Motoring

BMW 2019 sDrive20i review – still a hoot

Back in May I attended the launch of the brand spanking new BMW Z4. After a 10-year hibernation the kids from Munich now have a Z car back in the stable. For my review of the high-performance Z4 M40i read on here. But if your wallet doesn’t extend to $124,000 big ones, then perhaps the $84,000 sDrvive20i base model may get you over the line. I’ve just spent a week in one, mostly sans roof.

What is it?

This Z car was designed by an Aussie, Calvin Luk and he’s very proud of it. Trust me, he gave one of the best presentations about a new car I’ve heard to date. Although this model may miss an extra 105kW that the M40i Z4 has and even 45kW under the nose of the mid-spec sDrive30i Z4, it still doesn’t drag its tail hitting highway speeds in just over six and a half seconds.

This is a very well honed car. I took it for a solid run on the Old Pacific Hwy from Sydney to Gosford, NSW. Which proved to me you don’t need the violent in-line six-cylinder turbo engine of the M40i to rock your socks off. 

Behind the wheel

The sDrive20i Z4 I had featured the M Sport Package that upgrades the brakes, gives you M seat belts, 19-inch rims and most importantly Adaptive M Suspension. The San Francisco Red model was more than capable of delivering a very satisfying drive. Despite having the least potent 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder, it still delivers some aural delights.

The various driving modes, such as Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Adaptive actually dramatically alter the drive. It can go from a rather blunt affair to closer to a surgical knife. Sport Mode features an extra Sport Plus option. BMW really allow for some serious extra play in that setting before the traction control calls it a day, trust me I found that out in a M4 at Philip Island one day in a big way.

Being a Roadster, it features all the traditional traits, you sit almost on the rear axle, the nose is long and that clam shell bonnet features arches that lift off over the front wheels when opened. It’s an attractive little thing, I’m not sure about the headlights but overall, it’s pretty stunning to look at. With or without the roof on.

Vital stats 

The sDrive20i is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 145kW / 320Nm while the sDrive30i has the same engine wound up to 190kW / 400Nm. The M40i scores a straight-six 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine that boasts 250kW / 500Nm. 

All models come with a new eight-speed ZF sports transmission. One that urges you to use the pair of paddle shifters on the steering wheel, just to hear that exhaust note blow its nose with all kinds of snorts and bubbles.

Technology

The latest BMW Operating System 7.0 is fitted to the Z4 as is BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional. The tablet style monitor covers 10.25-inches, plus 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 is actually one of the better infotainment systems around. Wireless Apple CarPlay is the only way do it, especially if your iPhone supports Qi charging. But I’m still cranky about the $179.00 subscription for 12 months, $470.00 for three years and $639.00 for a lifetime plan. That’s naughty BMW, very naughty.

There are pop up roll bars in the event of a calamity and a “light” version of Autonomous Emergency Breaking (AEB). It will slow you autonomously but not actually fully stop you, they call it “autonomous city braking”, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that at this price point. 

Price

The sDrive20i Z4 starts at $84,000 before on-roads. You can spend $104,900 on the sDrive30i or $124,000 on the M40i Z4. Fuel economy is rated at 6.5L/100km, I scored a consistent 10.4L/100km. BMW still offer at three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. For the M40i video review see below.

Why would you buy one

You’re doing well in life; but you don’t need a sledge hammer.

EFTM scoreboard

Personally, I’d rather a hardtop-style convertible I’m just not a fan of the canvas. But this does an exceptional job of paying homage to the Z car. Plus, I didn’t mention the Toyota Supra once! It’s a 7.9 out of 10 from me.

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BMW 2019 sDrive20i review – still a hoot
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