ROADSTERS have played an important role in BMW’s history and the latest, all-new BMW Z4 is set to write another chapter in the open-top story.
Since the birth of the first example – the famous BMW 328 – all BMW roadsters have shared common proportions and design principles – long bonnet, low, set-back driving position, long wheelbase and short overhangs. The new BMW Z4 is no different.
A powerfully sculpted front apron with large air intakes, a low, broad BMW kidney grille and headlights positioned at the outer edges ensure there is no mistaking the car from the front. The new-look mesh-design BMW kidney grille includes a track-inspired honeycomb pattern.
At the rear the spoiler and the slender, horizontally arranged light assemblies give the tail of the new Z4 a wide, sporty appearance. All-in-all it looks less fussy and more purposeful than what has gone before and I’m sure most Z4 fans will give it a nod of approval.
There are two trim levels for the BMW Z4 – Sport 20i (from £37,115 OTR) and M Sport 30i (from £38,865 OTR) – in addition to the M Performance M40i model (from £49,185 OTR).
The Sport model features design elements in High-gloss Black on the front crossbar and the rear apron’s insert, along with 18-inch light-alloy wheels and is the model I have been dashing around the Peak District in for the last week.
The maximum output of 197hp developed by the sDrive20i propels the car to 62mph from rest in 6.6 seconds. The sDrive20i burns an average of 38.7-39.8mpg and produces CO2 emissions of 138g/km.
The engine under the bonnet of the sDrive30i delivers an output of 258hp, while peak torque of 400Nm is available. The result is a zero to 62mph sprint time of 5.4 seconds. Combined fuel consumption is 37.7-38.7mpg and CO2 emissions are 138g/km.
The BMW Z4 M40i features a straight-six unit with M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology. Its standout features include a water-cooled exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head, sharper turbocharger response and superior acceleration. Drivers have a maximum output of 340hp at their disposal giving a 0-62mph time of just 4.5 seconds.
The interior of the new BMW Z4 has been improved immensely over the older model with electroplated detailing adding to the roadster’s ambience. The clearly structured arrangement of the controls focuses the attention on the driving experience with everything falling to hand easily with a driving position that is top-notch.
The BMW Live Cockpit Professional is standard fit on the Z4 and brings a new display and operating system. It has fully digital displays consisting of a high-resolution instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and the Control Display in the centre console – each of which has a screen diagonal of 10.25ins and looks very impressive indeed. The BMW Live Cockpit Professional also features an adaptive navigation system, a hard-drive-based multimedia system, two USB ports, plus Bluetooth and Wi-Fi interfaces.
The optional wind deflector fits flush between the fixed rollover bars while the storage space behind the seats, the cup holders under the centre armrest and the large door pockets add further practical features.
Boot capacity is 281 litres whether the soft-top is open or closed – an increase of more than 50 per cent compared to the outgoing model.
The Z4 is fitted as standard with an advanced hi-fi speaker system which includes a total of ten speakers and output of 205 watts. For an even more impressive aural experience, there is the harman/kardon surround sound system complete with digital amplifier, 12 speakers and 464-watt total output which is available as part of the Technology package. However, I found the standard setup to be more than adequate even with the roof down.
Driving the BMW Z4 is a satisfying and engaging experience with the lack of a manual gearbox not being a problem as the 8-speed auto is a peach – even in the lowly Sport model.
The 2.0-litre’s 197bhp felt more than enough to wring a lot of fun out of the BMW roadster and I found the revised, light-weight suspension offered adequate damping even over rougher surfaces in Comfort mode.
Switch to Sport and the ride is a little firmer – ideal for a B-road blast – but I did find the car could skip a little over sharper ridges and imperfections in the road. Steering is sharp and accurate though and overall the Z4 feels typically BMW in that the chassis is so good the car feels poised no matter how you drive it.
It’s a great cruiser too with much less cabin noise, at speed, than I was expecting. Holding a conversation with your passenger at 70mph is easy, although with the roof off, unsurprisingly not so much.
Overall, the new Z4 is a worthy continuation of BMW’s roadster heritage and raises the bar when it comes to in-car tech and overall refinement. If you’re in the market for a classy 2-seater roadster then it’s a model you must consider.
AT A GLANCE:
BMW Z4 Sport
OTR Price: £37,115
Engine: 2.0 turbo petrol
Power: 197 bhp
Transmission: 8-speed Automatic
0-62mph: 6.6 secs
Top Speed: 149 mph
Combined Economy: 38.7 mpg
C02: 138 g/km