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      03-20-2009, 01:02 AM   #1
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Exclamation 2009 BMW Z4 sDrive35i Roadster - Insideline First Drive

A Star Is Born, Again



By Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor
Date posted: 03-19-2009

Quote:
First Impressions:
Classic, premium beauty, runs like a spooked racehorse, price is more than justified.
Cute weekend cars with sporting intentions and overwrought designs. That's been the reputation of BMW's small, slightly pricey Z3 and Z4 roadsters until now.

Unless you were a subscriber to BMW for Life magazine, there was no compelling reason to choose the Z roadster over one of its equally competent competitors.

For 2009, the BMW Z4 finally becomes a serious roadster. More than just a face-lift, some new options and a little bump in power, this Z4 gets a whole new identity. And cute is no longer part of it.

Retro Futurist
Unveiled at this year's Detroit show, the 2009 BMW Z4 sDrive35i looks stunning "in the metal." Slightly longer (5.8 inches), wider (0.4 inch) and lower (0.3 inch), the Z4 now looks a class up from traditional playmates like the Audi TT, Mazda Miata and Mercedes-Benz SLK.

It comes across as a more expensive car than it is. Think modern BMW 507 from the '50s, but add BMW's latest 3.0-liter sixes, an optional seven-speed double-clutch automated manual transmission and a healthy dose of up-to-the minute tech.

And don't forget the new, impossibly compact folding hardtop, an all-aluminum engineering masterpiece that allows this Z4 to take the place of the previous Z4 coupe and roadster.

When and How Much?
On sale May 8, there will be two versions available: A base Z4 sDrive30i ($46,575 including destination fee) effectively will take the place of the current lineup's top-shelf Z4 3.0si ($43,525). A second model, the sDrive35i ($52,475), is a new animal altogether that's more comparable to the outgoing Z4 M ($53,225) in terms of price, engine output and handling capability.

Both models will be offered with a standard six-speed manual transmission, but the sDrive30i gets a 3.0-liter 255-horsepower inline-6, while the sDrive35i, which we drove, is powered by the company's matchless twin-turbo 3.0-liter 300-hp inline-6.

Pricey Options
Our 2009 BMW Z4 test car also featured BMW's latest 80GB hard-drive navigation/audio system with the "new" iDrive first seen on the 2009 750i. We also enjoyed the comprehensive Sport package that goes beyond a mere tire upgrade with adjustable/adaptive suspension plus bespoke electronic throttle and steering maps.

The optional seven-speed automated manual M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic borrowed (slightly modified) from the BMW M3 will be available only on the sDrive35i and was also on our test car along with 10-spoke 19-inch wheels and Ivory White leather. Option prices have yet to be announced, but we estimate our car's total price probably topped $60,000.

Is It Worth It?
While that amount of money would've seemed ridiculous for a 2008 Z4, it somehow seems less objectionable for this recently matriculated Z4 sDrive35i. The engine alone is worth the extra cash, as it grabs your attention the first time you probe its upper ranges. The exhaust note gets angrier and the 7,000-rpm redline arrives suddenly and almost effortlessly, at which point you discover how quickly and seamlessly the seven-speed automated manual shifts gears.

The double-clutcher is well tuned to behave in a variety of situations. There's enough parking-lot creep with the brakes regulating progress, enough gentle clutch engagement for part-throttle getaways, and flinch-quick shifts for hasty ones.

In fact, when you're really putting the spurs to it, there's an audible exhaust burp accompanying each constant-momentum upshift. Shifts can be automatic, or manually selected with the steering wheel paddles or shift lever.

With a similar wheelbase (0.1 inch longer) and nearly unchanged strut suspension setup compared to the previous model, the Z4's handling remains relatively neutral unless you give it big stabs of throttle.

The Other Important Numbers

With a 3,494-pound curb weight, it's no lightweight, but BMW claims the sDrive35i with the seven-speed auto-shifter will sprint from zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds flat (5.1 seconds with the manual transmission). We're confident those figures are a little conservative, but they still line up favorably (exactly, in fact) with the last Z4 M Roadster we tested as well as running just a tenth behind the V8-powered Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG.

More than just quick off the line, the 2009 BMW Z4 sDrive35i is sneaky fast, too. With 300 pound-feet of torque at a mere 1,400 rpm and 300 peak hp at 5,800 rpm, the transmission rips up and down the gears so fast that you quickly find yourself on the illegal side of the speedometer without exertion or notice.

Though we weren't able to drive one, the company says the sDrive30i will require between 5.6 and 6.0 seconds to reach 60 mph, depending on transmission choice.

A Quality Cabin
The interior is also a huge leap forward. As with the exterior, the soft and hard shapes and exquisite surfaces coalesce to provide a truly premium environment. Our Ivory White leather-equipped example with glossy black dash was a particularly dramatic combination.

There's also a new bulkhead pass-through available to allow two sets of skis to be carried with a driver and passenger. With the top up, there are 10.9 cubic feet (DIN) of cargo volume and 6.4 cubes when the top is lowered.

The addition of an electronic emergency brake freed up room in the cabin for a genuine armrest compartment and even a small parcel shelf behind the seats.

There are also a host of infotainment options and packages including a hard drive audio server/navigation system with flash-memory-stick input for both audio and route guidance. At your home computer, first plot your route with POIs, fuel stops, etc., save it to a memory stick and then transfer it to the car. Very cool.

Expectations
At this point, saying that we were pleasantly surprised by the all-new 2009 BMW Z4 sDrive35i during our drive on Spain's Costa Blanca would be like saying we were shocked our luggage got lost on the return trip through Madrid.

BMW never fails to raise its own self-set bar, and Iberia Air never fails to lower its. If we had to write a national motto for Spain, it would be, "España! It's our first day on the job, so give us a break." If we had to write one for the BMW Z4 sDrive35i, it would be, "Z4 sDrive35i! Never mind the alphabet soup and cute reputation. This roadster is for real."






























Source: Edmunds Insideline
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      03-20-2009, 02:13 AM   #2
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Great review, but pretty pricey. I suppose it's still worth the money though.
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      03-20-2009, 02:45 AM   #3
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Definitely going to be a great boulevard cruiser... a sort of "baby" 6er.

Too bad it's overpriced and a bit piggish.
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      03-20-2009, 02:52 AM   #4
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For that money I would buy the upcoming 2010 Boxster S.... 60k is ridiculous for a z4...
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      03-20-2009, 07:52 AM   #5
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I'm starting to think I will never be able to buy a new BMW that I'd like.

$60K?!?!?!?!?!

I paid that much for my M5 when it was less than 2 years old. What is the world coming to?

2+ year old used cars FTW
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      03-20-2009, 09:16 AM   #6
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i think the price is way to high for a large marketshare. think about it, BMW in essence removed their entry-level Z4, and left us with either the old 3.0si or the Z4M, neither of which move very much.

the car may be good, but that wasn't a good decision IMHO.
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      03-20-2009, 09:26 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NTI V10 View Post
I'm starting to think I will never be able to buy a new BMW that I'd like.

$60K?!?!?!?!?!

I paid that much for my M5 when it was less than 2 years old. What is the world coming to?

2+ year old used cars FTW
For Real!!!!!!! WTF 60K, are they crazy!!!! It is an awesome and beautiful car, but 60k is just way too much.
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      03-20-2009, 09:32 AM   #8
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AutoTrader.com currently has a space grey E92 M3 for $52,800. It's a 2008, but still, it would be really hard to justify another $8k for a new Z4. And at $60k that's too close to a brand new 2009 E92 M3, tech pkg, paint + leather + ipod, i.e. a perfectly reasonably specced E92 M3.

It's seriously good looking though and I'm still tempted.
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      03-20-2009, 10:22 AM   #9
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IM trying to decided between a z4 sdrive35 and a Cayman. I have a 135i and know how the N54 performs like. I am worried that it doesnt have the kind of instant NA-like response one would want in a sports car like the Z4.
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      03-20-2009, 10:56 AM   #10
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thats a gorgeous interior


beats my M coupe
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      03-20-2009, 10:57 AM   #11
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Awesome review. Nice find. The new Z4 is drop dead gorgeous!
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You sound like my buddies who have AMG's - Slam the gas, slam the brakes...
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      03-20-2009, 12:08 PM   #12
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Auuuhhhhhmmm did they say electronic hand brake.....hate those things...are they gonna make just a hard top version aswell???
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      03-20-2009, 12:14 PM   #13
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no, from the article, is looks like there's only going to be a hard-top convertible. no soft top, and no coupe.
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      03-20-2009, 12:44 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slikpak View Post
Auuuhhhhhmmm did they say electronic hand brake.....hate those things...are they gonna make just a hard top version aswell???
No offense, but this has been discussed multiple times. There's nothing wrong with an electronic e-brake. Not in a high-powered, lightweight RWD car at least. If you're thinking what I'm thinking.
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      03-20-2009, 12:46 PM   #15
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So who else thinks the Z2 is more than likely to make it to production now that BMW no longer has a "relatively" affordable, small, lightweight roadster in their line?

I do.
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      03-20-2009, 12:47 PM   #16
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Why so much hate for the Z4? How can we call it overpriced if most of us havent been in a production model, or even driven it. BMW is upping the car in the segment. They do have a bad habit of drasitically increasing the price of all series. You can buy a BMW today, and not be able to afford the newer version of it later.

The Z2 will reign supreme soon for the normal man.
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      03-20-2009, 02:07 PM   #17
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here's the thing: the Z2 is at least two model years off. BMW has effectively made the Z4 unaffordable for a large portion of the Z4's population WITHOUT a suitable replacement vehicle (unless you count the 1-series as a "comparable model"). this is poor production planning. i can understand if they waited until 2010 for the Z4, with the Z2 coming out in 2011, but damn, waiting two entire model years for the Z2, that's inexcusable. if i were a shareholder, i'd be up-in-arms about this!
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      03-20-2009, 02:10 PM   #18
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$ 46,575 for a BASE Z4, meaning without the Leather, Premium Package, Heated Seats, Xenon lamps, Auto Transmission and Metallic Color. All these options are essential and in my 2007 Z4 3.0i the Price went from $36,575 to $44,850, an almost $9,000 so ADD the same number the base Sdrive30.i and you a good idea what the car cost with these options, around 55,000. I will definitly get this car USED after waiting a year or so for the prices to come down. For the base model I thought maybe no more than 6k to 7k increase, at $42k which sounds reasnoble but starting at $46,575 thats pushing it especially with this economy. Will see..........
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      03-20-2009, 02:31 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fijigabe0 View Post
here's the thing: the Z2 is at least two model years off. BMW has effectively made the Z4 unaffordable for a large portion of the Z4's population WITHOUT a suitable replacement vehicle (unless you count the 1-series as a "comparable model"). this is poor production planning. i can understand if they waited until 2010 for the Z4, with the Z2 coming out in 2011, but damn, waiting two entire model years for the Z2, that's inexcusable. if i were a shareholder, i'd be up-in-arms about this!
I'm pretty sure the Z2 will be here mid 2010. There will only be a solid 12-15months between them. Time goes by pretty fast. The E92 M3 has been out for a while now...it still dosent feel like it to me.
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      03-20-2009, 02:44 PM   #20
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alright? what does that accomplish? if the concept is out in a year, that means that there's still another year, or at least 6 months of waiting until the production version is available, putting it at a 2011 roll-out date. let's figure you are correct, and there's an incredibly short rollout period, that doesn't answer the question on WHY BMW felt the need to shut out a major purchasing sector, by eliminating a lower-cost Z4, even if based on the 215hp or 230hp N52 engine.

the reason i'm unhappy isn't with the design of this car. i think the new Z4 is a big improvement over the old Z4 (which wasn't bad, in and of itself), but over the business decision of cutting out a large segment of your buying population, by not offering a more entry-level version of the new Z4. if they decided to wait for the Z2 to fill that gap, then the wait, even if 18 months, is too long. i can understand a one-year gap, but making people wait two years (a realitic timeline) will probably bite BMW in the ass with lost sales and revenues.

the economy sucks right now, so what did BMW do? it eliminated a lower-priced version of one of its cars, for a higher-priced version. gee, i don't think that's a smart decision.
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      03-20-2009, 08:46 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWI6 View Post
For Real!!!!!!! WTF 60K, are they crazy!!!! It is an awesome and beautiful car, but 60k is just way too much.
yea, seriously you can get a base package m3 for that price which is much more bang for its buck imo.
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      03-21-2009, 01:04 PM   #22
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Over $50,000?

It's a shame it costs so much and it's such an artsy car, I liked the old Z4 because it was simple and understated (especially the coupe, which they now do not have). Oh, and there was an M model.
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