2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is Adds a Letter to its Name, 35 Horsepower to its Engine

By Chris Haak


P90054023BMW confirmed yesterday that it will display the upcoming 2011 Z4 sDrive35is roadster at the January North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The “s” model adds a special version of BMW’s 3.0 liter twin turbo inline-6 that produces 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, vs. 300/300 for the “normal” sDrive35i (and in fact for normal versions of the twin turbo I6 in other BMW applications such as the 535i, 335i, and 135i, among others.) As in the Porsche 911 Turbo, this engine’s management software also allows for a brief overboost function that boosts peak torque from 332 lb-ft to 369 lb-ft . With the overboost feature, the car can leap from zero to sixty in 4.7 seconds, according to BMW.

The upgraded engine makes its extra power without increasing fuel consumption or emissions – always a good thing in these environmentally-sensitive, fuel economy-intensive times.  Aside from the engine upgrades, the Z4 sDrive35is gets a re-tuned exhaust for a more aggressive sound and a deeper bass rumble than the exhaust in the regular sDrive35i.  Having driven a 2009 Z4 sDrive35i with the top down, I can testify that even the standard exhaust has a fairly-aggressive sound, and hearing the dual-clutch gearbox pop off upshifts and downshifts literally in the blink of an eye is another magnificent auditory experience.  From BMW’s press release, it appears that the modified exhaust does not improve performance or contribute to the car’s horsepower and torque gains relative to the standard model.

P90054021In addition to the engine and exhaust upgrades, the Z4 sDrive35is also includes a revised electric power steering system that features “sportier programming,” as well as a reconfigured 7-speed DCT (dual-clutch transmission) that provides for faster gear changes and an increase in torque prior to shifting.  The revised transmission also includes a launch control feature for optimized acceleration from a standstill.

The car also features M Sport upgrades that include a thicker steering wheel, M Aerodynamics, M adaptive suspension (with a 10 mm lower ride height), and electronically controlled shock absorbers.  Special 18-inch light alloy wheels are standard with the Z4 sDrive35is, and 19-inch light-alloy wheels are optional.  This fastest of the current Z4 also features front and rear bumper treatments unique to this model.

The full press release is below, and the Z4 sDrive35is arrives at dealers in Spring 2010 as an early 2011 model.

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BMW’s Roadster Gets Higher-Performance Model for 2011

  • 13.12.2009
  • Press Release

Range-topping Z4 sDrive35is model makes world premiere at NAIAS.

Woodcliff Lake, NJ – December 12, 2009, 6pm EST… Combining classic proportions with modern features, the BMW Z4 Roadster enjoys the top spot in its market segment. Now, the new BMW Z4 sDrive35is distills the Roadster’s performance potential to produce one of BMW’s fastest and best-handling Roadsters ever. The BMW Z4 sDrive35is is making its world debut as a 2011 model at the 2010 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. It arrives at authorized BMW Centers in Spring 2010.

More air, boost, and torque: More BMW performance.

The latest Z4 model is characterized by instantaneous response to the accelerator pedal, fantastic sounds, and a free-revving spirit. The engine features increased air intake flow and increased boost pressure to release more power with the same standard of efficiency. The combination of twin low-mass turbochargers and High Precision direct injection offers an output a naturally-aspirated engine would only be able to provide through more cylinders and larger displacement.

The turbocharger system developed for the engine of the new BMW Z4 sDrive35is maintains a high output throughout the entire engine speed range. Nominal peak torque is increased to 332 lb-ft from 1,500 rpm to 4,500 rpm. Maximum output of 335 hp is delivered at 5,900 rpm.

Overboost function for athletic acceleration.

The enhanced engine management system of the BMW Z4 sDrive35is includes an electronically-controlled overboost function to briefly increase torque under full load by another 37 lb-ft. This temporary torque peak of 369 lb-ft gives the car a significant increase in acceleration. The BMW Z4 sDrive35is will complete the sprint from a standstill to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds (preliminary). Top speed of the BMW Z4 sDrive35is is limited electronically to 250 km/h or 155 mph.

High Precision direct injection and BMW EfficientDynamics.

The BMW Z4 sDrive35is offers outstanding power and performance without an increase in fuel consumption or emissions. Its figures are expected to match those of the BMW Z4 sDrive35i with Double-Clutch Transmission on the EPA test cycle. This balance of performance and fuel efficiency results from the fundamental design and layout of the BMW inline-6, which combines twin turbochargers with High Precision direct injection. The fuel injectors operate at a pressure of up to 200 bar (2900 psi), distributing fuel in a conical spray pattern throughout the combustion chamber. Another advantage of direct fuel injection is its cooling effect which allows higher compression while reducing the possibility of detonation.

Further technologies offered under the BMW EfficientDynamics philosophy include Brake Energy Regeneration, Electric Power Steering, and on-demand operation of engine accessory units.

Signature engine sound to accompany the surge of power.

The exhaust system of the BMW Z4 sDrive35is has been tuned specifically for this model. Acoustic engineering gives the car a very unique sound pattern across the speed range. This tuned sound is the result of special baffles and a unique set of mufflers. The sound is characterized by a deep rumble with a focus on the low frequency sound range.

Enhanced Electric Power Steering.

Electric Power Steering (EPS) on the BMW Z4 sDrive35is features very sporty programming, focused to provide intense and clear steering feedback to the driver. This enables the driver to turn-in with remarkable precision and confidence at all vehicle speeds.

7-speed Double-Clutch Transmission with special programming.

The standard 7-speed Double-Clutch Transmission (DCT) in the BMW Z4 sDrive35is combines the best in driving dynamics and efficiency. A highlight is the dual-mass flywheel, configured for the higher levels of power and performance. The DCT can shift gears without the slightest interruption of power to the rear tires, and offers a choice of automatic or manual gear selection. The programming of the DCT has been tailored to complement the sporty nature of the BMW Z4 sDrive35is at every level.

When shifting gears manually or within the SPORT and SPORT+ modes of the Z4’s standard Driving Dynamics Control, the transmission offers an exciting experience through faster gearshifts and a greater increase in torque before shifting. The DCT also features a Launch Control function for maximum performance when accelerating from a standstill. The DCT is controlled by an electronic gear selector on the center console and comes with gearshift paddles on the steering wheel.

M Sport upgrades to match the new engine’s performance.

The BMW Z4 sDrive35is includes new M Sport upgrades such as M Aerodynamics and adaptive M Suspension. The adaptive M Suspension combines a ride-height reduction of 10 millimeters (almost 0.4”) with electronically controlled shock absorbers (Dynamic Damping Control) to improve the vehicle’s agility without compromising ride comfort. The M Sport upgrades emphasize the Z4’s athletic character through aerodynamically optimized exterior features and customized interior components.

Special 18-inch light-alloy wheels in five-spoke design round off the sporty character of the Z4 sDrive35is. 19-inch light-alloy wheels are available as an option. In addition to its unique wheels, the new model is further distinguished by a striking front bumper with a matte aluminum trim bar in each outer air intake, a rear bumper with accentuated surrounds on the tailpipes, and a rear diffuser finished at top in body color and black textured surface underneath.

M Sport interior enhancements and new Kansas Walnut leather.

Inside the BMW Z4 sDrive35is, the driving experience is enhanced by features such as a new thick-rimmed M leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles, an M driver’s footrest, and sport seats. Grey-faced instrument dials feature the “sDrive35is” model designation. Further features inside the Z4 sDrive35is are the Anthracite-colored BMW Individual roof lining, M door sill strips, floor mats with colored piping and the “sDrive35is” model designation, as well as M interior trim in Aluminum Carbon. The new Aluminum Carbon trim features the recognizable “weave” of natural carbon fiber interpreted on a matte aluminum base.

The range of leather upholstery is being further enhanced by an additional color variant marking the launch of the BMW Z4 sDrive35is: All versions of the Z4 Roadster are now also available in Kansas Walnut leather as an option.  The BMW Z4 sDrive35is is available with a choice of six paintwork colors. In addition to Alpine White and the metallic colors Titanium Silver, Black Sapphire, Space Grey, and Deep Sea Blue, the Z4 Roadster is now available for the first time in Melbourne Red metallic. Regardless of the color chosen, the exterior mirror caps on the BMW Z4 sDrive35is are always Oxide Silver.

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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  1. You have gain of the extra hp with no pain using extra gas or warmer emissions. Very good, BMW!

  2. BMWs look good again, finally.

  3. Why was I born so poor? If I could just own one of these, my life would improve big time.

  4. Can you show a picture of this car’s tail? I would like to see the stream of letters and numbers running across the entire decklid.

  5. James2, I have added a small gallery to the end of the post. The back actually just says Z4, but the long name is on the side of the front fenders. BMW was so kind as to include a detail shot of just the stupid name and the car’s air extractors. Enjoy!

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