The BMW Z4 was not exactly a runaway success. Indeed, it was easily outsold by the Mercedes SLK throughout its lifetime.

34400bmw The uncompromising styling - perhaps the purest expression of Chris Bangle's theories about surfacing - made it a hard sell.

The Z4's looks were also said to have put off a great proportion of the female buyers who helped make the Z3 a success.

The Z4 was also noticeably more expensive than a Z3 and was never sold in a more affordable four-cylinder version.

So while the Z4 was clearly a far superior car to the Z3, and a better driver's car than the SLK, it seemed to fall between two stools.

It lacked the handiness, hard-top security and chic looks of the SLK, but it also never gained a reputation as a serious driver's roadster in the manner of the Porsche Boxster.

56639bmw- So when I saw the new Z4 in the metal for the first time, I was taken aback.

BMW had done little to change the recipe. It retained the extreme long-nose proportions of the old car and although the styling has been softened, it is still strikingly atonal, shot across with odd cutlines and ridged panels.