The BMW Z4 is back after a 10-year absence. The sixth generation Z car is a co-production with Toyota that uses it as the platform for its Surpra. The 2019 edition spans three variants and ditches a hardtop for a soft-top. There’s also a massive dose of Aussie pride embedded in the car thanks to Calvin Luk, who was the exterior designer. Chris Bowen took it for a spin at the recent local launch.
What is it?
Z cars have been around since the 80’s. The Z stands for Zukunft, or German for future. Over the years Z cars have certainly been at the forefront of tech, a great example being the Z8 that had Neon taillights and Xenon headlights. That was trailblazing stuff for the year 2000, sadly that car was never made for right-hand-drive markets.
For this review I’ll focus on the Z4 M40i which is all about pure performance from the ground up. It has the classic roadster proportions, with a seating position just ahead of the rear axle. The two-seater convertible is driven by the rear wheels, has a new transmission and plenty of tech crammed in. The design is lively and extroverted and bound to add some zest to the BMW line-up.
Behind the Wheel
The Z4 M40i is big leap forward when it comes to interior presentation. The cockpit is driver focused with high-quality leather everywhere. The new dash layout has actual buttons and hasn’t gone down the path of digital instrumentation, which to be honest is a nice change.
It’s all very sophisticated to look at while the various textures and materials across the dash certainly make for a sense of occasion every time you slither your way into the low-slung Z4.
Being the hero car of the range, you’d expect some serious Ka-Pow for your cash, the M40i thankfully delivers that in spades. Slam down your right foot and it rockets to 100km/h in just 4.5 seconds, delivering a very satisfying wack to the back.
The ride, especially in Sports mode is a tad choppy on some of our more ordinary roads. The adaptive M suspension does its best to iron out the imperfections, but the Z4 is best left to carving up roads that are better sealed, the 19-inch rims probably don’t help as well.
But the Z4 M40i can slice and dice with the best of them when it comes to nailing a series of apexes or sling shotting out of corners. The steering wheel is as meaty as the engine hiding under the long nose.
The rear exhaust lets out farts and crackles at lower speeds, much to the amusement of rural roadwork gangs we came across throughout our journey via the Goulburn Valley. Incidentally I swear those blokes all come from the same family, they all sport beards and all nod in the exact same way.
This is a very nimble car, with great poise and precision at the end of your fingertips. Point the nose and away she goes, the rear has the potential to step out if you turn off traction control, but the well-honed suspension tune turns the Z4 M40i into a very predictable steer.
The M40i scores a straight-six 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine that boasts 250kW / 500Nm. A new eight-speed sports transmission comes with launch control as standard. Should you be in the mood, there’s a pair of paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but honestly the ZF gearbox is more than capable when left to its own devices.
The other variants in the Z4 line-up are powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 145kW / 320Nm in the sDrive20i and 190kW / 400Nm for the sDrive30i.
The latest BMW Operating System 7.0 is fitted to the Z4 as is BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional. The tablet style monitor is a 10.25-inch colour touchscreen, for the first time the Z4 also gets a head up display. The standard Connected Package Professional includes all kinds of connected services such as real time traffic information, plus it’s actually one of the better infotainment systems around. But, despite the fact it offers wireless Apple CarpPlay, BMW still want you to pay for it.
Apple CarPlay is $179.00 for 12 months, $470.00 for three years and $639.00 for a lifetime plan. At this price point I guess most BMW customers don’t care, but Apple does not charge BMW for using CarPlay. I just don’t understand how BMW can actually do this.
The Z4 M40i starts off at $124,000 before on-roads. The two other variants, the sDrive20i and sDrive30i come in at $84,900 and $104,900 respectively. You can add a M Sports Plus Package for $2,100 that includes a tyre pressure monitor, M seat belts and metallic paintwork to the M40i. There are various other M packages on offer depending on what model you choose.
The M40i has a claimed fuel economy of 7.4L/100km, I’d need to go for more of an extended drive in the coming weeks to give you a real-world figure.
Why would you buy one?
You’re doing well in life; you want to treat yourself and have BMW’s newest roaster in your driveway.
It’s hard to fault the Z4 M40i aside from what I’ve already pointed out. Some may find the looks a tad polarising front on, BMW has really been playing around with the famous kidney grille of late. Someone remarked via our Facebook page that the nose resembled a Kia Stinger, that’s a bit of stretch. Personally, I’d rather a hardtop but in general the BMW M40i Z4 does a stellar job of keeping the Z legend alive. It’s an 8 put of 10 from me.