What is it?
This is the new BMW Z4 sDrive23i, now fitted with a folding hard top instead of a fabric roof. BMW is up-front about the reason for this: the Mercedes SLK has one too and BMW’s research suggests that it costs the Z4 sales.
On first impressions, though, the previous Z4’s character seems to have survived the change of roof. The new car is more accommodating – it’s a smidge wider but over 120mm longer – yet feels similarly minimalist and driver-focused inside. Material quality is good, although without iDrive a rather obvious dash-top cubby bluntly reminds buyers that they didn’t delve too far into the options list.
What’s it like?
Our first UK steer in the Z4 is in the sDrive23i, the range-starter and powered by a 2.5-litre straight six. It’s a free-spinning unit and revs happily to 7000rpm, though it’s not without some inertia.
When mated to the six-speed manual ’box of our test car, with its solid and precise but heavy shift, it doesn’t make for easy rev-matching when blipping downshifts. The noise it makes is refined and smooth more than aurally stimulating, but it still feels like an impressive drivetrain.
Dynamically the Z4 is on the ‘pretty good’ rather than ‘outstanding’ side of things. All Z4 flavours come as standard with 17-inch wheels, with bigger sizes optional, and with Dynamic Drive Control, with which one can choose between three settings of, well, sportiness, I suppose.