The E85 Z4 a car with a design subjected to a myriad of opinionated criticism. On paper possesses all the ingredients belonging to classic roadster. The long hood, charismatic engine, rear drive. Dipped doors make the Z4 look more like a modern Triumph TR4. Based upon these design old – school dimensions the Z4's styling grows on you.
Weighing in at 1,385kg it is not a feather weight for a car in its class even though aluminium bonnet and suspension components were used in its construction. Lucky the 3 litre N52 in-line six under the stretched hood tunes out 195KW and 315NM (more on the engine later) it's enough to keep the boy racer in me happy.
What's it like to drive? This depends on what sort of driving I am doing, and whether or not the sport mode is engaged. If I just want to lay the top back and take a lady or dude (healthy bromance) on a drive in the countryside, Z4 is pretty damn awesome at that. In normal mode, ride motions are well controlled, throttle response isn't hyperactive, and the smooth ZF makes it an enjoyable steer with preciously timed shifts. BMW did their homework with this convertible; even cruising on the highway with the top down, wind disturbance is acceptable, and I could easily carry on a conversation with a passenger without resorting to shouting. This is where all those luxury features come in handy: the heated seats are powerful.
When I am in this mood and I punch the sport mode, however I will only drive along for a few minutes, and then promptly turn it back off.. The throttle response goes from normal to Burnout Mode and the steering weight increases to forearm-building levels. If I am hammering down the royal national park in the Z4, you'll want to engage this mode – I spend more time making tiny steering corrections and wondering how that much bump steer can come out of normal-sized tyres than you will enjoying the smooth engine. (Damn run-flats). The 3.0 motor the highlight of the drive. Like all BMW sixes, it sounds like silk ripping as the revs climb and there aren't any of the unpleasant vibrations associated with, say, Nissan's VQ37HR motor in the 370Z. Unfortunately, there's also not the unbelievable grunt that the VQ possess either. Drive-ability issues? Of course not. It's as smooth as a bottle of $500 cognac, and I find myself holding gears longer just for the sound.
The standard fitted run-flat tyres, which have ridiculously stiff side-walls to enable to support the load of the car with no air in them which wreck the ride on basically any car so equipped. The brakes are unusually good for a single piston system. I can fell a lot of effort went into the design of the Z4 with regards chassis bracing - crawling under and around the Si reveals a plethora of braces tied in at multiple locations, and as a result I benefit from hardtop levels of rigidity with minimal rattles on 2nd grade Sydney roads
Honestly Z4 isn't really a hard-core sports car, but frankly, that's ok. Most of the joy of owning a svelte two-seat drop top like the Z4 comes from relaxing drives in the countryside, the (quite good, I must add) stereo playing my favourite album, and the sounds of that classic straight six tickling your ears, even though the interior doesn't even have storage space for my routine Saturday night Chinese takeaway.