2010 Z4 New Car Test Drive
The current BMW Z4, introduced for the 2009 model year, is the second generation of the Z4 name and is as much a completely new car from its predecessor as it is reasonably possible to be. It continues into 2010 with essentially no changes.
The Z4 sports a retractable hardtop, a departure from any previous two-seat BMW. The retractable hardtop replaces the roadster and coupe versions of previous-generation (pre-2009) Z4 models with one car. The hardtop retracts for the same open-air driving of a convertible, but closes with the press of a button to provide the advantages of better security, rigidity, rearward visibility, interior quiet and the weather control of a coupe.
The Z4 offers the driving character you expect from BMW and it will be familiar to any fan of the brand. As with other cars getting bigger and laden with more luxury and features, the higher-optioned Z4s tend to feel more like grand touring machines than sports cars. In terms of a pure sports car, we liked the base Z4 sDrive30i with the optional Sport Package. The performance and feel of balanced precision is there in every Z4. The higher-performance Z4 sDrive35i with the dual-clutch gearbox gets close to the previous M Roadster as a track-day tool.
While some will choose a Z4 based solely on the badge and others solely on style, over time they will learn the real reasons, both objective and emotional, behind the car and why they want to keep it. Others will appreciate the performance and technology without regard to style, and yet others will shop merely because they've been waiting for a folding hardtop roadster from Munich.
BMW accurately points out that the Z4 sDrive35i is about the same size and offers performance close to the earlier Z8, and it does so for about half the price. The Z4 is also far more practical.
For 2010 the Z4 is offered in two models, the sDrive30i and sDrive35i. In current BMW nomenclature, sDrive refers to rear-wheel drive. However, there are no xDrive (all-wheel-drive) Z4s and no M model has been announced. Yet.
Due later in the spring of 2010, as a 2011 model, is the Z4 sDrive35is, which will deliver even more performance than the already-quick sDrive35i. It will also have enhanced aerodynamic and handling features, unique wheels, distinctive exterior appearance trim and details, and interior comfort and feature upgrades.
The 2010 BMW Z4 sDrive30i ($46,000) comes with a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine of 255 horsepower at 6600 rpm, 220 pound-feet of torque at 2600 rpm and a six-speed manual transmission; a six-speed sport automatic with shift paddles is optional ($1,375). It's delivered with faux leather leatherette upholstery, manual climate control, power retractable hardtop, heated power mirrors and rear window, six-way manual bucket seats, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, power windows and locks, trip computer and adaptive bi-Xenon headlamps. Options include brushed aluminum or ash wood trim ($500) and the Kansas leather upholstery ($1,250) from the sDrive35i.
The Z4 sDrive35i ($51,900) has a 3.0-liter inline-6 that delivers 300 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 300 pound-feet of torque from 1400 to 5000 rpm; it is a different engine than the 30i and employs twin turbochargers. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard and a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual optional ($1,575). Other mechanical upgrades include larger brakes and wider rear tires and wheels. Cabin upgrades include standard leather upholstery, brushed aluminum trim or ash wood, and automatic dual-zone climate control. Kansas leather upholstery on the dash, visors, and door sills ($1,350) is optional, along with a 19-inch wheel upgrade to the Sport package ($1,200).
Options for the sDrive30i and sDrive35i include navigation ($2,100); Comfort Access ($500); Park Distance Control ($750); satellite radio ($350); smartphone integration ($150); anti-theft alarm ($400); and metallic paint ($550). The Cold Weather Package ($1,000) includes heated steering wheel and seats, storage pack, through-loading system, and headlight washers. The Premium Package includes auto-dimming mirrors, gate opener, power seats with lumbar and driver memory, ambient light package, BMW assist, and leather on the 30i. Premium Sound ($2,000) adds a six-disc DVD changer, hi-fi sound system, and iPod/USB adapter. The Sport Package adds 18-inch alloy wheels and run-flat performance tires, Adaptive M suspension, and sport seats; 19-inch wheels are also available. Exclusive Ivory white Nappa leather is available, along with anthracite wood trim.
The sDrive35is features an engine with increased intake air flow and increased boost pressure to deliver even more power. Its maximum output is 335 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 332 pound-feet of torque from 1500 to 4500 rpm. In addition, its engine management system includes an electronically-controlled overboost function which allows briefly increasing torque by another 37 pound-feet, for a temporary peak of 369 pound-feet and a significant increase in acceleration. While the sDrive35i will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, the sDrive35is will do it in 4.7 seconds.
The sDrive35is has the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission as standard equipment, with the programming tailored to complement the nature of the car and engine. The sDrive35is also features some M Sport upgrades, including M Aerodynamics and adaptive M Suspension, which combines a ride-height reduction of 10 millimeters with electronically-controlled shock absorbers to improve handling without compromising comfort. It also has special five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, with 19-inch wheels optionally available. Finally, it features aluminum trim bars in the outer air intakes, a rear bumper with accentuated surrounds on the tailpipes, and a rear diffuser finished on top in body color and below in a black textured surface.
Safety features for the Z4 include frontal airbags, head/thorax side airbags in the seats, active knee protection, roll hoops, electronic stability, traction and braking controls, and tire-pressure monitoring. The only option that might be considered safety related is the Park Distance Control.