The ravishing new BMW Z4 would make necks curl and eyes pop without even letting its top down. We just took the beauty out for a date.
The BMW Z4 is one of the most modern interpretations of the traditionally iconic roadster body type for automobiles. Having made its debut in the year 2002, the Z4 replaced the Z3 model. It’s been more than a decade since the Z4 first made its appearance, and the car that we here in these pictures is the mid-life facelift of the second gen avatar of the model. The most modern and visually enchanting exponent of BMWs roadster lineup till date is one charming machine to drive too.
Images: Amit Chhangani and Yatharth Chauhan
Meant to fuse together the timeless lines of a classic roadster body type with modern technology and an involving drive feel for the man behind the wheel, the Z4 has a characteristic flavor and appeal. Defined in form by a long bonnet, low beltline, extremely low seating position and stubby rear end, the Z4 reeks of sportiness and agility no matter which angle you look at it from. A long sweeping line emanating from the headlamps and ending behind the door visually pronounces the length of the car in profile. Low center of gravity and a seating position just ahead of the rear axle delivers an unmatched drive feel to the occupants as the transverse and longitudinal G-Forces at work on the rear wheels can be experienced aplenty.
While we love the Z4 much more with its top down, the car looks amazing with its metal roof up as well. The tin top takes just 19 seconds to cover the occupants or disappear in that short trunk, and can be put on or brought down while the car is still moving at speeds of up to 40km/h.
The A-pillars of the Z4 are painted in black to provide a sense of continuity to the body color when the roof is down; thus visually enhancing the long, streamlined shape of the car. The satin silver finish rollover bars, while offering safety in the rare occasion of a rollover, also offer great contrast to the special orange shade our test car came drenched in.
So how well does all of that design exercise work in the real world? Well, we witnessed windows of cars surrounding us at traffic lights roll down to take pictures, motorcyclists traveling in the opposite direction twisted their necks to have a proper look at the car, and some motorists in Aamby Valley actually turned their cars around to have another look. The Z4, thus, is one of the simplest ways possible to turn yourselves into a celebrity from the moment you step in.
Engine and Transmission
Powering this lithe beauty from under that long, sweeping bonnet is a 3.0 liter inline-6 BMW TwinPower Turbo gasoline engine dishing out 306 bhp of power at 5,800 rpm and 400 Nm of peak torque spread between an incredibly wide rev-band of 1,300-5,000 rpm. Performance from this sporty machine, as you would expect is top notch, with 0-100km/h dispatched in about 5 seconds while top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. Official fuel economy figure is above 10kmpl, but expect a much smaller figure if you drive this car the way it’s meant to be driven.
The engine, positioned at the front is driven via the rear wheels. Transmission duties are taken care of by the 7 speed DCT dual clutch transmission offering lightening quick shifts. The snappiness of the double clutch transmission as compared to the single clutch auto transmission available on the less expensive model is clearly perceptible. You may allow the car to shift automatically, or shift manually via the paddle-shifters mounted behind the steering wheel. Manual shifts can also be accomplished using the drive selector, by slotting the lever towards left. The Z4 offers Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes to choose from. While the former two offer a varying degree of engine response, transmission shift points and steering feedback, the third option turns off the electronic nanny (traction control) to let you slide the RWD machine around bends, if you so wish.
Ride and handling
Just like most cars with a sporty character, the Z4’s suspension too is tuned on the stiffer side to aid agility and uncompromised handling. With space to seat only two and a very small trunk, the Z4 isn’t the most comfortable car you’d find to ferry yourself around. It is, however, a riot to drive and if you could excuse it for letting the omnipresent undulations and rough patches often percolate through the chassis into the cabin, and find yourself a smooth, twisty stretch of tar, you’d have reached pretty close to what’s termed as motoring nirvana for many.
The wide track of the car, along with the low center of gravity offers great driving involvement. The steering wheel, which is extremely well weighted, is incredibly precise and offers feedback by the truckloads. Grip from the 225-section front, and 255-section rear Bridgestone Potenza rubber wrapped around lightweight 18 inch alloys is more than adequate. Everything put together turns the Z4 into a phenomenally fun car to drive, especially around well laid out windy road sections. The Z4 feels amazingly light and nimble, showing terrific poise and balance even when made to slide.
While we are in awe of the nimbleness and fine balance exhibited by the Z4 around bends, making it an absolute riot to pilot around serpentine roads, it didn’t impress us as much as some of the other bigger BMWs as regards straight line poise at extreme speed. At the absolute upper extreme of its speed range, the Z4 feels slightly edgy, especially if the road surface is not immaculately laid out. While braking is razor sharp and packs a solid punch, you tend to hold on to the steering wheel tight and lift off the right foot owing to the slightly tense behavior of the car on the limit.
Space and Equipment
The Z4 isn’t a car for you if space and comfort is what you’re looking for. It’s meant to be stepped down from at the Porte Cochere of a seven-star hotel, for the odd fun-run to the nearest windy road leading up to a hill or to impress the pretty girl you’d want to take out for a dinner. It’s not the car you pilot interstate.
In addition to the space for two up front, there is a small platform behind the seats to put a small bag or a haversack. Behind this, you have a half-a-foot tall net spanning the width of the car to serve as a bay for small sized stuff. You also have a small compartment behind the backseat, with a shelf in the middle to store knick knacks.
An argument in favor of the space offered by the BWM Z4 is that the boot space is fairly good at 310 liters with the roof up. So if you don’t find any need to let the wind in your hair, the Z4 can actually let you carry stuff for a long weekend for two. With the roof down, however, this space shrinks down to 180 liters, which doesn’t allow for anything more than a small to medium sized suitcase.
True to its premium positioning, the BMW Z4 comes loaded with modern tech. The most mentionable of the long feature list include the bi-xenon front headlamps with LED daytime running lights, headlight washers, rain sensors, automatic headlamps, shifter paddles, two-zone air-conditioning, four airbags, rollover protections system, corner brake control (CBC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) which includes Traction Control and an electronic differential lock.
Features and other details
BMW Z4’s center console brings a respite from the always similar center consoles on the rest of the BMW lineup. Check out the contrasting red double stitch. Front A/C is a dual zone unit, as clear from the controls.
You can choose from Comfort, Sport and Sport + modes. Sport + mode puts the the eletronic watchdog to sleep. The new dual clutch transmission is lightening quick.
The mount point over the front windshield for the tin top.
Contrasting orange leather interior makes the door panels of the Z4 look extremely sporty. Doors don’t have space to store bottles though
Beautiful corona rings make the Z4 look sinister when viewed front on
A little compartment behind the front seats allows for storage of small items
The audio system sounds fab. Check out the hook above the speaker to allow fastening of items with bungee cords.
Satin silver finish roll bars provide safety in case of rollover, while also embelleshing the Z4’s look from the rear
Instrument console is primarily analogue. The central MID offers all the information you need though. We would have loved this console to be all digital with a high-res screen though
Various menus on the pop-out screen over the center console
The glove box is small, though it still good enough to store your documents.
The full cycle of the Z4’s roof going down
The Z4 is a modern classic by every definition. The first and foremost objective of this car is to grab attention, look beautiful, and to underline the fact that its occupants are special people. It goes about its primary job in the most emphatic fashion possible. In addition, it has every bit of BMWs time tested performance and driving awesomeness, which it fuses with the intoxicating charm of drop top motoring.
Sure, it’s not the most comfortable car to get ferried in, nor can it ever be the only car in your garage owing to its limitations with regards space. However, if you are one of the lucky few for whom having a few exotics in their garage is the norm, the Z4 cannot be omitted from the list. It’s a beautiful, beautiful car, in every sense of the word.
Price INR 71 lakh ex-showroom
Engine: 2979, 6 cylinder, twin turbo
Transmission: 7 Speed DCT, dual clutch automatic
Peak Power: 306 bhp @ 5800 rpm
Peak Torque: 400 Nm @ 1300-5000 rpm