Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2009 BMW Z4 Roadster

BMW's land shark sharpens its teeth.


We never know exactly what we're going to get when BMW introduces a new product. Most agree that the new 7-series is a visual improvement over the vehicle it replaces, but then there are all-new vehicles like the X6 that we're still trying to figure out, both from an aesthetic and functional point of view. We do, however, know exactly what a roadster is for and are often swayed by powerful turbocharged engines, so this new Z4—with its updated styling, optional turbos, and retractable hardtop—is likely to win us over.

Alphanumerics Gone Wild!

We'd love to get right into the details, but first a little bit of housekeeping is in order. About a year ago, the BMW X6 brought with it a new way of identifying the company's all-wheel-drive models. The X6 xDrive35i and xDrive50i associated a brand, xDrive, with BMW's all-wheel-drive systems. Now that clumsy nomenclature style is being spread to the rear-drivers, with the Z4—in sDrive30i and sDrive35i forms—being the first to be saddled with the longer name. We're not sure how they arrived at sDrive and also wonder what confusion this was meant to clear up. (Were too many people asking dealers for the all-wheel-drive Z4?) In any event, get used to seeing three times as many characters tacked onto future Bimmers.

As the names suggest, the new Z4 models will be powered by two familiar 3.0-liter inline-six BMW powerplants. The sDrive30i will pack the naturally aspirated version found in the current Z4 and making 255 hp and 220 lb-ft of torque, while the sDrive35i adds twin turbochargers to produce an even 300 hp and 300 lb-ft. Both will come standard with a six-speed manual, and they carry quoted 0-to-60-mph times of 5.6 and 5.1 seconds, respectively. Opting for a six-speed automatic in the 30i slows the time down a bit, to 6.0. The optional transmission for the 35i is a version of the M DCT gearbox introduced in the latest M3, a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual (or, as our German friends like to call it, aDoppelkupplungsgetriebe). Not only will the high-tech cogswapper lower 0–60 times—the quoted time is 5.0 seconds—but BMW also expects it to lower fuel consumption compared to the standard six-speed manual.



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