2007 BMW Z4

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Review: 2007 BMW Z4

By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 9

Bottom Line:

Fairly new stylish coupe enhances the Z4 line.
Pros:
  • Striking styling
  • Fast
  • Superb handling and braking
Cons:
  • Touchy brake pedal
  • Choppy ride
  • Limited rear visibility with coupe

Most buyers of the dramatically styled BMW Z4 opt for the convertible version, but the fairly new Z4 hatchback coupe is aimed at more serious sports car buyers.

The coupe looks better than the mechanically similar convertible with its reworked back end and sloping, shapely roof. The fixed metal roof provides more rigidity than the soft-top, which translates to a stiffer structure and better general feel— although the Z4 convertible is rigidly built.

Sports Car Nostalgia
The Z4 coupe is somehow reminiscent of elemental, fun-to-drive 1960s British MG, Triumph and Austin-Healey sports cars. It also has the flowing, tapered lines that made sports cars such as the 1960s Jaguar E-Type (commonly called the XKE in America) so alluring.

The Z4 convertible got freshened styling for 2006 and the 184-horsepower 2.5i trim level was dropped, leaving engines with 215, 255 and 330 horsepower. The same ones are offered for 2007. BMW is known for its superb V8s, but is historically better known for its smooth, potent inline (not V-shaped) "sixes."

Various Horsepower Ratings
The Z4 convertible has the 215- or 255-horsepower inline 6-cylinder with the 3.0i designation, but also comes as the 330-horsepower inline six with the "M" trim level. Convertible prices range from $36,400 to $52,100. A power top is standard for the M, optional otherwise.

The coupe comes with the 255 horsepower six with the 3.0si designation—and also in M form with the 330-horsepower six. Coupe prices range from $40,400 to $50,100.

All the 2007 front-engine Z4s only have small changes, such as standard auxiliary audio input and a tire-pressure monitor.

Late Arrival
The coupe arrived later in 2006. Sharing most components, the Z4 convertible and coupe drive much alike, although the coupe is quieter and has a more sensual feel.

We're concentrating on the Z4 coupe. It's a direct rival to Porsche's fairly new mid-engine Cayman coupe, which, in turn, is derived from that automaker's Boxster convertible.

A driver sits far back and low in the cocoon-like Z4 coupe's interior, peering down a long hood that covers the 6-cylinder engine. But small outside mirrors must be used a lot because the roofline causes rear blind spots.

The stylish, small inside rearview mirror and small back window only show what is directly behind the Z4 coupe. Most drivers will not have difficulty reading a following car's license plate, but may have a hard time seeing if that driver is chatting on a cell phone.

Many Z4 coupe buyers may be tempted to pocket the $9,700 extra cost of the M version, which also is saddled with a $1,000 gas-guzzler tax. After all, the standard Z4 3.0si coupe is plenty quick (0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds) and is more comfortable than the harder-edged M coupe I drove last year with its stiffer suspension and wider tires.

Handy Automatic
A $1,275 6-speed automatic transmission that can be manually shifted with steering-wheel paddles is available for the standard convertible and coupe, but not the M. I would have preferred the standard 6-speed manual gearbox in my test Z4 3.0si coupe, but the responsive automatic makes the car easier to drive in congested traffic.

Estimated fuel economy with the 255-horsepower engine is 20 mpg in the city and 30 on highways with the manual and 21 and 30 with the automatic. The ferocious M delivers 16 city, 24 highway for both coupe and convertible. The 215-horsepower convertible provides an estimated 20 and 29 with the manual and 21 and 30 with the automatic.

Well Equipped
All Z4s are well-equipped, with such items as air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player and power heated mirror, windows and door locks with remote entry.

Safety items include side and knee airbags and stability and traction control systems. Run-flat performance tires are standard.

The Cayman and higher-horsepower Cayman S cost more than the Z4 coupe. However, my test Z4 coupe had options that hiked its price to $49,625.

Besides the automatic transmission, extras included a $2,150 Premium Package with power seats, $1,300 Sport Package with a sport suspension, $1,800 navigation system, $1,700 extended leather upholstery, $500 heated seats and $500 M sport seats.

Watch the Steering
The Z4 coupe's steering is so quick off the on-center position that drivers who let attention wander may quickly find that the car has partially moved into the next lane.

The 50/50 weight distribution enhances the Z4 coupe's excellent handling, and anti-lock brakes stop it quickly. The brake pedal is touchy on initial application, but allows easy brake modulation for smooth stops.

The standard Z4 coupe's suspension is firm and lets you feel some bumps, although it isn't harsh. However, the ride becomes choppy on rough streets and some freeways, partly because of the short 98.3-inch wheelbase, shared with the Z4 convertible.

While the coupe's cockpit is snug, there is decent room for two tall occupants. It's one of those low-slung "drop-in/climb-out" sports cars that call for extra effort to get in or out. The optional M-style sport seats provide excellent support, but impede entry. So do the long doors when the car is in tight spots.

Drawbacks
Drawbacks include tiny sun visors, hard-to-reach seat belts and sparse interior storage space. But gauges can be quickly read, and the transmission shifter and dashboard controls are within easy reach. Small sound system controls are set high above the fairly large climate controls.

The Z4 hatchback design allows good cargo room for a small sports car, although the cargo opening is rather high.

The Z4 coupe and convertible are mostly outstanding, although the coupe seems like more of a sports car despite its solid top.

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BB02 - 4/23/2014 12:58:59 PM