Text by Cheryl Tay
Photos by Adrian Wong
The first and last time I drove the BMW Z4 was back in 2009, more than three years ago. I remember how I was gushing over its drive and performance, and even named it my ‘Most Memorable Car of 2009’. Initially, I was not a fan of its looks, with the long nose and short deck. But after I experienced it for myself and drove it, I couldn’t get enough of it and was instantly infatuated with it. Holding close the great memory of driving the Z4, this car is on my ‘Wanted’ list of cars if I can ever afford it.
Just to share, I have an inclination towards two-door cars (coupes and cabriolets), not only because they look great but also because it is the time of my life to drive a two-door, before I start a family and need a bigger car to ferry the kids around. Unfortunately, most of the time, two-door cars tend to cost more than the ordinary hatchback or sedan.
Excited to get back behind the wheel of the Z4 again, I got to take out the Z4 sDrive28i. Although there’s a ‘28’ in its name, the engine within it is a two-litre and not a 2.8-litre. It has been a long time since BMW has had a convertible with a small engine, but in this case, at least it is compensated with a turbocharger.
The entry-level Z4 sDrive20i has the same engine, but tuned differently, giving only 184bhp and 270Nm, while the sDrive28i delivers 245bhp from 5,000 and 6,500rpm, and a peak torque of 350Nm at 1,250-4,800rpm. The difference in the 0-100km/h time is rather significant, with the sDrive28i taking only 5.7 seconds, but the sDrive20i takes 7.2 seconds. Top of the Z4 range is the sDrive35is, a three-litre inline-6 twin-turbo that comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Driving the Z4 was as good as I remembered – smooth and involving. I thought the steering was a tad heavy, although sharp. There are three modes you can switch to – Comfort, Sport, Sport+. I left it in Sport most of the time as I found the car a bit sluggish when in Comfort mode.
Sitting close to the ground, the car’s low profile makes it look really sexy, but I can’t say the same for myself (or other ladies) when I try to get out of the car in a skirt. A more conscious effort needs to be made so that I don’t end up showing more flesh than intended!
The inside of the car has all the functions presented clearly. The infotainment 8.8-inch LCD display screen folds into the dashboard when you turn off the engine and automatically folds out when you fire the ignition. Interestingly, I found a first aid kit in the car. It’s been a long time or maybe even never, that I’ve come across a first aid kit that comes standard in the car.
Two-door vehicles are not space-generous but that’s a compromise you gladly accept if you want to drive the swanky car. The Z4 is strictly for two people only, but this one has a lot of cubby holes for you to slot your things in. There is a netted shelf behind the seats that can fit a laptop bag and side compartments on the door that fold out too.
Once again I felt the pang of reluctance when I had to return the car. Retaining its reputation of fun, but with a higher fuel efficiency now, the Z4 and its small two-litre engine makes a pretty mean package.
At A Glance
Engine: 1,997cc inline-4
Transmission: Eight-speed Steptronic sport automatic
Performance: 245bhp/5,000-6,500rpm, 350Nm/1,250-4,800rpm, 0-100km/h 5.7 secs
Top Speed: 250km/h
Price with COE: $282,800
Testdrive & Enquiries: Performance Motors Limited
Tel: 63190100 / 63190888 / 63190500
In a Nutshell
(+) Sexy looks
(-) Needs a fiercer growl
Verdict: Lives up to its reputation as a hardy roadster
*This was first published in Wheels Asia.