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2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is (photos)

BMW hots-up its Z4 roadster with the sDrive35is edition. Boasting 340 horsepower, the Z4 makes it to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds. The M adaptive suspension and dual-clutch transmission come standard.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 16 Josh Miller/CNET
With the sDrive35is model, BMW adds a sport version of its roadster to the lineup. Unlike its model mates, which have gone to a single twin-scroll turbocharger, the sDrive35is preserves the twin turbos from the previous model year. The sDrive35is also comes with a surprising amount of standard performance tech.
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The Z4 employs BMW's traditional kidney grille, giving it a distinct front end, while lower air intakes add a sporting appearance. Down the sides, the Z4 is a very sculpted roadster, its front fenders rising just a little higher than the door sills.
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The direct-injection 3-liter straight-six-cylinder engine gets two low-pressure turbos, one for each set of three cylinders. Output is 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque--a big increase over the standard Z4's 306 horsepower.
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The Z4 is a comfortable car to drive with the top down, as a wind deflector in back of the cabin keeps turbulence to a minimum.
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The power retractable hard top opens and closes at the push of a button, doing a complex dance of panels stacking on top of panels.
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Unlike many roadsters, the profile of the Z4 still looks good with the top up, as the roofline reflects the shape of the rear fender.
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With the top down, the roof panels stow in the trunk, severely limiting room for cargo.
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Standard on the Z4 sDrive35is is the M adaptive suspension, which lowers the car almost half an inch in sport mode.
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As a roadster, there is not much room in the cabin. There is a glovebox and a console that is not very deep. For Americans, BMW also slaps an unsightly cup holder to the console.
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Our car came with only one cabin tech option, an iPod adapter. If the navigation option were present, an 8.8-inch LCD would pop up from the center of the dashboard, and the console would host an iDrive controller.
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BMW uses an electronic power steering unit in the Z4 sDrive35is. This technology takes some load off of the engine, and BMW has tuned it very well, allowing excellent road feedback.
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The tachometer gets the sDrive35is logo on its face. The display in the center includes trip information along with time and temperature.
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Along with the adaptive suspension, the Z4 also gets BMW's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission standard. We were not very impressed with the Sport mode, but it executes manual gear shifts very quickly.
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Lacking the navigation system's large LCD, BMW makes due with this small radio display for audio selection. We would like to see BMW employ a larger monochrome display capable of showing more information, but the company is fairly clever with this limited amount of space.
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Below the track name, you can see music library categories for the attached iPod. You can browse by artist, album, and genre.
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The base stereo in the Z4 sDrive35is uses only six speakers, but two of them are these big woofers, located behind the seats.

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