BMW’S new Z car

Gloucestershire Echo - - TEST DRIVE - By CHRIS RUSSON Driv­ing Force

BMW has a new Z car and as road­sters go it is the most dy­namic to come from the Bavar­ian car maker’s sta­ble. How­ever, the third gen­er­a­tion Z4 is ac­tu­ally built in Graz in neigh­bour­ing Aus­tria where it is pro­duced along­side its sis­ter ship from Toy­ota, the new Supra.

But while the Toy­ota is a sports car with a roof, BMW has gone for a can­vas hood for the new Z4 to re­place the fold­away metal one used on the pre­vi­ous model.

Open­ing and clos­ing in a mat­ter of 10 sec­onds it sets a new stan­dard on mid-sized road­sters and is one of a num­ber of fea­tures that set the Z4 apart. Oth­ers in­clude a new look cock­pit with a 10-inch in­stru­ment panel, BMW’S con­nec­tiv­ity sys­tems and on the M Sport model we tried there are even spe­cial seat­belts with red and blue stripes in the web­bing.

The lat­est Z4 is sig­nif­i­cantly wider than be­fore – al­most BMW 5 Se­ries in that pro­por­tion – but the wheel­base is shorter and that en­hances the feel­ing of sit­ting in the mid­dle of the car rather than to­wards the back.

Power on the rear wheel dive sdrive 30i Z4 we sam­pled comes from a 2.0-litre four cylin­der petrol en­gine boosted to de­liver 258bhp.

That’s a very re­spectable power out­put and puts the Z4 up against the likes of the Mercedes CLS, Audi TT and the Porsche Boxster.

Ac­cel­er­a­tion is a brisk 5.4 sec­onds 0 to 60 with top speed at 155mph – more than a sec­ond quicker than the en­try level Z4 which has 197bhp on tap and can be had from £36,995.

The Z4 30i in M Sport trim costs from £42,445 and with ex­tras in­clud­ing a head up dis­play, steer­ing wheel heat­ing and adap­tive sus­pen­sion the car we tried came in at £47,685 – not far off the £49,055 it costs to get a range top­ping six-cylin­der en­gined M model.

For UK mo­tor­ing the 30i fits the bill per­fectly and with a num­ber of drive modes plus pad­dle shifters for the eight-speed auto box the new Z4

has plenty to go at.

In sport mode with ex­tra throt­tle re­sponse, stiffer sus­pen­sion and more noise from the ex­haust it thrills while at the other end of the scale an eco mode pro­vides a de­gree of cost saving to open top per­for­mance.

We saw an av­er­age of 29.5mpg over a route of mixed driv­ing con­di­tions although of­fi­cially the 30i is rated at 46.3mpg with emis­sions – un­der the NEDC econ­omy sys­tem in use un­til next April – are 139g/km.

But it is the feel of the new Z4 which is a stand­out fea­ture and the car is rock solid when go­ing through its paces. Roof down and the cabin is re­mark­ably wind proof.

Lug­gage space in­cludes some room be­hind the seats and boot ca­pac­ity has been in­creased from its pre­de­ces­sor up to 281 litres.

The elec­tron­i­cally op­er­ated hood stores au­to­mat­i­cally in front of the boot and does not im­pinge on lug­gage space.

As with the other Ger­man road­sters, the Z4 is a class act but its looks give it a spe­cial per­sona which is sure to im­press.

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