Detroit Motor Show 2009Ahead of its official debut at next year's Detroit Motor Show, BMW has revealed the new Z4 which features a folding metal roof.
Putting out the fire
The basic shape of the new Z4 is eerily similar to the soon-to-be-departed current model with a really long bonnet and two seats positioned right in front of the rear axle. BMW has toned down the use of "flame surfacing" — a mixture of slashes, and contrasting convex and concave surfaces — which reached its zenith with the current iteration.
Air-con or wind-in-your-hair?
The biggest change is that the new generation Z4 features a folding-metal hard-top. With the press of a button, and 20 seconds of your life, the Z4 can be converted from an all-weather coupe to wind-in-your-hair roadster. If the rumour mill is to be believed, BMW will also have a conventional soft-top Z4 ready a year after the new Z4 coupe-convertible goes on sale — Australian sales are pencilled in for the third quarter of 2009.
Like in BMW cars of yesteryear, the dashboard on the new model is slightly canted towards the driver; the previous model's interior was panned for omitting this. An 8.8-inch LCD, with a resolution of 1,280x480, pops up out of the centre of the dash and is linked to BMW's iDrive control system and an 80GB hard disk (12GB of which is available for music files).
Ministry of silly names
The Z4 will be available, at least overseas, with a choice of three six-cylinder engines: a 150kW 2.5-litre, a 190kW 3.0-litre and a 225kW 3.0-litre twin-turbo badged as sDrive23i, sDrive30i and sDrive35i respectively. BMW apparently seems intent on badging its four-wheel drive SUV models as xDrive, and sportier rear-wheel drive models as sDrive. Sigh.
Two clutches are better than one
A six-speed manual is offered throughout the entire range, with an optional seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission available on the 3.0-litre twin-turbo — we can't quite bring ourselves to call it the sDrive35i yet — with a normal six-speed auto available on other models.
Throttle response, steering assistance, cut-in point for the stability control system, shift points on the automatic transmission, and optional adjustable suspension can be adjusted through three modes (Normal, Sport and Sport+) via the Z4's Dynamic Drive Control system.
Running to standstill
Run-flat tyres are still a standard fit on the new Z4. This spares — sorry about the pun — the car from carrying around the dead weight of a spare tyre, to the benefit of both performance and fuel economy. The problem is that if you do get a puncture in the bush it can be hard to find a replacement tyre at the back of Bourke, and run-flats are known to ride more harshly than conventional tyres.
On the funky front, the BMW badge on the side of the car also doubles as a side indicator.