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Car reviews - BMW - Z4 - sDrive35i


Yes, it looks nice, but the real star of the BMW Z4 show is the twin-turbo six ...

4 Sep 2009

LOOK hard, and then look harder again, because the E89 Z4 is not quite what it appears. Sure, the soft top has been turfed out for a (heavier) folding hardtop roof, and the interior now reeks of quality and luxury, so thoughts of a Mercedes-Benz SLK challenger instantly spring to mind. But the flagship sDrive35i has a formidable ace up its sleeve in the delicious form of BMW’s fabulous twin-turbo 3.0-litre powerplant, and this fact alone raises hopes for a two-seater roadster that can finally dislodge the long-reigning Porsche Boxster as the world’s greatest convertible. Has BMW succeeded?
Model release date: 1 May 2009 to 1 July 2015

Previous model

BMW Z4 Roadster

Released: April 2006
Ended: April 2009
Family Tree: Z4

MASSIVELY better than its disappointing Z3 predecessor, the E85 Z4 also espoused one of BMW head designer Chris Bangle’s more ambitious ‘flame surfacing’ styles, for an aggressive and distinctive rear-drive roadster look.

Again following the two-seater soft-top convertible philosophy, the Bavarians based the Z4 on the E46 generation 3 Series, which brought a multi-link rear suspension for sharpened handling compared to the Z3, although the incorporation of electric power steering dulled the steering against the Porsche Boxster that BMW was aiming the Z4 at. Engine choices for the non-M Roadster Z4 3.0i range topper were the 170kW/300Nm 3.0-litre inline petrol six mated to either a six-speed manual or five-speed Steptronic auto, until the 195kW/315Nm 3.0-litre in the 3.0si stepped in from March 2006’s Series II facelift, bringing with it a six-speed Steptronic automatic option. Fast, fun but hard riding, the Z4 3.0i/3.0si fell short between the more luxurious and refined Mercedes-Benz SLK and the sharper Boxster, so sales never reached BMW’s expectations, despite some shining reviews.

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