Nearly New Germans Comparo: Second Place: BMW Z4M Roadster

Posted on 14. Sep, 2009 by in Auto News

Once upon a time, in the freewheeling era where Mr Bertel Schmitt was busy setting rogue helicopter pilots and cause untold havoc in the European automotive advertising industry, the major players in the German market, everyone knew how stick to their knitting. Mercedes-Benz built cars for taxi drivers honest and decent people. BMW offered a limited number of square-and-sporty sedan, built Audi avant-garde streamliners for the train-garde set. Porsche now held an unspoken but very real franchise as the only band of the German sports car producer.

This cozy arrangement has led to all sorts of cooperation between Porsche and its bigger brothers. In the United States, Porsche announced a marketing channel with Audi. It gathered the Mercedes-Benz 500E and Audi RS2. BMW insofar as the original body stampings for the first generation Boxster, while giving Mercedes allegedly continued base castings for water-cooled Porsche sixes.

In the early nineties, but were both BMW and Mercedes decided to break the gentleman's agreement and. A shot at the relatively small sports car market The resulting products, badged "Z3" and "SLK" were, quite frankly, just this side of miserable. Both were parts bin specials with difficult conditions, and was not even on the verge of 2.5 a game for the sublime 1997 Boxster.

Today, in 2009, it is well understood that BMW and Mercedes do not compete successfully against the Boxster and Cayman. The new generation Z4 is a solid, heavy apparatus that resembles a Lexus SC 430 in concept and execution, during the current SLK has been revised half-hearted and stuffed full of automatic transmissions. But it was a brief, shining moment when BMW took a full strength swing in the Boxster S. The Z4 M, which combines the iconic roadster body with BMW S54 inline six-cylinder and the M division's best attempts suspension tuning, was the moment.

Earlier this year, I again found myself with the people at Power Rentals, the operation of their perfectly groomed red Z4M against her as immaculate Porsche Cayman S. Although I am a bigot, a multiple-owner of Porsche Weissach and unreasonable, I have always found the M variants the Z4 to be uniquely compelling. The now discontinued, high-revving BMW six is full of character and muscular in exactly the way that water-cooled Porsche sixes not. The droptop Bimmer platform should also be the perfect antidote for my growing desperation with the E46 M3, "On German Trans" their vibe, and the army of the spiked-hair unbuttoned shirt, douchebags that make owners' association, the majority of the M3.

The Z4 is a bit of an experience, even if silently. The bonnet is cartoonishly long, while the interior is cramped criminally. It is not a small car, especially compared to a Cayman, but BMW has only managed to provide two very narrow compartments for driver and passenger. There is a self-conscious artistry on the instrument panel assembly and the magnificent simplicity of control. It is a strange mixture of vintage seating and post-modern aesthetics, but the message is clear: this is not a normal 3-Series Convertible. It is a "sports car" in the classical sense.

The 340-hp "P54" six-cylinder occasionally feels a little inferior to the standard M3, especially below 5,000 rpm, but this slightly lighter roadster, the engine is absolutely shines. It is strong on all of the dial and the shifter is notchy but positive. A series of descending, high-speed sweepers, I am alternately punching the brake and gas in extremely unsympathetic, two-footed fashion. As with most Bavarian Engine Works products are the sliding caliper stopper under par, a tradition which has up to the current V-8-powered M3 continued.

The Z4 seat position is reminiscent of nothing so much as a Lotus Seven. How to Seven, which is understood to be a little mental adjustment needed, such as sitting almost over the rear axle affects the perception of the handling. Understeer seems excessive, and the car behind seems unusually sensitive to throttle position. For this reason it is not particularly confidence inspiring car at high speed.

The auto media as a whole has shown that the Z4M is slower than an E46 M3 around a road course, I'm not sure I'm willing to buy that. Certainly the big coupe is easier to drive, but the Z4M weighs less, has the same rubber under the chassis and has approximately the same suspension design. It should be faster than an M3 in experienced hands.

The Bimmer performance report card has a few black spots on it, however. The steering too many hidden messages of the street suggests to keep the suspension both rear wheels to place on the road in quick transitions and the 50-thousand-dollar-plus MSRP should it really. Better set of calipers on all four wheels BMW began with an all-star cast of components here: a legendary engine, a modern chassis, unique style. But the result is, unfortunately, less than the sum of its parts. As such, it must necessarily result in a car that suggests so much more than its data, to lose. To check to succeed.