BMW Reveals 2010 Z4 In Advance of NAIAS Debut
By Chris Haak
BMW will officially reveal its 2010 Z4 roadster in Detroit at the NAIAS next month, but has elected to spill the beans on the all-new car a month early. The car’s look is all new, as are (for the most part) its powertrain choices, as well as the construction of its roof (changing, like the 3-series convertible did, from a soft top to a folding hardtop). Like the recently-launched 7-series, the Z4 eschews much of the flame surfacing and controversial styling for a more classic BMW shape. However, while the 7-series went with a pretty conservative look (some have said that BMW seems to have pretended that the previous generation just didn’t ever happen), the new Z4 is a pretty handsome car that doesn’t really need any apologies for its styling.
The overall proportions are similar to the old car’s, with a long hood, short deck theme carrying over. The front of the new Z4 is similar to the BMW Concept CS sedan shown a few years ago (a production version of which is now stillborn), while the rear end treatment reminds one of the 6-series. The 6-series is something of an odd-looking vehicle, but don’t be alarmed; Bangle-butt aside, the rear is probably the best part of that car, and the 2010 Z4 gives up on the bustle-backed Bangle-butt look, as did the new 2009 7-series. Unfortunately, the Z4 will be saddled with the same absurd naming convention that the X-series SAVs crossovers are, because their name (X5, X6, etc.) does not tell anything about what’s under the hood the way 335i does. This means that the US-bound Z4s will be called the Z4 sDrive30i or the Z4 sDrive 35i. And of course, the “35i” part of the name is misleading, since the engine displaces 3.0 liters and not 3.5 liters.
Under the hood, the engine choices should be familiar to US BMW buyers; both are 3.0 liter inline sixes, with the naturally aspirated version in the Z4 sDrive30i making 258 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque and the twin turbo version in the Z4 sDrive35i producing a strong 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. Either engine can be had with a conventional six-speed manual, and the sDrive30i model is available with a six-speed torque converter automatic, while the sDrive35i model is available with BMW’s new seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The Z4 sDrive35i with the seven-speed transmission is capable of out-accelerating the manual transmission variant (by 0.1 seconds in the 0-62 sprint).
The Z4 gets the unloved, unappreciated iDrive interface when navigation is chosen as an option for the first time in the 2010 model, but at least it’s the new improved version found in the 2009 3-series and 7-series models, with favorite buttons and a folding high-resolution 8.8 inch navigation display. Elsewhere in the interior, materials appear to have been upgraded based on the photos, especially with an Extended Leather option in the Z4 sDrive35i model that adds leather to the upper instrument panel, door sills, sun visors, and door pulls.
We probably won’t get one into the Autosavant test fleet for a weeklong stay until sometime around the middle of 2009, but whichever Autosavant writer gets this car will have to be sure to book a long weekend with his significant other in this car to fully appreciate its virtues. That couple will just have to remember to pack lightly, because that trunk isn’t very large.
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