The brand-new BMW Z4 m40i First Edition is here, and I'm kind of shocked at how much I like it. Let me clarify.
The Z4 has never achieved greatness -- it's always been just OK. The first Z4 debuted way, way back in 2002, and frankly, it wasn't bad looking. In fact, in my estimation, it was probably among the best of the Chris Bangle-designed Bimmers, and the coupe version, particularly in M-trim, was a fairly desirable car. That said, it never really inspired lust in the way that BMW's retrominded Z8 did. Then, as the years went on and the Z4 was redesigned, it got bigger and heavier and less exciting, to the point where I occasionally have forgotten that it's a model that BMW sells.
When the rumors started circulating that the new Z car was going to share a platform and powertrains with the new Toyota Supra, I just kind of shrugged it off. The new Supra looks cool and all, but with BMW, I've been disappointed before. And now, at Monterey's famous Car Week, BMW has dropped what I think is an exceedingly handsome, muscular and well-proportioned roadster. Yes, I'm a little shocked.
First Edition cars will come in frozen orange metallic paint with an anthracite power-folding soft top, thankfully getting away from the heavy folding hardtop, and 19-inch alloy wheels are standard. Inside, you get fancy black leather, a head-up display, power everything and just about every other luxury bell and whistle you can think of. It looks like it'll be a pleasant place to spend time.
The new Z4 in M40i trim isn't exactly the second coming of the full-fat Z M cars of the past, but it's gone from being the biggest snoozer in BMW's convertible lineup to arguably being the best-looking. But can it back those looks up with anything more than typical Bavarian bravado? Yeah, it's looking like it can thanks to a lower center of gravity and a 50/50 weight distribution. Oh, and a turbocharged straight-six that's said to produce 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. That should help with the sporting cred too.
The First Edition car also comes with an adaptive M Sport suspension and big, burly M Sport brakes, as well as an electronically controlled locking differential from… yeah, you guessed it: M Sport. This should mean that the Z4 will be able to drop its well-earned image as a flabby-middle-aged-Dadmobile and go back to the Z's roots as a fun, attractive, sports roadster.
Now, this First Edition spec Z4 M40i is pretty hot, but it may not be indicative of what we can expect from the more affordable and likely tamer Z4 30i, a model we should get specifications for next month and see in dealers come spring of 2019.