All-new BMW Z4 sDrive20i driven
By Ntsako Mthethwa
BMW has recently introduced its sixth generation Z4 roadster that joins the slowly growing stable. The Munich-based automaker still values the segment of a two-seater sports car and the newest Z4 is no exception.
Built on the same platform that underpins the yet to be launched Toyota Supra, I spent some time in the mountainous roads of the Western Cape sampling the new Z4 roadster.
Available from launch are two engine options, a sDrive20i with 145 kW of power and 320 Nm of torque. The latter being the M40i boasting a 3.0-litre straight-six engine with 250 kW of power and peak torque of 500 Nm. A 0-100 km/h time is dispatched in 6.6 seconds and 4.6 seconds respectively.
Both variants come standard with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.
Speaking of dimensions, the new Z4 is 85 mm long, 74 mm wider and 13 mm taller than the predecessor, the increase in dimensions decodes to a more spacious interior.
The new Z4 looks the part and follows BMW’s design language as it features a new mesh-design BMW kidney grille, vertical headlight arrangement and LED headlights that come as standard. Adaptive LED headlights are offered at an additional charge. It still retains the long bonnet DNA, however, BMW ditched the folding hardtop from the outgoing model for an electrically operated fabric roof that opens and closes within ten seconds at speeds up to 50 km/h.
The sDrive20i rides on standard 18-inch light alloy wheels while the M40i gets 19-inch.
The interior feels upmarket with a driver-focused cockpit design, fully digital instrument cluster and control display each of which has a screen diagonal of 10.25 inches. There is storage space behind the seats for small items, cup holders under the centre armrest cover and large door pockets. Boot capacity is 281 litres whether the soft-top is open or closed – an increase of more than 50 per cent compared to the predecessor which is highly striking in this class.
I only got to drive the 20i at the launch and it did not fail to astonish. It blends in well as an everyday car, thanks to its impressive combined fuel consumption figure of 6.1l/100km.
Initially, I really undermined the Z4 sDrive20i but at 145 kW and 320 Nm, it is well balanced with enough vigour to put a smile on your face. There are three driving modes, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. On the road, the small engine does not feel underpowered even under intent acceleration prowess, yet, you need to change down a gear before passing slow moving traffic. It has a huge advantage over the M40i variant since it is 130 kg lighter, economical and possesses a simplified suspension setup. The launch drive included a drive through the Western Cape mountain passes and the Z4 handled every corner with style even when you throw it around the tautest corner, thanks to the low centre of gravity, responsive steering wheel inputs and 50:50 weight distribution. The ride is firm but not in a bad way which is always the case with convertibles because of the weight and extra bracing underneath.
If performance is on top of the list of things you look for in a roadster, the M40i is the ideal model to go for.
Safety comes courtesy of standard collision warning, pedestrian warning with city braking function and lane departure warning systems all as standard. The list of options includes active cruise control with stop and go function, distance information, the lane change warning system, rear collision prevention and the speed limit info system with no passing info display and – for the first time in a roadster – the Head-Up Display.
The Z4 sDrive20i carries a price tag of R755,900 (R779,100 with the M Sport package). The M40i is priced at R1,030,500. Both variants boast a five-year/100,000 km maintenance plan.
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