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BMW’s value-added Z4 roadster launches

Familiar outline: It's only a small facelift, but BMW's Z4 drop-top is now better value.

A minor update bundles in more equipment on BMW’s revised Z4 folding hardtop


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23 Aug 2013

BMW has given the niche Z4 folding hardtop roadster a subtle update to keep it fresh and visible against rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz SLK, Audi TT and - for the top-spec version at least - Porsche’s new Boxster.

But it’s not the minor tweaks to frontal styling and trim that headline the revised version, according to BMW Australia. Rather, it’s a sharpened value equation that sees up to $9000 of “extra value” packaged in.

The three-variant, rear-drive, folding metal-roofed range continues as before, but all get extra equipment, and the two entry versions get as standard the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission that previously cost an extra $3500.

For purists, a six-speed manual remains a no-cost option on both four-cylinder offerings - the sDrive20i and sDrive28i - but since roughly 90 per cent of Z4 buyers have historically opted for the auto, BMW doesn’t expect many takers.

The six-cylinder sDrive35is flagship remains a seven-speed dual clutch auto proposition only, with standard paddle shifters and copious throttle pops and blips on downshifts.

The entry sDrive 20i now retails for $79,900, an increase of $2400 which BMW claims in more than countered by $9000 worth of extra equipment ($3500 of this is accounted for by the now-standard auto transmission).

Standard features now include 3D satellite navigation, a high-res 8.8-inch dashtop display, internet connectivity, and a revised music smartphone music interface and voice control system.

This new spec comes in addition to existing equipment such as a rollover protection system, 17-inch alloy wheels with run-flat tyres, heated side mirrors, cruise control with auto braking, front and rear parking sensors, bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime runners, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, rain-sensing wipers, heated leather seats, dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth with audio.

The sDrive28i adds to this new 18-inch wheels, wheel-mounted paddle shifters and bigger seat bolsters, plus the new infotainment and internet system mentioned previously. As before, it also features an 11-speaker audio system and ‘ambient cabin lighting’.

The starting price of $89,900 is $100 cheaper than before.

Both the sDrive20i and 28i feature the familiar 2.0-litre TwinPower single-turbo petrol engine, tuned to two different outputs. These engines are unchanged from the pre-facelift Z4, and are used in a host of other BMW’s including the 3 Series an 5 Series.

The entry car has 135kW and 270Nm, dashes from zero to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds and uses 6.8 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle. The beefier 28i ups the ante to 180kW and 350Nm and the cuts the sprint time to 5.5s while using the same amount of fuel as the base version.

At the top of the range sits the sDrive35is, which gets new 19-inch wheels (they were 18s before), a wind deflector and the aforementioned internet connectivity. The price of $119,545 - about $18,000 more than a Porsche Boxster, for reference - is $450 cheaper than before.

Under that long bonnet sits the carryover 3.0-litre twin turbo inline-six, still producing a healthy 250kW and 450Nm, slashing the 0-100km/h sprint time to a speedy 4.8s. Claimed fuel use is 9.0L/100km.

A range of option packages are available, befitting BMW’s push into customisation (and most buyers opt for at least one): the existing Design Pure Balance and M Sport packages, plus a new package called Design Pure Traction.

The Design Pure Balance package includes sport seats, ‘Fineline Anthracite’ wood trim and unique leather upholstery to the seats, doors and armrests. It costs $3500 on the 20i and $2600 on the other two variants.

BMW tells a cracking tale about this “unique leather”. Apparently, it’s sourced from ‘free-range’ cows that roam the Bavarian highlands and, thanks to the altitude, are free from mosquito bites, thus improving the grain.

The M Sport Package is available on both four-cylinder variants (it’s already standard on the six-cylinder) and includes 18-inch light alloy wheels, aluminium interior trim around the vents and dials, a dark BMW Individual roofliner, sport seats, M leather steering wheel, M sport suspension and a specially designed aerodynamics package. It’s $4900 on the 20i and $2900 on the 28i.

The new Design Pure Traction package is offered across the range and adds Alcantara/leather upholstery to the seats, armrests, doors and dashboard, sport seats for driver and front passenger, interior trim finishers in ‘metal weave’ design and a dark roofliner for $2000 on the 20i and $1100 on the other two variants.

BMW has sold just 55 Z4s this year - most are 28i and 35is variants - compared to 355 Mercedes SLKs and 151 Porsche Boxsters.

BMW Z4 pricing plus on-road costs:
Z4 sDrive 20i - $79,900
Z4 sDrive 28i - $89,900
Z4 sDrive 35i - $119,545

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