BMW essentially struck gold in the compact, two-seater market when it released the Z4 back in 2003. It featured a sporty exterior, with potent, naturally aspired engines, and could be had as a soft-top convertible or in coupe form. That first generation lasted until 2009, but before the first-gen made its exit BMW was able to introduce a Z4 M in both forms with performance credentials good enough to get the little car that could up to 60 mph in as little as 4.8 seconds if you knew how to shift it right. The second-gen came to be in 2009 and, while most of the engine choices were naturally aspirated, one was offered with turbocharged goodness. Within a couple of years, the entire drivetrain lineup went turbo, and BMW hasn’t looked back since. The second-generation model lasted from 2009 to 2016 and, ever since its discontinuance, fans and purists everywhere have begged for the third-gen model – an all-new roadster that’s due for the 2018 model year and has been caught many times testing out in public over the last two years. At the kickoff of Monterey Car Week, BMW decided to release the Concept Z4, a wild interpretation of the upcoming roadster and something that at least gives us a little hint as to where BMW is going with the third-gen model.
It has neatly sculptured exteriors with modernistic cosmetics all over. To start with the front profile, it has a radiant headlight cluster with high intensity bi-xenon headlamps and indicators. It has four LED day time running light rings for giving it a distinct appeal. In the center, it has a signature kidney bean shaped radiator grille treated with chrome. Just below this, it has a body colored bumper featuring a pair of air ducts and a wide air dam. Its air ducts have a thin chrome strip, which makes it look more classy. It is flanked by a couple of fog lamps that gives out bright light. The slanted forward bonnet has a total of four expressive lines and these compliment the iconic logo embedded on the hood. Coming to its side profile, it is extremely stylish thanks to the masculine wheel arches for giving it a distinct look. They are fitted with a set of stylish 18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels with logo embedded on it. These rims are covered with tubeless radial tyres that gives a superior grip. Its front wheel arches have an air vent with chrome strip and integrated with LED blinkers. The door handles and the ORVM caps have been treated in body color. These outside mirrors are electrically adjustable and integrated with side turn LED indicator. It also has heating as well as memory function for increasing their convenience. It has a curvy rear profile and yet it has a sporty appeal. Its small tailgate has a spoiler and LED third brake lights. It is decorated with its name lettering and insignia to emphasize its exclusiveness. Surrounding this is the aggressive taillight cluster with LED turn indicators and signature brake lighting pattern. The bumper houses a pair of round shaped exhaust pipes, which are treated in chrome. All these put together makes it one of the best in this segment.
Inside the 2016 BMW Z4 you’ll find a classy interior done up in high-quality materials, though the standard “SensaTec” vinyl upholstery strikes a discordant note in such a luxury model. If it were us, we’d definitely opt for the sun-reflective “Kansas” leather. Customization possibilities abound, including two-tone color schemes and unique trim that give the cabin a noticeably more eye-catching look. There are some practical details here too, including a handy cargo shelf behind the seats.Speaking of practicality, the Z4’s passenger compartment has an edge on many other two-seat cars by virtue of above-average legroom that gives taller drivers and passengers a chance to stretch out. Another advantage includes the rear quarter windows that go a long way toward eliminating the blind spots commonly found in traditional soft-top convertibles.Out back, the Z4 offers a decent-sized cargo hold that provides 8 cubic feet of stowage with the roof raised. With it lowered, the two roof panels take up a good bit of that space, but there’s still more room here than you’ll find on most other retractable-hardtop convertibles. An available trunk pass-through between the seats also makes it possible to transport longer items.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ;
BMW Z4 is available in India with a sole 3L TwinPower petrol engine option. The six-cylinder engine comes fitted with twin turbochargers for better throttle reflexes and minimum turbo lag. Further, the double-Vanos system alters the valve timing and injection system outputs as per desired driving mode.Engine churns out a massive 306HP of pure power at 5800 rpm and max torque of 400Nm starting at as low as 1300rpm further continuing up to 5000rpm. The power delivery is simply brilliant with almost no lag whatsoever. Power is generated linearly and neatly all the way up to the very redline. Moreover, the best bit of the 2979cc gem is the near-perfect exhaust note. A sweet whining burble at every downshifts and a mechanical crackle whenever floored down. This symphony of mechanical and electrical trickily defines the soul of Z4 as a true roadster. A seven-speed sport automatic double-clutch transmission (yeah, that long) is mated to the engine for effortless gear variation and better fuel-economy. One clutch each for even and odd gear trains shifts the cog with minimum time-lag and almost no interruption in traction. For sportier feel, paddle shifters are mounted onto the steering column. This manual form of shifting enhances the driving ecstasy in the BMW Z4 roadster. Regenerative braking system along with BMW EfficientDynamics elements builds up a very respectable amount of fuel-economy of 10.37kmpl for the Z4. However, being a rev-happy product, an average enthusiastic drive with bring the real figures to about 7.5-8kmpl.
Handling and ride quality is outstanding, especially on fast chicanes and switchback roads. Massive tyres provides tons of grip and control even at high speeds. However, the electric nanny is still the party spoiler as it restricts almost any tyre smoking and rubber shredding action. Steering is razor sharp with quick and conforming feedbacks. A great mix of comfort, agility and stability is what defines the attributes of the Z4’s chassis. Near perfect 50-50 weight distribution aids too to deliver a well-planted ride. However, the only grouse is the spooky wobbliness of cabin under high load due to the convertible platform. DSC and CBC tightens the cornering lines effectively and therefore making high-speed maneuverers a piece of cake for the Z4.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
A BMW car is always expected to be the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ and the Z4 does impress with its handling prowess. It darts into corners with eagerness, devoid of much body roll with the steering giving close to razor sharp precision but lacking a bit in feel. There is quite a lot of torque firing up the rear wheels and going a bit aggressive into a corner (with the traction controlled turned on), you can slide around this Bimmer, so it’s not really the most well behaved although it remains glued to the road in a straight line. The big grouse though is the ride quality. It’s far from cosseting as almost every irregularity on the road can be felt through. The low profile rubber makes you become extremely cautious over bad tarmac while speed-breakers can catch the Z4’s underbelly off guard. This is simply not the car you would want to drive over bad roads, because as much as it unsettles the occupant, it also tends to rattle a bit (with the roof down as the roof is lying folded in the boot). Braking performance is good, as expected from a BMW car.
The BMW Z4 hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP although the old model (first generation) was given a 4-star rating. Considering the advancement of the vehicle, we expect the current model to get a 5-star rating. The Z4 comes loaded with a lot of safety kit, including front and side airbags for the driver and co-passenger along with active safety features like ABS, CBC, DSC and DTC. The sports convertible also gets roll-over protection system, side-impact protection, three point seat belts with pyrotechnic belt tensioners and belt force limiters.
The Z4 is more of an experience than anything and cars like it don’t exist to add numbers to annual sales but wow people, enhancing the brand’s value.As a machine in solitude, the Z4 does have its drawbacks in the form of an almost unusable boot with the roof down and the lack of a softer suspension mode to soften things in the urban jungle. Anything beyond would actually be nit picking, unless making a direct comparison with its rivals, which we haven’t done yet. The BMW Z4 is a capable drop top and for almost Rs 69 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi, it’s good value too, provided hedonism is a belief you side with.