By DEREK OGDEN
|Any car that has elements of the Jaguar E-Type gets my vote. Okay, so the iconic 1960s sports car is deeply rooted in the 20th century – simpler times – and the new Z4 sDrive35is is packed with 21st century automotive wizardry – a world away - sharing a long bonnet, short tail and rear-wheel drive with the ‘old girl’ the newby has immediate appeal. Low (tick), sleek (tick) and fast (tick). All the sports car boxes are taken . . . and then some.
The 2010 sDrive35is is true to the physical character of the latest Z4 incarnation, launched last year, with the addition of the unique M Sport Package featuring an aggressive-looking aerodynamics kit including adaptive suspension which lowers the car by up to 10mm to maintain vehicle stability under varying road conditions.
Exclusive 18in Star-Spoke alloy wheels, previously an option, are now standard.
The BMW Z4 sDrive35is features a modified straight-six twin turbocharged engine plus high precision injection technology. Two small turbochargers, through their low inertia, cut in immediately at low engine speeds, each supplying three cylinders with compressed air.
Power and performance are built up straight away (no lag), the system maintaining a high boost pressure throughout the entire load range. Peak torque hits a peak of 450Nm at a low 1500rpm and is maintained up to 4500rpm, while maximum power of 250kW is delivered at 5900rpm.
On the other side of the coin, despite this increased performance, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are identical to that of the 225kW Z4 sDrive35i.
Averaging consumption of 9 litres per 100km on the combined urban/highway cycle, the new roadster emits just 210g of carbon dioxide per kilometre, the same as the Z4 sDrive35i.
BMW’s EfficientDynamics is responsible - reducing emissions while improving performance using advanced technology such as brake energy regeneration and electric power steering.
Power is put to ground via BMW’s seven-speed double clutch transmission which includes a race car-style launch control function.
A full suite of safety features, both passive and active, are standard. These include ventilated disc brakes all round with an ABS anti-skid system, Emergency Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control and cornering brake control.
The M Sport Package’s aggressive and dynamic elements also run to the cabin interior which includes aluminum carbon trim, M-leather steering wheel with brushed metal gearshift paddles and Anthracite roofliner, while unique floormats, embroided with the BMW Z4 sDrive35is model designation, complete the sporting appeal of the range-topping roadster.
True to its design parameters to give a genuine roadster driving experience, the car spears from standstill to 100km/h in just 4.8 seconds, the same as the iconic BMW, the six-speed manual M3 Coupé. An initial shove in the back comes from the overboost function lifting torque for a short time to 500Nm, allowing for a surge of acceleration and power. The adaptive M suspension reacts quickly to steering commands, stabilising on-the-edge entry and exit of bends. The suspension set-up is equally as attentive, with the rear dampers being adjusted as soon as the front wheels run into a blemish in the road surface.
With the metallic roof up there’s a somewhat dark and sombre ambience on entry to the passenger compartment. However, fire up the motor, move off and metaphoric sparks begin to fly.
With the fully automatic electric top down, cabin turbulence is confined to minor-buffeting wind in the hair, for which I’m not complaining. At my age I’m lucky still to have something on top to be tousled.
It is left to the deep, resonant engine note – the work of BMW engineers – to impinge, in the nicest way, on cabin conversation, crowning the classic roadster experience.
PRICING AND SPECIFICATIONS
Priced from $129,900 (manufacturer’s list price) the BMW Z4 sDrive35is rightly earns its spot at the summit of the current Z4 range, consisting of the Z4 sDrive35i, the Z4 sDrive30i and the Z4 sDrive23i.
BMW Z4 sDrive35is ENGINE
Type: 3 litre turbocharged
Cylinders: Straight six/four valves per cylinder
Compression ratio: 10.2/1
Fuel system: BMW twin power turbo, direct injection. Valvetronic variable valve control
Maximum power: 250kW/5900rpm
Maximum torque: 450Nm/1500-4500rpm (500Nm with overboost)
Transmission: Seven-speed Sports Automatic with double clutch.
Overall length: 4244mm
Overall width: 1951mm
Overall height: 1284mm
Track width, front/rear: 1511/1559mm
Kerb weight: 1525kg
Cargo capacity: 310 litres with roof up, 180 litres with roof stowed
Fuel tank capacity: 55 litres
PERFORMANCE AND FUEL CONSUMPTION
Acceleration 0-100km/h: 4.8 sec
Max speed: 250km/h limited
Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 9 litres/100km; CO2 emissions, 210g/km
Suspension: Adaptive M suspension
Brakes, front/rear: Servotronic. Discs, inner vented. ABS, Emergency Brake Assist, Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control, cornering brake control.
Steering: Power steering with Servotronic
Wheels: Light alloy. 8/8.5Jx18
Tyres: Front, 225/40 R28; rear, 255/35 R18