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BMW Z4: Ethereal enchantress

With its breathtaking design, the new BMW Z4 leaves you awestruck without even letting its top down

The BMW Z4 is one of the most modern interpretations of the traditionally iconic roadster body type for automobiles. Having made its debut in the year 2002, the Z4 roadster is the mid-life facelift of the second gen avatar of the model.

BMW Z4

Design
Defined in form by a long bonnet, low beltline, extremely low seating position and stubby rear end, the Z4 reeks of sportiness and agility no matter which angle you look at it from. A long sweeping line emanating from the headlamps and ending behind the door visually pronounces the length of the car in profile. Low centre of gravity and a seating position just ahead of the rear axle delivers an unmatched drive feel to the occupants as the transverse and longitudinal G-Forces at work on the rear wheels can be experienced aplenty.

The tractable metal top halfway on its way down – you can summon the rooftop or ask it to go back even on the move at speeds up to 40 km/h. Try doing that on Mumbai streets and see how the whole world looks at you with their mouths wide open. Pics/Amit Chhangani
The tractable metal top halfway on its way down – you can summon the rooftop or ask it to go back even on the move at speeds up to 40 km/h. Try doing that on Mumbai streets and see how the whole world looks at you with their mouths wide open. Pics/Amit Chhangani

While we love the Z4 much more with its top down, the four-wheeler looks amazing with its metal roof up as well. The tin top takes just 19 seconds to cover the occupants or disappear in that short trunk, and can be put on or brought down while the car is still moving at speeds of up to 40km/h. The A-pillars of the Z4 are painted in black to provide a sense of continuity to the body colour when the roof is down; thus visually enhancing the long, streamlined shape of the car.

Engine and transmission
Powering this lithe beauty from under that long, sweeping bonnet is a 3 litre inline-6 BMW TwinPower Turbo gasoline engine dishing out 306 bhp of power at 5,800 rpm and 400 Nm of peak torque spread between an incredibly wide rev-band of 1,300-5,000 rpm. Performance from this sporty machine is top notch, with 0-100km/h dispatched in about 5 seconds while top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. Official fuel economy figure is above 10kmpl, but expect a much smaller figure if you drive this car the way it’s meant to be driven.

The 3 litre twin turbo engine embodies BMW's engineering perfection. Throttle response is strong across the entire rev-range
The 3 litre twin turbo engine embodies BMW's engineering perfection. Throttle response is strong across the entire rev-range

The engine, positioned at the front is driven via the rear wheels. Transmission duties are taken care of by the 7 speed DCT dual clutch transmission offering lightening quick shifts. You may allow the car to shift automatically, or shift manually via the paddle-shifters mounted behind the steering wheel. Manual shifts can also be accomplished using the drive selector, by slotting the lever towards left. The Z4 offers Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes to choose from. While the former two offer a varying degree of engine response, transmission shift points and steering feedback, the third option turns off the electronic nanny (traction control) to let you slide the RWD machine around bends, if you so wish.

Ride and handling
With space to seat only two and a very small trunk, the Z4 isn’t the most comfortable car you’d find to ferry yourself around. It is, however, a riot to drive and if you find yourself a smooth, twisty stretch of tar, you’d have reached pretty close to what’s termed as motoring nirvana for many.

The boot is good enough for a roadster at 310 litres with the roof up, though it shrinks down to 180 litres after swallowing the tin-top
The boot is good enough for a roadster at 310 litres with the roof up, though it shrinks down to 180 litres after swallowing the tin-top

The wide track of the car, along with the low centre of gravity offers great driving involvement. The steering wheel, which is extremely well weighted, is incredibly precise and offers feedback by the truckloads. Grip from the 225-section front, and 255-section rear Bridgestone Potenza rubber wrapped around lightweight 18-inch alloys is more than adequate. The Z4 feels amazingly light and nimble, showing terrific poise and balance even when made to slide. But it didn’t impress us as much as regards straight line poise at extreme speed. At the absolute upper extreme of its speed range, the Z4 feels slightly edgy, especially if the road surface is not immaculately laid out.

Space and equipment
There is a small platform behind the seats to put a small bag or a haversack. Behind this, you have a half-a-foot tall net spanning the width of the car to serve as a bay for small sized stuff. You also have a small compartment behind the backseat, with a shelf in the middle. The boot space is fairly good at 310 litres with the roof up. With the roof down, however, this space shrinks to 180 litres, which doesn’t allow for anything more than a small to medium sized suitcase.

The design and layout of the automatic dual zone A/C controls is a fresh departure from the familiar BMW dashboard layout
The design and layout of the automatic dual zone A/C controls is a fresh departure from the familiar BMW dashboard layout

The BMW Z4 comes loaded with modern tech. The most mentionable of the long feature list include the bi-xenon front headlamps with LED daytime running lights, headlight washers, rain sensors, automatic headlamps, shifter paddles, two-zone air-conditioning, four airbags, rollover protections system, corner brake control (CBC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) which includes Traction Control and an electronic differential lock.

Conclusion
The Z4 is a modern classic by every definition. Its first and foremost objective is to grab attention and look beautiful. It has every bit of BMW’s time-tested performance and driving awesomeness, which it fuses with the intoxicating charm of drop top motoring. Sure, it’s not the most comfortable car to get ferried in. However, if you are one of the lucky few for whom having a few exotics in their garage is the norm, the Z4 cannot be omitted from the list. It’s a beautiful, beautiful car, in every sense of the word.

Price
BMW Z4
Rs 71 lakh
*(Ex-showroom mumbai) 

Technical specs
Engine — 2979 cc, 6 cylinder, twin turbo
Transmission — 7 Speed DCT, dual clutch automatic
Peak power — 306 bhp @ 5800 rpm
Peak Torque — 400 Nm @ 1300-5000 rpm

Bells and whistles
>> Retractable hard-top
>> Bi-Xenon automatic headlamps
>> Rain sensors
>> Dynamic stability control
>> Rollover protection
>> Dual zone climate control
>> Gearshift paddles
>> Electronic differential lock

The rivals

Audi TT
The TT is available in both Coupe and Convertible forms internationally, but only as a Coupe in India. While slightly below the Z4 in terms of market positioning, the TT is still an appealing package.

Audi TT

Powered by a 2 litre TFSI petrol engine, the TT boasts 208 bhp of power and 350 Nm of torque. The 0-100 km/h timing is a little short of six seconds and top speed is rated at 243 km/h.
Price: Rs 53 lakh ex-showroom

Mercedes-Benz SLK class
Mercedes-Benz SLK class

The convertible roadster features the MAGIC SKY CONTROL technology, which allows its retractable roof to be opaque or transparent with the press of a button. The SLK Class is available with a 3.5-litre petrol or a 2.1-litre diesel engine with peak output ratings of 306 and 204 bhp respectively.
Price: Rs 75 lakh onward

Porsche Boxter
The Boxster drew its inspiration from the legendary Porsche 550 Spyder from the 1950s.

Porsche Boxter

The mid-engined car is available in India in two flavours — the basic Boxster powered by a 2.7 litres flat six engine, and a more powerful Boxster S variant propelled by a bigger 3.4 litre engine. Power output is rated at 265 and 315 bhp respectively.
Price: Rs 78 to Rs 92 lakh ex-showroom

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