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      08-12-2018, 06:31 PM   #1
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Z4M vs Z4sdrive35i/is

Can any one give me advice? Z4M or Z4 sdrive35is

Currently driving a 135i. Love the car, however, I used to have a miata, and want a roadster again, especially before having kids here soonish.

My needs:

I will be doing several track days in summers so the car I want should be hopefully better than my 135i (stock). I also would enjoy GT touring and ideally the car can do longer trips (2-3 hours) with comfort and my iphone's music. Also, I would drive all year, until I eventually add a family size car as a third in a few years.

Is the Z4 35is/35i as bad on a track is the reviewers make it out to be? My research shows the m adaptive suspension makes it nearly as tight as the old Z4m. All the reviews and videos the person never puts it into sport plus to test it out and then complains about the luxury style ride. Is sport plus just not a big change?

My other concern with the 35is is the weight and transmission. I have the ZF 6 in my car and I like it but dont love it. Is the DCT a vast improvement? I'd prefer a stick however, there are NONE for sale in the midwest that I have ever seen so I don't expect to find a 35i with a stick anytime soon.

I will likely dinan the car up to 400hp to make up for the weight so I'm not particularly worried about that.

With the Z4M I like everything I read about it with the exception of its age. How have they aged? My car is an 09 and looks IMO like a brand new car interior wise, and despite its lack of trendy tech like apple car play and a touch screen, I don't mind plugging in my phone to the aux cord, the sound quality it better than bluetooth anyway. Is the nav system in the M worth buying or does it show the cars age.

So right now the Z4M seems like a safe bet, but is it too old? Will I be constantly in the shop etc. The N54 is an engine I am familiar with and am comfortable with the maintenance schedule to fix its problems. The Z4Ms engine I know nothing about.

In my shoes, what would you pick? The price drop on the Z4M is also appealing, but to me the 35is is stunning and looks better/newer than the upcoming model. The M, imo also looks newish but is beginning to show age.

How is road noise on the highway? Miata was always super loud and thus my wife h ated it.

My last question for you guys. Is the refresh model of the 35is worth the price inflation? Do you get the new key style, interior?

Thanks!!
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      08-13-2018, 11:00 AM   #2
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Get the N54, DCT transmission, and forget about Dinan. Use MHD and other routine upgrades and do a LOT better and a LOT less expensive.
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      08-13-2018, 03:28 PM   #3
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I would say the Z4M is probably the better track car. That said, if you're going to do touring, I would have to say go with the e89 35i/is. Get a 2014+ model so you have the face lift. Yeah, the interior doesn't change much, but the tweaks to the exterior, namely the headlights, is totally worth it. IMO it makes the car look better and more current than, say, a pre-facelift with even the best aftermarket halo replacement bulbs\replacement halo's.

I have driven my e89 35i M Sport in Sport+ on some very aggressive drives out in the Hill Country and it was an absolute blast. It has some shortcomings, sure, but they weren't anything I couldn't work with. The adaptive suspension makes long drives an absolute pleasure. I've done plenty of 700+ mile trips in it (setting off for one this week) and I did a couple 2000+ mile trips in it (setting off for one 2nd week of Sept.). I wouldn't hesitate to drive it completely across the country, coast to coast. As with any other BMW, first thing to do is ditch the RFT's. That said, the RFT's didn't affect the ride comfort in the Z4 as adversely as they did the 1er, but they're still crap for traction and handling. As far as steering is concerned, I don't really find myself missing the hydraulic in the 1er nearly as much as I thought I would. I can still feel the road through the steering wheel in the e89 and it's heavy enough in Sport and Sport + to give you that weighty, in control feeling. It's not a numb Cadillac in Comfort mode either.

I had a 2012 135i M Sport with the BMW tune before the Z4 I have now. The DCT in my '16 Z4 is SO much better than the one in my previous 135i that had all the software updates. The road noise, to be honest, isn't much different in the Z4 from the 1er due to the hard top. It's only slightly louder and I don't really notice it at all. The seats are much more comfortable on long trips than the 1er, that's for damn sure and I am comparing M Sport seats to M Sport seats when I state this. I can feel the turbo lag with the N54, but the difference is so slight, especially after being tuned. The higher RPM pull is better with the N54 vs. the N55, IMO. I read all the horror stories with the N54's, swore I'd never own one, now I do, and now I'm a believer.

I have Dinan stage II tune. I love it. It drives more like a factory production program. It feels is like OEM, just faster. In other words, it doesn't feel like a "tuned" car to me and I've owned\extensively driven plenty of those. This is a feeling I prefer, other may not care. I also like the fact that there's a warranty that backs up my factory warranty. That may not even be a factor on a used one, so take that with a grain of salt unless you're gonna get a late model '15 or a '16 that has factory warranty remaining. Dinan tunes do not cost NEARLY as much as they used to. Now they actually cost less than APR tunes for VW\Audi's. $400 + labor (probably $100 depending on the shop\dealer) and $520 + labor for Stage II.

The NBT iDrive is definitely WAY better than what you have in you're '09, functionality wise and the case would be the same with the version from the Z4M roadster. It's so much easier to use. But in the Z4M roadster vs. the e89, there's almost no difference in how its looks affect the overall looks of the interior in a comparison between the two. I wouldn't even worry about that being a factor.

I do want to say, I really LOVE the looks of the Z4M roadster...I think it has aged very well.
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      08-13-2018, 05:21 PM   #4
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I've driven the Z4m and owned an E85 for 170,000 miles, my new ride is the E89. My opinion, is the E89 is much more a touring car. Fast, but not really the fun factor that comes with the first generation Z4. More comfortable, better seats, stereo etc but you don't get the urge to blast through corners or play with it like I did the E85.

My lifestyle forced me to get something newer.

One thing you should consider is finding a good E85 or coup E86. The N52 has come a long way and being lighter will give you a better balanced car. You won't get the quality suspension or brakes but z4M will likely need to have those replaced anyways. Unless you are completely power crazy the N52 will be more reliable and power output is no longer that bad. Modest investments can get you around 250rwhp @ 30 plus mpg on the hiway.

The E85s are getting old, so expect worn leather, convertible top issues and sun beat plastics. Mirrors and headlights too. Dealers can polish these up be they go full in a month or two.
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      08-13-2018, 06:39 PM   #5
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Cabinet has good sound isolation. Some wind noise at highway speeds, but still far less than your common ecobox. The loudest annoyance is definitely the tire road nosie without a doubt, the run-flats suck. If you swap them out, your wife will have zero complaints.

The you mean the 2013 refresh? From what I saw while shopping, the 35is you have to get the 2014MY to get the changes, every 2013 35is listed that I viewed was not the refresh model. You do not get the new key, the interior is basically the same thing. For me it was worth it personally. Plus lesser miles typically since its not as old.


The z4 35is is not a track car, no two ways about it. From the very first turn-in you'll understand what I mean. No LSD (even my damn BRZ years ago had a LSD so stupid BMW...), its heavy (you definitely feel the weight transfer, and its got noticeable body roll. The adaptive suspension, in sport mode helps a bit but it doesn't change the underlying genes of the car. IMO if you're going to track it and thats a big focus for you I'd personally go towards the Z4M
Since you're familiar with the N54 I won't touch on cooling and tuning.

DCT isn't as smooth as the ZF transmissions but it is extremely good. Honestly prefer the Z4's DCT over the e92 M3 DCT, can't explain why. I have no experience with the ZF6 but to the ZF8, upshifts and normal driving its pretty close to the DCT, but downshifts is a vast improvement. DCT speed changes between comfort and sport/sport+ mode.
If you will be tuning it just keep in mind that theres some debate over the DCT max torque figures, some say its around 450-500ftlbs when reliability starts going. If you're aiming for 400HP, your peak torque will definitely be up there.

Tires, coilovers, and swaybar will definitely help a lot and it'll crush the Z4M in straight line but don't think its as good of a track toy at the end of the day.

I would get the Z4 35is personally in your position. Since you're driving year round, its a lot better daily-has torque, DCT, comfort, and more practical. The boot is good sized and interior storage is not bad. Also, personally wouldn't be able to go back to a lowish displacement NA motor after experiencing the N54 lol

my 2cents
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      08-14-2018, 03:28 PM   #6
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I had 135i msport DCT n55 convertible with MHD stage 2 and now 2011 Z4 35is (DCT N54)

My driving: hard canyon carving, daily commute

Handling:
Stock to stock comparison 135i handled better with way lesser body roll. Z4 e89 is just softer
I ditched runflats immediately after buying and replaced with Michelin PS4S. What an improvement in ride quality and grip.
To reduce the body roll I went with H&R sway bars now its on par with 135i I feel.

Comfort & driving
Its way more comfortable with adaptive suspension. However there are LOTS of interior rattles that I've finally hunted after spending over a month on it. There's also lot of road noise in the cabin. But 135i is probably as bad.

I initially din't like the long hood and sitting on rear axle, and two months into it, I refuse to drive other cars. Its addicting. Its not as confidence aspiring as 135i, but when pushed hard on the corner, it can totally take it.
Goes without saying that steering on 135i had better feedback but z4 is better for city driving, parking areas. It has decent amount of feedback, gets better in sport+. I wish I could keep just the steering always in sport+.
Sport vs sport+ suspension gets noticeably firmer but it still isn't a track car. Even with sway bars when pushed really hard on canyon roads, I notice a limit which z4m didn't have.

DCT:
it's on par with 135i's DCT but for some reason it doesnt down shift enough when pushed hard in comfort or sport mode. I just fallback to M/S for shifting during enthusiastic driving.

For the track Z4M is way better. But its punishing for city roads. If you want a car that does everything with a small compromise, its e89. I'm happy with it. I recommend it over z4m.
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      08-15-2018, 12:05 PM   #7
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I track my Z4 35i and while I have loads of fun with it, it definitely needs help to really be up to the task properly. H&R swaybars helped a lot but you'll need to do more if you want to have a really sharp handling car and to kill some of the front end push it's got. If you aren't racing competitively with it though it's plenty good enough to cruise to the track, have a great time, and drive home in.
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      08-16-2018, 10:55 AM   #8
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Appreciate all your opinions everyone, all very informative thanks for taking the time. The 'real world' info on the aging of the e85 is useful. Seems my wife wouldn't like it at all.

Any mods to the 35is that would improve the handling situation? I find the 135i handles well but is heavy compared to the Z06 and e30 M3 I've spent time with. I'm glad to see the 35is can get to atleast that level.

I'll try to aim for the facelift model if I go for it. Still not sure if I can let the stick go. Its a Shame about the new upcoming Z4.

I suppose right now I'll make my choice based on the best condition vs price I can find regardless of model.

Any other thoughts pls share! I like to know every detail before I make a purchase
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      08-16-2018, 01:22 PM   #9
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Track?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangent View Post
I track my Z4 35i and while I have loads of fun with it, it definitely needs help to really be up to the task properly. H&R swaybars helped a lot but you'll need to do more if you want to have a really sharp handling car and to kill some of the front end push it's got. If you aren't racing competitively with it though it's plenty good enough to cruise to the track, have a great time, and drive home in.
Like Tangent says...it depends on what YOU mean by "tracking my car." For some that means racing, for others just enjoying the challenge of YOUR car on the track, getting the most out of it. In addition to the changes mentioned above, if you really want to race, you might look as some of the body kits for aero and downforce.

BTW, has anyone come up with a way to turn the e89 into a "coupe", ie., lock the top in up position and then remove ALL the stuff that moves the top up and down, eg., motors, relays, belts, etc.?

One recommendation...if you haven't already done this: when you test drive, esp., the 35is, make sure that you do a part of it in Sport or Sport+ with the gear lever pulled towards you to get the real feel of the DCT, in terms of up and down shifts and their speed. It shifts up at 3 or 4 grand, and downshifts where you would most of the time. Make sure not to paddle shift or it'll go into manual mode and you'll have to do all the upshifting.
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      08-16-2018, 10:58 PM   #10
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My track use is limited to HPDEs. Not looking to step up to racing anytime in the next 5 years. More or less I want to hit the big tracks near by, and pass some guys and improve my own lap time.
As cheesy as it is I'm very much in tune with the whole 'not a contest, just there for fun' mantra they push all the time at those things.
Of course, I enjoy being faster than the other guys, especially hate getting passed by the non BMW guys that show up in mustangs and camaros. And at the same time the guys in the Civic Sis look so painfully slow I dont want to be there either.

Anyone have a rough estimate of the cost it would take to make the 35is 'track ready' for lack of a better word. Let's say tune, sway bars, and other recommendations?

According to CCA club racing rules the Z4 M is an G category (just weight/hp ratio is all) and the stock 35is is H. The Z4 M is competitive against the e92 M3 and the 135i. The 35is (stock) would be competitive against the e46 M3 and e39 M5.

However, this doesn't account for chassis. Assuming you tune to 400 hp your 35is is now just shy of the e92 M3 in the G category. (technically once a car is modified it becomes rated on CCs and thus it moves it to D just shy of C by a few CCs)

The reason I mention this is simply to point out that both Z4s are right where I want to be in the middle. No ridiculous 500 hp like a Z06 but at the same time going to be very respectable around a track.

If the e89 can be easily modified to be more 'M' like in the corners I'm sold and then punch a button and drive comfortably 3 hours back home.

Its actually pretty special when you think about it.
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      08-18-2018, 06:18 AM   #11
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I have owned a 2007 e86M since new.

A couple of months ago, I sold a 2009 e89 after 3 years of ownership and 43000 klms.

I have no experience of the ZF auto. The e86s manual gearbox is pretty satisfying to use as long as you do not have a short shifter kit. Just took mine of after 8 years and i think its pointless, just makes the throws notchy and your life hard in traffic. It is not as easy as a Miata or an S2000 of which I also have substantial experience but I suspect that the sturdier built of the Getrag gearbox in order to handle the torque plays a role.

The DKG is a fantastic gearbox but it would have been funner if it was faster. There is no way it is inferior to the ZF. In my case, I was unlucky enough to have to replace the mechatronic unit, the command unit for the gearbox. Bought it from a dealer in Germany through mail order for over 3K euro but still saved over 1,5K from buying it locally.

I think the e86M is a real charismatic bmw. I feel that not that many people know, not many were made. The only mod I have is vorschlag camber plates. Zero understeer, not more oversteer. With the increased camber I have, its the most satisfying steering I have ever experienced in a BMW. I seriously doubt that the 1M can be better than that. Steering is a big thing for me. It's miles better than the e46 M3. It doesn't have its balance though.

People dread the bearings issue but it's something widely known. You just have to factor in the cost every 50K miles to be on the safe side. I know that maintenance cost in the US is a pain.

The e89 with the DKG is a much more comfortable car. It's the sport seats that make it more livable, compared to the sport seats of the e86M which are very hard.

I was not happy though with how my car drove when i bought it. Horrible steering, not feel, steering. It did have lowered springs which I think is a terrible concept. Out went the crappy suspension, in came an Ohlins kit and ground control camber plates with -2,2 camber up front, HR swaybars, powerflex bushings up front and two e46 M3 bushings in the back. Powerflex makes a rear kit since last year.

The car was transformed. Steering was great, point and shoot. The feel was great too plus since the rack is electric no kickback either. Not typical for an e89.

This particular car had an ess stage 2 tune also so that made it really fast, faster than the e86. Twitchy though with the dsc off, car would snap at kickdown. I also had a Drexler diff, that was a complete waste of money. Not suited to the car and perhaps my settings, but i am no chassis engineer. But that car was not for powerslides. The z4M, i usually drive it with the DSC off.

As far as reliability is concerned u probably know a lot what do you do when the wastegates start making funny noises? Mine supposedly does according to the new owner at 66K klms, although i did not experience any loss of power.

Both cars felt contemporary to me. The e46 does feel like an older car.

I would get the z4M.
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      08-18-2018, 06:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gnx View Post

The e89 with the DKG is a much more comfortable car. It's the sport seats that make it more livable, compared to the sport seats of the e86M which are very hard.


.

You can't understate that. Just getting in and out of the Z4M with sport seats can be a pain. Once you are in them you wish you weren't.

I liked the Z4M, just made me work to hard to enjoy it. I guess I'm lazy.
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