomfortable. It is this process that does detract from the appeal of the Z4. In a narrow garage or parking space, simply getting into the Z4 takes a bit of practice. No-one wants to cause an injury, so it is best to park a Z4 where you can open the door wide. Perhaps in time the steering wheel will elevate itself to a position which provides adequate clearance.

We were quite satisfied with the fuel consumption of the 3 litre in-line six. On the combined cycle, usage is rated at 9.8 litres of premium unleaded per 100 kilometres. This figure is definitely reasonable when you consider the performance available from this car.

The new German-made BMW Z4 sDrivei35 features a unique look, which will endear it to sports car enthusiasts. But better than the looks is the driving experience. The comfortable interior makes driving the Z4 quite a pleasure, whilst the driving dynamics guarantee an engaging experience ..... should such engagement be desired by the individual driver that is.

The BMW Z4 has no complications despite many high-tech features. It simply provides great satisfaction. And, in our view, our BMW Z4 road test suggests you'll never forget the acceleration ability of the sDrive35i!


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