BMW's sporty offerings have lost their luster in recent years. We have three months to find out if the new Z4 can turn this trend around.
Why us: The sporting appeal of the BMW Roadster has waned over generations. We want to know if he returned.
Month 1 - Specifications
Life with BMW Z4 for rent: 1 month
Goodwood ride highlights Z4 strengths - August 14, 2019
I managed to snatch the Z4 keys for a (mostly) sunny weekend last month at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. I thought that if I was going to be stuck in the usual festival morning traffic jams, I'd rather be doing it from the roof down and have limitless amounts of vitamin D flowing through me.
As it turned out, I managed to dodge worse snarl windows so I was able to enjoy the twistier route down and then back from the events in West Sussex. In theory this should have been a talk where I roared into the latest Z4 to rent out the newfound lightness and agility, its rear wheel drive balance and its sports car qualities that make the mechanically similar Toyota Supra such a riot.
Instead, I found myself more satisfied with the sophistication and comfort it offers. Whether that's good for discussion, but to me it's standout in the Z4's quality.
Much of the route from West Berkshire to Goodwood is fast dual carriageway. But the Z4's design (along with a windshield as part of the Comfort Plus package) seems to deflect wind from the windows, meaning you no longer have to pretend to enjoy long rooftops down motorway travel that seems like a good idea at first.
Listening to music at these speeds is no problem either, thanks to Harman Kardon Audio. The American firm tells us that the main focus of the system setup is how it works from the roof down and its ability to stay clear and crisp even at high volumes reflects this.
Equally impressive is the Serenity roof. It's not a Rolls-Royce, but it insulates you from passing trucks and the hustle and bustle of the city pretty effectively for a roadster. The downside to this is that the rattle seems to have appeared in the door or the bottom of the roof mechanism and the lack of road ding exacerbates it somewhat.
It's unfortunate because the rest or Z4s seem to be built to last. The interior is a bit more minimalistic and driver-focused than the company's larger models, but no less soft, comfortable and tech-laden. My 6ft 2in frame is often too big for some 5 seater roadsters. But there are broad heads and, in particular, legroom for me to stretch out and, unlike the Mazda MX-3, fit in behind whatever A3 and MXNUMX could throw at me. A couple of large bags will sit with room for spares in the trunk too.
A weekend behind the wheel also discovered the four-cylinder being our version of the sDrive 30 and engine. A detuned version of the device found in the new BMW M135i, it still seems to provide the perfect compromise between performance, real efficiency and cost. More hurried to get to Goodwood after seeing the mpg in the mid-30s, but it was coaxed up and over 40 on a quieter, roof-down cruise back.
I mourn the loss of the more common six-pot engine options as never before, but in a car as nimble as the Z4 out, the lighter front end is welcome – and the four-pot isn't too bad when extended. A comparison between this and the full fat M40i model will still be welcome, though, to see if its engine character wins.
cruising comfort superb wind deflection means high speeds from the roof down are still comfortable and the interior is roomy and the seats are well shaped.
I hate him:
rattling door the grinding sound at the door had already been noticed by some, but not by all, who passed it. We suspect this is a quirk of early car production.
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App looks familiar… – July 24, 2019
BMW's entertainment system in the Z4 doesn't work with Apple CarPlay and instead requires you to download a dedicated app. When I connected my iPhone recently, it offered to search the app store for me, but came up with two suggestions: a BMW app and one for a Toyota Supra. This reminder cars share more than just mechanical parts…
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An open-top sports car has joined our fleet just in time for summer. First Stop, Rainy Wales - July 17, 2019
In imagination, any image of the same carefree coastal cruising in a stylish two-seater convertible is in stark contrast to the reality I encountered just picking up the keys to our new long-termer: winding lines barely moving during rush hour on a busy Friday night, mixed with flashing structures above the road, warning of accidents and road closures on the M4 ahead. It wasn't part of the plan...
Said plan was conceived by editor Mark Tisshaw after securing a BMW Z4 for rent for our long term fleet for the summer. Usually, when we have a two-seater sports car in our fleet, its lucky custodian spends most of his working week accepting applications and requests from colleagues to borrow it for the weekend. So Tisshaw offered to carve up the weekend in the Z4 to be with us in the team car. To purchase a car for a certain weekend, you just need to do something really interesting.
Having driven a prototype of the fourth generation Z4 for rent in France last year, I was itching to see how the finished version compared, so wanted the bag it had for the first weekend. What happened to the Swansea half marathon date, in my grandmother's hometown, so I suggested taking the Z4 to South Wales, via my hometown on the Somerset coast. It was a chance to try the Z4 for hire on motorways and scenic Welsh roads, with a bit of summer coastal cruising mixed in. The only catch was having to work 13.1 miles while in Wales - but that was a problem for later because I was now in line for a BMW Z4.
When our testers got their hands on the Z4, they thought it was made for a stylish and comfortable cruiser, although not exactly driving a car you'd expect from a BMW sports car. While it's a bit of a shame to hear, it seemed like the Z4's refined practicality for rent could perform better over a long, long-term test. Therefore, we decided on the specs sDrive 30 and M Sport that perhaps best illustrates this use, with its 255bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine.
The £41,450 base price of our car includes an M Sport body kit, wheels and seats, black leather upholstery and a pretty stylish San Francisco red paint job. On top were added a £1800 tech unit (which includes parking assist, a head-up display and a Harman Kardon audio system), a £1700 Comfort Plus package (including a heated steering wheel, fog lights and power seats) and, perhaps most importantly, a £1950 m Sport Plus package (adds 19-inch alloys, M sport differential and adaptive sport suspension). Add in registration fees, and on the road the cost of our Z4 rentals will rise to $46,900. Pretty much for a two-seater, that.
Mind you, it certainly looks the part (several cars I've driven lately have attracted so many admiring comments) and also you get a lot more than before: that's substantially more cars than previous generations of Z4s, like a chance encounter with one in a Swansea parking lot. showed. The extra size is especially useful when loading weekends worth of stuff in the trunk, which rivals a hatch family in size.
The cabin is also spacious and comfortable to spend time, reclining in the pampering leather M sporty driver's seat. Which is exactly the same, because it wasn't so long ago, after moving in and heading towards Somerset, that things started to go a little wrong.
News from the aforementioned M4 closures came just as I was trudging off the A329(m) near Bracknell (or Barcknell, according to BMW satnav…). Progress quickly stopped. Luckily, the roads won't be closed for long, but the resulting emergency traffic meant about an hour later the trucks stop/start to crawl along with the idling trucks. To keep them exhausted, I kept the roof closed, and once up to speed, it was impressive how quiet the cabin was. Bliss soft top was extremely impressive.
And Friday night was a big hit, a few family trips to Somerset on Saturday morning provided the chance to try the Z4 with nature: on country roads from the top down. He confirmed it was a car made for cruising, not pushing to the limit: if only because this Trial Sport Plus drive mode proved it to be on the hard side for British roads, even blasting down the M5's smooth stretch. More noticeable was how calm things stayed in the cabin from the roof down at speed.
And so on to Wales. Well, in the end. The Highway Agency has taken the decision to close the Severn Bridge for maintenance, as well as closing the M49 access road to the second Severn crossing. June is a weekend with lots of holiday traffic heading south, the inevitable result was more traffic jams.
Still, in the end, bridges were crossed, highways were crossed, and Wales was reached. And it was worth it: the little rides in Swansea Bay were pleasant, both in the Z4, then from top to bottom on a sunny day. Certainly it was more enjoyable (and less sweaty) than running down the same road on a Sunday morning during a half marathon, not least because the Sun was replaced by a gray cloud and an invigorating headwind.
And, in Wales and all, the rain - and plenty - is just in time for the motorway to drive home. A heavy downpour put an end to my plan to really test the Z4's roof-down refinement, crossing the second Severn topless (so to speak), but it presents another talent: in appalling conditions, a soft-top, completely unsuited for, the Z4 remained extremely comfortable and secured. As an added bonus, even with my sore leg, the Z4 remains comfortable for another longer than expected trip.
First impressions, then, are that the new Z4 is a two-seater that requires less compromise than a lot of living – even when traffic, road and weather conspire against it.
We have many more weekends with Z4 for rent. I hope my colleagues will have more luck and you will try it in the conditions for which it is really intended. And, if they don't, I'm already thinking about getting my name at the top of the list. Does anyone know of any good half marathon in the south of France?
I have vivid memories of the original or Z4 3.0 I my father owned a handful of summers. The inline-six's fantastic noise resulted in more than a few top-down drives in less-than-ideal conditions – something I don't see the four-pot new Z4 does. With an open top, the BMW should sound as good as it looks - perhaps the exhaust tuning and in-cabin sound boost will be enough to keep our team defying the elements.
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Specification Models Z4 sDrive30i Sport m
Specifications: Price new £41,450 price as checked £46,900 Features Technology package £1800, Comfort Plus package £1700, M sport package £1950
Test data: engine 4-cyls, 1998cc, turbocharged petrol Power 254bhp torque 295lb feet Curb weight 1430kg Transmission 8-SPD automatic maximum speed 155 mph 0-62 mph 5.2 sec Fuel consumption 46 mpg SO2 139 g/km. malfunctions no costs no