AT THE WHEEL: BMW Z4

A run around the block in the new BMW Z4 with Bob Arora...

Having previously owned a few of the original Z3s, I was really excited to be able to get behind the wheel of the latest Z4.

It was launched 22 years ago, and this latest incarnation is the best looking in my eyes.

Any Bond fans with a good memory will remember the Z3 in Golden Eye – driven along with a 7 Series instead of his usual Aston Martin.

The Z3 was never quite as good as the Porsche Boxster to drive, but it was cheaper and a great looking car at the time.

BMW have decided to bring back the fabric roof instead of the heavier metal roof. This is a much lighter option and takes up less space.

The designers have taken quite a few styling cues from the 8-Series – and believe me, this is no bad thing. The Z4 and the Toyota Supra both share the same platform, but I’m sure they’ll be like chalk and cheese to drive.

I was lucky enough to drive the Z4 with the M Sport body kit – the front and rear spoiler, along with the larger alloy wheels, give this car a real sense of drama and a really aggressive look.

The car has been launched with three engine choices: a 20i engine offering 197hp and the 30i engine giving drivers 258hp. Petrol heads can upgrade to the M TwinPower Turbo 6-cylinder petrol engine, offering 340hp.

The base model has a top speed of 149mph and the two other engines have their top speed limited at 155mph.

The range topping model has an amazing sounding engine, its exhaust pops and crackles in sport mode. The suspension has been totally re- designed, with the rear featuring double wishbones for the first time. Aluminium components have also been used to save weight.

As you’d expect, the build quality is excellent – the materials used are absolutely top notch. I loved the chunky steering wheel, the buttons on the wheel control, the cruise control and the volume settings.

The materials, stitching and metal trim all look and feel great.

The sat nav system is very easy to use, and if any other BMWs have been caught up in traffic, or involved in an accident that is causing delays, it informs accordingly.

The optional technology pack adds reverse cameras and self-parking, which is excellent, especially in tight spaces.

You can also get heads-up display, which is the first time it has been available in the Z4.

The Harmon Kardon speakers are absolutely brilliant and the digital dash is great. The buttons for the heating are all underneath the infotainment screen, and I thought it was nice to see buttons, rather than controlling everything via the screen.

A child seat can be fitted to the passenger seat, but there isn’t much boot space. A golf bag fits in with ease, as does a small suitcase and overnight bag. I suppose it’s adequate, considering it’s only a two-seater.

The wind-deflector is a bit flimsy and it’s very hard to see out of your rear-view mirror in the dark. I ended up using the side mirrors much more. It stops the wind buffering when you put the roof down, and the roof can be opened while on the move as long as it is done under 31mph. The roof can also be opened via a digit key on your phone. This feature is only available for android phone users – bizarrely, BMW haven’t installed Android Auto. Apple phone users don’t have this option at the moment, which is a shame as it’s great.

All cars get parking sensors as standard, dual zone climate control, leather upholstery and a wide screen infotainment screen.

An 8-Speed automatic gearbox is standard across the range. I liked the optional bling crystal gear-lever, but it does come at a cost.

It was great to drive the new Z4, it certainly didn’t disappoint in the way it drove. I think the new styling has given the car a much more aggressive look. If it’s ever called up for a Bond film again, it’ll definitely look the part – this time round.


Car courtesy of Cooper BMW, Durham

 

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