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    Car and Driving - Editorial Library

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    BMW Z4 (2009 - 2013)

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    Introductionword count: 126

    BMW's original Z4 had a lot going for it. The styling still looks good today whether you chose the soft top or the coupe, it was well built, drove well and wasn't priced exorbitantly. Perhaps BMW rested on their laurels a little too long with that car though, because before the Bavarian company knew it, Mercedes, Audi and Porsche were all forging ahead with designs that suddenly put the Z4 quite a long way down many buyers' shortlists. The solution was an all-new car that was launched without great fanfare but which was nevertheless a huge step forward. It's hard to believe that car appeared back in 2009, but it did and now used examples are available at reasonable prices. Here's what to look out for.

    Modelsword count: 7

    (2 dr roadster-coupe, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0 petrol)

    Historyword count: 305

    BMW reprised its launch tactic of the original Z4 when the second generation car was launched back in summer 2009. Go with the powerful models first to create the requisite aspirational image and then flesh the range out with more proletarian variants for those who had previously been unable to countenance the prior price of ownership. It's pretty much the reverse strategy of the Z3 roadster, where the first cars shipped were puny 1.9-litre cars and where the model was fixed in people's minds as a glitzy Mazda MX-5 rival. Not so this Z4. It was pure Mercedes SLK/Porsche Boxster competition and when it arrived it shocked many. Yes, the styling theme was evolutionary, with clear Z4 design cues carrying over and it would be fair to assume that this was just a facelift car with a folding hard top roof, but the changes ran so much deeper. It was a markedly bigger car; 148mm longer at 4,239mm and 9mm wider at 1,790mm, and this results in greater interior space and luggage capacity. With the roof up, headroom was increased by 44mm while you also got 20mm more shoulder room and 43mm more elbow room. The launch line up consisted of 2.5-litre 204PS Z4 sDrive23i, with the 258PS Z4 sDrive30i acting as the centrepiece while the 306PS Z4 sDrive35i acted as the flagship model. An even more powerful 340PS Z4 sDrive35is model appeared at the start of 2010 to complete an all six-cylinder engined range. This didn't last too long, as at the end of 2011 the powertrain line-up was revamped to incorporate an all-aluminium 2.0 litre four-cylinder unit, also toting BMW's twin-turbo technology. The new motor debuted in two new models, the sDrive20i and the sDrive28i, which replaced the 204bhp SDrive23i and the 258bhp sDrive30i six-cylinder cars. A facelifted model appeared in Spring 2013.

    What You Getword count: 273

    For a metal-roof roadster, the Z4 is remarkably handsome with its folding top in place. There are no awkward looks, no tell-tale bulky rear end. Of course, clever as BMW's designers are, they're not miracle workers. The solid roof made the second generation Z4 185kg heavier than its fabric-topped predecessor and meant a reduction in boot space (to just 180-litres with the roof down). Still, it's no worse than its arch-rival, Mercedes' SLK in this respect and the Z4 has the advantage of being able to boost its 310-litre roof-up capacity via an optional ski-flap in the boot. Thus equipped, you could carry either a couple of sets of skis or, more ambitiously, a couple of sets of golf clubs. Annoyingly, original buyers had to pay over £500 extra for the 'Comfort Access' option which enables you to raise this folded roof sandwich slightly to get hold of bulky stuff you put in the boot when the roof was up but which otherwise becomes trapped there when the roof is down. Buyers not wanting to pay the extra worked round this problem by using the 15.5-litre interior storage area behind the seats. Otherwise, irritations are notable by their absence, unless you count the fact that the folding roof, which electro-hydraulically raises or lowers in just 20 seconds, can only be used when stationary. As you'd expect for the premium money being asked, everything is beautifully built from the highest quality materials. Plus the extra head, shoulder and elbow room that have been built into this MK2 Z4 model give it a far airier cabin feel than rival Audi TT or Mercedes SLK competitors.

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    Category: Convertibles

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    This is an excerpt from our full review.
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