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      05-09-2013, 12:17 PM   #1
Asbjorn
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Wink Road trip in China with a tuned Z4

Dear Bimmerpost members

Below are some pictures and highlights from a recent 4000km road trip I completed here in China. The trip went from the sea-side city of Qingdao in the east, to the most populous city in western China, mountainous Chongqing. It is also the two cities I have come to love the most while living in mainland China as a foreigner.

The trip

So the trip went from Qingdao to Chongqing. In China Qingdao is famous for it's Tsingtao beer and Chongqing is famous for its beautiful people, spicy food and for being the most populous municipality in China (29 million with 16 inside the city core). The driving distance is similar to driving from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California, or from Copenhagen, Denmark to Rome, Italy or from Vienna, Austria to Moscow, Russia. Far enough that the sunset and sunrise was delayed by more than one hour (but the time zone is the same all over China).

Any questions about driving or living in China as a foreigner are more than welcome.

Video clips and pictures from the trip




A special video made during my drive back to Shandong. It was captured by my dashboard cam and then speeded up 64 times so that the entire 22hr trip can be watched in a few minutes. The video has no sound, so feel free to add some music on your own.




The car - an Alpina Z4?

With all of the N54-equipped cars, including the 1-series M coupes as well as the M3 convertibles sold out, a ~400hp Alpina Z4 roadster with improved chassis and driving dynamics would arguably have been the most fun BMW this side of M6 convertible money currently on sale. At least if a convertible is more fun than a coupe, then I think the Z4 is the lightest and most beautiful option within the range to start with.

In a straight line an Alpina Z4 would keep up with the newest 991 convertible, look better in the process, and keep you more comfortable as well. But more importantly, because in a Z4 the seating position is so much closer to the rear wheels, once it got into a powerslide, almost nothing with 4 wheels would feel more wonderful. In a real roadster, all the feel of what the front end is doing is given away, just so that you can enjoy the rear wheels sliding that much more.

But then there is a problem. Because the Alpina Z4 roadster was never created or offered for sale. Who knows what a wonderful car it could have been?

That is why I made my own. And so far I have been driving it for one year in China. Or at least the essential ingredients are similar. Ie the installation of more power and non-RFTs. My conclusion is that I can highly recommend anyone to try something similar and use it both with DSC off, and for those long road trips.

Car: 2009 E89 sDrive35i
Engine: N54 modified with ESS tune (350hp / 390hp)
Transmission: 7 speed DCT
Suspension: Standard (non-adaptive)
Wheels: Modified 18" 8J/8,5J with non-RFTs 225/255
Exterior: Orion Silver Metallic
Interior: Extended leather (beige/wood)

I have had the ESS flash tune installed for about 1 year / 25,000kms. I use it mainly because it improves the responsiveness of the engine. This is recommended for power sliding and sporty driving as the car reacts more instantly to your right foot. Of course it also takes away some comfort, like when driving in very slow-moving traffic, but without an M button, there is no way to have both at the same time. The driving dynamics selector does not feel like it has the same effect on the engine parameters which alter responsiveness. It is more in the business of making what was 10% throttle before into 50% now.

I also wanted the 35is / 1 series M coupe torque but in a DCT car with normal suspension and normal body kit. This is because I prefer not seeing any M badges on something which belongs to a different category. In fact, it should have had some more Z badges instead, like on the rev counter. It should have boosted its own personality of fun and style instead of motorsport, but that is a separate discussion. I also like the classy and clean look of the standard 35i bumpers on silver colors.

Next, while the Chinese roads require softer suspension and higher ground clearance, I would probably recommend the standard non-adaptive suspension with the stiffer M-sport option in Europe and the US. The important part however is the tires. They have to be non-RFTs, as they would also have been on an Alpina or M car. This latest generation Z4 is still stiffer than a normal 1/3/5-series, and it just becomes too harsh and noisy with the OEM RFTs on almost any roads. The adaptive suspension does not seem to solve that problem in its current generation, and is not available with DSC off in a Z4 anyway. That is why I would go for the standard M sport suspension on non-RFTs in most places, except China.

And then you have it, with some carefully selected options and mods, this car might just have been the best car BMW-Alpina never offered for sale.
Attached Images
 
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Little known facts about BMW: 1) The N54 is still in production and used in the current Z4 35i and 35is. 2) In a Z4 you can get sport+ steering combined with normal suspension etc by selecting DSC=off. (Update: DSC=off also offers sports steering in the M135i) 3) All Z4s with 19" wheels are still only offered with the worst performing OEM tires ever sold with a DCT equipped BMW (Potenza RE 050 RFT).

Last edited by Asbjorn; 05-22-2013 at 10:02 PM.
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      05-09-2013, 12:58 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing this. I will check out the videos later.

This reminds me of a recent article Economist

http://www.economist.com/news/china/...ing-lhasa-road

Were you going to lhasa ? haha
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      05-09-2013, 02:00 PM   #3
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      05-09-2013, 09:44 PM   #4
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The top 10 pics for those of you with no time to watch the videos

Chongqing








On the way










Qingdao







And a bonus pic

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Little known facts about BMW: 1) The N54 is still in production and used in the current Z4 35i and 35is. 2) In a Z4 you can get sport+ steering combined with normal suspension etc by selecting DSC=off. (Update: DSC=off also offers sports steering in the M135i) 3) All Z4s with 19" wheels are still only offered with the worst performing OEM tires ever sold with a DCT equipped BMW (Potenza RE 050 RFT).
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      05-09-2013, 09:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nicknaz View Post


Thanks for sharing this. I will check out the videos later.

This reminds me of a recent article Economist

http://www.economist.com/news/china/...ing-lhasa-road

Were you going to lhasa ? haha
Thanks for sharing!

When they've finished the expressway to Lhasa, I shall probably be the first attempting to drive there in a Z4! I made plans to go there earlier but found that the roads are simply not suitable for a Z4 as of now.
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Little known facts about BMW: 1) The N54 is still in production and used in the current Z4 35i and 35is. 2) In a Z4 you can get sport+ steering combined with normal suspension etc by selecting DSC=off. (Update: DSC=off also offers sports steering in the M135i) 3) All Z4s with 19" wheels are still only offered with the worst performing OEM tires ever sold with a DCT equipped BMW (Potenza RE 050 RFT).
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      05-17-2013, 07:58 AM   #6
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Great pics etc. I must admin the e89 is a great long distance car.
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      05-17-2013, 09:28 AM   #7
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Nice pics!
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      05-20-2013, 11:11 AM   #8
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Very nice man! I'm jealous of the roads and tunnels you have there.
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      05-27-2013, 03:45 AM   #9
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Awesome video
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      05-27-2013, 05:40 PM   #10
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Great video and pics. Thanx for the ride.
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      06-07-2013, 10:44 AM   #11
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how much is a z4 in china? and you know how to open youtube there?
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      06-07-2013, 11:34 AM   #12
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I had a blast when i was in Qingdao! Great city. Another good one in Ningbo. Thanks for sharing, those pictures gave me nice flashbacks.
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      06-07-2013, 12:56 PM   #13
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Nice!

I've been to Qingdao from the Shanghai area. I was lucky enough to have a low-mileage Volkswagen Scirocco while I was there. It was white on tan leather interior, and was 1.6L dual-charged I believe, with DSG transmission. Driving in China is quite fun, especially on the freeways; as there's TONS of space to run (think: kid having a toy store all to himself). I've never been to Chongqing, but I have had their spicy chicken nuggets. Very delicious!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ALPINA B5 View Post
how much is a z4 in china? and you know how to open youtube there?
At least double the cost of one in the USA. So if say it cost $50k in USA, it'd easily cost $100k+ in China.

There are ways to get around the whole YouTube thing. VPN is quite popular
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      06-07-2013, 01:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alpha_Zulu View Post
Very nice man! I'm jealous of the roads and tunnels you have there.
I really hope OP blasted through those tunnels with the top down . SO much more fun hearing that engine scream and exhaust notes in a vert.
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      06-07-2013, 01:20 PM   #15
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Me like the high speed video. Shows an entire journey in just a few minutes not to mention an insight of what your hometown (and country) looks like on the road.

Now what would really be entertaining is to see a cross country road trip in India. You know, where there are no rules on the road and having to stop for wedding marches and herd crossings in the countryside (cows, water buffaloes, goats, pigs, etc) - and many times in the cities too!
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      06-07-2013, 02:12 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snow King View Post
Me like the high speed video. Shows an entire journey in just a few minutes not to mention an insight of what your hometown (and country) looks like on the road.

Now what would really be entertaining is to see a cross country road trip in India. You know, where there are no rules on the road and having to stop for wedding marches and herd crossings in the countryside (cows, water buffaloes, goats, pigs, etc) - and many times in the cities too!
Agreed, a very cool view into something that most take for granted... the idea that something that may feel entirely ordinary to one may be pretty damn interesting to someone who's never been to that part of the world, country, city, etc.

Makes me want to do some hood mount videos of local towns.
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      06-07-2013, 06:51 PM   #17
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OP blends in nicely!
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      06-07-2013, 07:12 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ALPINA B5
how much is a z4 in china? and you know how to open youtube there?
The 20i is 540000rmb the 35i is 790000. The currency is 6.3:1
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      06-07-2013, 07:15 PM   #19
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Hey man, made it to the front page. Congratulations. Very nice shot and road trip. Is that easy drive on the highway in China? Lots of cars and heavy trucks there. Next time drive from Qingdao to Beijing.
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      06-07-2013, 07:42 PM   #20
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I like that you took the time to document the journey! Nice car, solid color.
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      06-08-2013, 12:02 AM   #21
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Thanks for sharing
Come to Shanghai next time
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      06-08-2013, 09:47 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asbjorn View Post
Dear Bimmerpost members

Below are some pictures and highlights from a recent 4000km road trip I completed here in China. The trip went from the sea-side city of Qingdao in the east, to the most populous city in western China, mountainous Chongqing. It is also the two cities I have come to love the most while living in mainland China as a foreigner.

The trip

So the trip went from Qingdao to Chongqing. In China Qingdao is famous for it's Tsingtao beer and Chongqing is famous for its beautiful people, spicy food and for being the most populous municipality in China (29 million with 16 inside the city core). The driving distance is similar to driving from Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, California, or from Copenhagen, Denmark to Rome, Italy or from Vienna, Austria to Moscow, Russia. Far enough that the sunset and sunrise was delayed by more than one hour (but the time zone is the same all over China).

Any questions about driving or living in China as a foreigner are more than welcome.

Video clips and pictures from the trip




A special video made during my drive back to Shandong. It was captured by my dashboard cam and then speeded up 64 times so that the entire 22hr trip can be watched in a few minutes. The video has no sound, so feel free to add some music on your own.




The car - an Alpina Z4?

With all of the N54-equipped cars, including the 1-series M coupes as well as the M3 convertibles sold out, a ~400hp Alpina Z4 roadster with improved chassis and driving dynamics would arguably have been the most fun BMW this side of M6 convertible money currently on sale. At least if a convertible is more fun than a coupe, then I think the Z4 is the lightest and most beautiful option within the range to start with.

In a straight line an Alpina Z4 would keep up with the newest 991 convertible, look better in the process, and keep you more comfortable as well. But more importantly, because in a Z4 the seating position is so much closer to the rear wheels, once it got into a powerslide, almost nothing with 4 wheels would feel more wonderful. In a real roadster, all the feel of what the front end is doing is given away, just so that you can enjoy the rear wheels sliding that much more.

But then there is a problem. Because the Alpina Z4 roadster was never created or offered for sale. Who knows what a wonderful car it could have been?

That is why I made my own. And so far I have been driving it for one year in China. Or at least the essential ingredients are similar. Ie the installation of more power and non-RFTs. My conclusion is that I can highly recommend anyone to try something similar and use it both with DSC off, and for those long road trips.

Car: 2009 E89 sDrive35i
Engine: N54 modified with ESS tune (350hp / 390hp)
Transmission: 7 speed DCT
Suspension: Standard (non-adaptive)
Wheels: Modified 18" 8J/8,5J with non-RFTs 225/255
Exterior: Orion Silver Metallic
Interior: Extended leather (beige/wood)

I have had the ESS flash tune installed for about 1 year / 25,000kms. I use it mainly because it improves the responsiveness of the engine. This is recommended for power sliding and sporty driving as the car reacts more instantly to your right foot. Of course it also takes away some comfort, like when driving in very slow-moving traffic, but without an M button, there is no way to have both at the same time. The driving dynamics selector does not feel like it has the same effect on the engine parameters which alter responsiveness. It is more in the business of making what was 10% throttle before into 50% now.

I also wanted the 35is / 1 series M coupe torque but in a DCT car with normal suspension and normal body kit. This is because I prefer not seeing any M badges on something which belongs to a different category. In fact, it should have had some more Z badges instead, like on the rev counter. It should have boosted its own personality of fun and style instead of motorsport, but that is a separate discussion. I also like the classy and clean look of the standard 35i bumpers on silver colors.

Next, while the Chinese roads require softer suspension and higher ground clearance, I would probably recommend the standard non-adaptive suspension with the stiffer M-sport option in Europe and the US. The important part however is the tires. They have to be non-RFTs, as they would also have been on an Alpina or M car. This latest generation Z4 is still stiffer than a normal 1/3/5-series, and it just becomes too harsh and noisy with the OEM RFTs on almost any roads. The adaptive suspension does not seem to solve that problem in its current generation, and is not available with DSC off in a Z4 anyway. That is why I would go for the standard M sport suspension on non-RFTs in most places, except China.

And then you have it, with some carefully selected options and mods, this car might just have been the best car BMW-Alpina never offered for sale.
hey guys
Qingdao is my hometown
But I am in JiNing now,
I have a E90 335i N54+6AT and a 2010 Z4 35i~
happyanim:
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Last edited by diddlkiss; 06-08-2013 at 09:55 AM.
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