BMW is known all over the world for having been a pioneer as far as enjoyable cars and racing thrills go. All of its cars like the 3 series, 5 series or for that matter, the luxury sedan 7 series combine 1st rate luxury with a ride and handling package which none can match. The Z4 is one such car. It is a retractable hardtop convertible and a rear wheel driven one at that. It replaced the Z3, made famous by a one Mr. Bond in a movie. The Z4 was first introduced to the world in 2002. Strangely, it went on to win the “Design of the year” award. Imagine a Chris Bangle penned design winning an award. The man must have been in so much shock himself. But now, that he has stepped down, BMW have given the world an all new Z4, the design reigns been taken over now by Nadya Arnaout and Juliane Blasi, both been bred out of the BMW’s Munich design studio, the Z4 is now more appealing to the eye. Very little of Bangle’s flaming surface design can be seen on the 2010 Z4.
The Z4 was all curvaceous before the 2010 model came. It retains most of the curves however the front end looks like on from those big ruffian fishes in the “Finding Nemo” movie. It has a very long hood which has curves on it that scream for attention. The signature kidney grills are all decked up in chrome. If any one dares sit on the bonnet, they are certain to slide down the long nose. Those curves actually wrap themselves around the car. The Z4 wouldn’t look out of place with some shark fins on the sides. Its air dams are also chrome lined and the air dams themselves are huge with the blue propeller sitting between the kidney grills.
The side profile also has many curves flowing along it and those huge 17 inch wheels do justice to the BMW’s sporty image. The aerodynamically inclined outside rear view mirrors look equally good on this car. The rear is also a fat blob and probably not the best side to look at the BMW from. The tail lamps are a huge LED affair and house the turn indicators as well as reverse lights. Two reflectors adorn the rear bumper and the twin silencers just shyly peep out. BMW could have done well enough to give this car the X5’s tail pipes. The high mounted stop light is also a neat LED thing.
The best. This two words describe the interiors of the BMW. It is unlike any BMW’s cabin. This gives it an air of exclusivity. The passenger wouldn’t feel alienated in this cabin as it pampers both driver and passenger. The high quality leather and subtle use of wood defines its interiors. The Idrive system is the best, even better than that of the 7 series. It can now be easily said that it is more intuitive to use than Mercedes Comand and Audi’s MMI. The big screen coupled with a big rotary knob and several smaller buttons help simplify the menu.
The sky view after you put the top down is also a revelation in itself. All it takes is a mere 17 seconds to get the top down. The steering wheel is more like that of a Volkswagen in look than the typical BMW one. It has aluminum inserts holding the adaptive cruise control,audio and bluetooth controls in it. The meter dials are those simplistic looking but extremely futuristic BMW fare. The door handles are in brushed aluminium, something which even the 7 series has only has an option, is standard on the Z4.
The interior quality is first rate more so than its competition like the Mer SLK, Nissan 370Z and the Porsche Boxster. Forget the Mazda Miata as it is nowhere in this aforementioned league. All the plastics are soft touch but are coated with a refractive solution so that they can refract the sun light when the top is down. The build quality, as expected is also top knotch.
Such a small cabin and you wouldn’t expect many cubby holes however BMW has outdone its rivals by offering as many cubby holes where you can find them. A double glove box with door map pockets plus two cup holders and a stowage place just behind the seats doubles as a passway for long objects as well.
The boot space is a ridiculous 11 cubic feet and when the top is down, it shrinks to 6 cubic feet. The other problem is that even with the top up, the boot space is intruded by all those hooks.
Forget the ride as this is a Sports car and even the comfort setting takes little from that firm ride. However it isn’t as firm as say, the Nissan 370Z. The BMW Z4 never promised to be a 7 series as regards comfort is concerned. Its chassis is made up of aluminium. This includes the brake callipers, suspension components, front axle subframe and even the body of the car. This helps it in keeping weight at a check.
The weight is also perfectly distributed, a low center of gravity plus a track stance and a low center of gravity ensures that it hugs the roads like a leech to a bull’s skin. The handling as expected from all BMWs is top notch however it been a rear wheel driven car and no all wheel drive as an option, you are bound to get fun power slides, if you are in the mood for it.
For 2010, the BMW Z4 is been offered in two engine trims. One is the 3.0 liter straight 6 which gives 225 hp and about 223 Nm of torque. The other engine is the 3.0 liter straight turbocharged one which makes do with 306 hp and 300 pound feet of torque.
The base engine doesn’t disappoint on the power front and both the trims are offered in a 6 speed manual guise. You do get auto transmission on both the engines. For the base engine, it is a 6 speed and for the turbocharged one, it is the new 7 speed automatic.
The base sDrive30i clocked in from 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds and the turbo charged one in 5.0 seconds. All the juice from the turbocharged mill is available from as low as 1300 rpm to 4500 rpm. This makes it exceptionally quick of the lines.The turbo’s turbines are made of a special quality steel which has a very high resistance to temperature. BMW pioneered BER or Brake Energy regeneration ensures that the battery remains charged when you press on the brake pedal.
It allows for freewheeling during cruising and hence helps in the vehicle’s overall efficiency. Braking is handled by special BMW designed disc brakes and supporting it is a whole plethora of electronics like ABS, Electronic Stability Program, traction control and etc. The brakes when not engaged, clean the disc rotors and the moment you lift your feet off the throttle, the rotors are brought close to the wheels in anticipation of brake.
The use of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics has helped in giving the Z4 good economy over all this usable performance. For the sDrive30i with manual transmission, the Z4 gave 20 mpg in city and 29 on the highway whereas the auto transmission gave 19 and 27 mpg in the city-highway cycle.
The turbocharged version gave 18 mpg in the city and the 25mpg on the higway with its manual transmission. The automatic variant gave 17mpg in city and 24mpg on the highway. All these figures are EPA tested ones.
The BMW Z4 got top scores for crash and safety from the US government whereas the IIHS gave it their top ranking of “Good” for the same parameters.
Safety equipment includes 4 airbags, an aluminium roof which prevents injury in case of a roll over and dynamic drive control.
The Z4 is a niche in itself and guaranteed to grant you admiration wherever you go. It can be a civilian when you want and when the time arises you some hooliganism, it is up for a game. Ladies would simply drool over it and the gentleman would beg you for a drive. It scores a perfect figure in the crash testings and its retracting top is a party trick in itself. It can beat most of the supercars in its competition and at the same time cocoon you in ultimate luxury. The exclusivity factor also counts seeing that the interiors are not like other BMWs. It isn’t too thirsty as well and cheaper or at par with its competition.
The BMW Z4 range starts from $46,000 to 52,000 for the top end.
|Length: 167.9 in.||Width: 70.5 in.|
|Height: 50.8 in.||Wheel Base: 98.3 in.|
|Kerb Weight: 3251 lbs.|
|Front Head Room: 40.1 in.||Front Shoulder Room: 54.3 in.|
|Front Leg Room: 43.2 in.||Maximum Seating: 2|
|Number of Cylinders: 6||Engine Size: 3 liters|
|Engine Type: Inline 6||Horsepower: 255 hp|
|Max Horsepower: 6500 rpm||Torque: 220 ft-lbs.|
|Max Torque: 2400 rpm||Drive Type: RWD|
|Turning Circle: 34.1 ft.|
|Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.5 gal.|
|EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway)|
|Manual: 18 mpg / 28 mpg|