What is it?
Why I would buy it?
Scintillating performance, ticket to stardom
Why I would avoid it?
What is it?
Every now and then, something special rolls into our CarWale garage. In this instance, it’s none other than BMW’s all-new Z4 that was launched back in April 2019. For the entire time that this ‘San Francisco Red’ M40i spent with us, everybody felt like a hotshot. Now, let’s talk about the looks.
If you’re a fan of long bonnets and crisp backsides, the Z4 will make you gasp each time you set your eyes on her. She looks like an angry cat ready to pounce with those fiercely detailed headlamps and that wide low-slung kidney grille. You tend to simply ogle at the seductive body that flows around those immaculate 19-inch alloys, and on to that tight rear.
The spoiler seems as though designers naughtily pinched that boot-y! Now all it needs is a nice spank; which you will read about in our performance section. And, lest we forget, the sharp tail lamps truly compliment the aggressively creased body panels with M-badging, and those lavish exhaust tips. Boy, I need some coffee.
How is it on the inside?
Getting into today’s cars aren’t intimidating. So that nostalgia to bend and stuff oneself into the Z4, and shut those long charming rimless doors is inevitable. Once in, you appreciate the sporty contours of the dash that’s draped in soft touch materials and highlighted by brushed silver inserts and piano-black trim.
You know this is the real deal when you spot the large paddle-shifters lurking behind the purposefully crafted steering-wheel. All the vitals are portrayed through the ‘BMW Live Cockpit’ instrumentation that flows on to the 10.25-inch touchscreen with iDrive and wireless Apple CarPlay compatibility. Our Z4 had a Harman Kardon system, but seriously, with the best soundtrack exiting the tail-pipes, who wants to listen to a playlist?
And if you thought the cabin was gloomy, just drop the roof for a ticket to stardom; don’t we all love a topless model! Before I digress now, let’s get to the seats. They’re firmly cushioned with immense support, especially for lateral movement, and will hold you snug when attacking those bends. That aside, this twin-seat layout has just about enough space for you to move the seats back-and-forth for adjustments.
In fact, there’s isn’t much storage space behind the seats other than the two seat-back pockets, and a cubby-net. Likewise, the narrow door-pads are a fit for only something that’s small and slim; like a wallet. Thankfully though, there are two cup holders in the centre arm-rest that can also double-up as some usable stowage space. Boot-wise, the 281-litres enclosure is actually usable as per sportscar standards, with no temporary intrusions while the roof is folded, like in other convertibles.
But it is not like the Z4 is perfect. To start with, rearward visibility is limited. Then, there’s the cheap noise when one shuts the doors, and there’s unnecessary effort of muscles needed to open the boot-lid. This could have been easily avoided by moderating the dampers. Moreover, being a drop-down convertible means noise insulation is far from appropriate as external noises creep in; a price to pay for a wind-in-the-hair motoring.
How does it drive?
Finally! To indulge in a car like the Z4, you’d agree that it needs a spanking. I swiftly toggle the driving mode into ‘Sport Plus’, floor the brakes, and rev her up. The devil within instantly awakens, begging you to let go of the brakes by wagging its booty, and spinning the rear wheels feverishly.
Provocatively, I release the brakes, only to hear that extravagant bass-enriched acoustics scream away in the background! As I’m shoved into the seat, the Z4 simply takes-off, piercing the troposphere. It’s not as deafening as an R8, you’d say. But the decibels are enough to keep my parched levels of adrenaline pumping like there’s no tomorrow.
In a spilt-second, time travel seems possible as streetlight poles begin to warp and 100kmph comes up in under 5 seconds. And, as if my brain-cessor wasn’t busy already, the concertmaster within the instrumentation comically pleads for you to witness its show as the monster 3-litre inline six-cylinder unleashes its might; 335bhp and 500Nm to be exact.
My hunger for performance anywhere in the power-band is instantly satisfied by the manner in which this motor summons its horses. Again, the uninterrupted burst of pace is precisely aided by its eight-speed gearbox’s inherent slick-shifting abilities. Sublimely tuned it is, to read this straight-six motor’s power delivery. In Sport Plus it’s undoubtedly jerky, but the possessed me wants nothing less.
Overtaking is more like insulting other motorists as the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph runs (a test of driveability) take just 2.89 and 3.46 seconds respectively. As the Z4 snarls into deep 3-digit speeds, my legal instincts persuade me to back off the throttle, only to witness a cacophony of crackles and burbles. Infinite drama, this Z4 is!
After all that fun, you guessed right; I began to run low on fuel! Thankfully, toggling to ‘EcoPro’ mode markedly dials down the engine response, making it frugal (around 11kmpl), to reach the pump without any undue embarrassments. Meanwhile, ‘Comfort’ mode is all you need since it extracts enough juice from the motor for most driving situations. As expected, ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Plus’ modes keep the motor in the meat of the power-band, and hence jerky; but who cares!
Straight off, let me tell you that driving the Z4 wasn’t nerve wrecking on our roads since it cleared all speed breakers without scraping; slow and easy is the trick. As for the ride, there weren’t any back-bone jarring experiences unlike other sports-cars, even when slotted in Sport. But that’s unless you miss spotting a sharp bump, like we did, which had our Z4’s rear air-borne for a second.
So, the ride is firm at slow speeds but never harsh, and as speeds rise, it gets flatter and feels supremely planted. Furthermore, those sticky 255-profile tyres up-front and 275-ones at the rear allow this projectile to dig its claws into the tarmac; while being an accomplice in shedding speed dramatically; 100-0 in just 2.67 seconds.
However, the handling was a different affair. Despite the petite 50:50 weight distribution, M Sport differential and a quick steering with just two turns from lock-to-lock, I was honestly left wanting more from this steering. Progression isn’t its best character, which is exactly what’s expected of in a car of this sorts. By not feeling entirely connected, uninterrupted fun around bends was a long shot as constant corrections and inputs dampened my experience.
Should I buy one?
Very few cars can make you feel special the way this BMW Z4 M40i does. The whole aura around its performance, looks and experience is nothing short of intoxicating. Sure, it has its fair share of downers. Like it could have had more feel from the steering, some extra cabin stowage, better rear visibility, muffled door-shuts, and be devoid of some ugly gaps where the soft roof folds.
But sincerely, if you wanted that extra dose of zest in your life and had a crore lying around in un-demonetized cash, would you really care about all of these shortcomings? Well, I wouldn’t.
Where does it fit in?
The BMW Z4 M40i costs Rs 1.01 crore (on-road Mumbai). In terms of competition, you can get a Porsche 718 for slightly more at Rs 1.08 crore and a Ford Mustang at Rs 93.7 lakh. There’s also the Audi A5 Cabriolet for Rs 87.2 lakh and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet for Rs 76.2 lakh.
Pictures: Kapil Angane