Z a big SOFT
Whether it was the intention or not, the result of the BMW Z4’s reinvention is a softer, more gentle creature, reports KEVIN HEPWORTH
2.5-litre 2 5 lit sDrive Di 23i 23i. Whil While th the exterior t i d design i h has b been softened, it would be much fairer to describe the work done under the skin as refinement.
The Z4 rides better, it is less nervous than the original and the general feel is of a car that has had far more thought put into it – from both the point of view of driver enjoyment and driver comfort.
Interior space is impressive. There is ample shoulder, leg and headroom for a pair of economysized passengers who need not spend the day looking nervously at each other as gear changes lead to unwanted hand-leg contact.
The Z4 gains a huge win in that its i-Drive control centre is the far more practical and intuitive revision unveiled in the latest generation of the top-end 7 Series limousines. With less layers of complexity and most functions signposted by a select array of buttons, the new i-Drive is not only less intimidating but it has the elegant simplicity that can only come with a couple of generations of tweaking – both by BMW and some of its rivals.
Yet, with that box ticked, it is a disappointment to find that against the trend of almost every other convertible of note, the Z4’s roof can only be raised or lowered when the car is stationary and Park engaged. The practical advantages of being able to close the roof on the move – and there are plenty of manufacturers who offer this – are manifest.
Z-force: The new BMW Z4 looks bigger, wider, and shows a real family resemblance to the more up-market 6-Series coupes. There are three six cylinder engines available, including a potent twin turbo unit.