But what about the elephant in this room?
BMW’s Z4 delivers unforgettable and quite blinding performance and great road holding. Just one word of advice – when flooring the accelerator, do take care that you’re facing straight forward and at the ready for some broadside action. If you’re schooled in the art of hanging out the rear, you’re on your way to handling nirvana.
In fact, the M40i is completely in its element, skitting across bumpy tarmac with racecar alacrity, braking with aplomb; diving into corners and blasting out as early as you dare put the power down It is a tad darty in the quicker bends, but nothing untoward. It anything Z4’s chassis is the feather in its cap.
There was a time when most convertible sports car suffered with scuttle-shake, which performance car freaks accepted as a common downside you just had to bear. Instead, it was an immediately noticeable that there was virtually none of that driving the well sorted, impressive and good looking BMW Z4 M40i.
Controversial from the outset thanks only to its kinship to the Supra, Z4 adds to BMW’s rich roadster history. It’s grown quite a bit but it’s lighter and tauter too, while that central seating position, low centre of gravity and ideal 50:50 weight distribution bring quite intoxicating dynamism...
This 250kW 500Nm straight-six direct petrol injection turbo tested to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds at the Reef and BMW claims 7.1 l/100km at 162 g/km CO2, never mind that the engine is lighter too. It drives the rear wheels through a memorable latest-generation eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission and M Sport differential that truly magnifiy the acceleration crescendo with almost magical ease.
Z4 gets all-new double-joint spring strut axle up front and a new five-link rear with Adaptive M Sport suspension and variable sport steering and M Sport brakes. Z4’s setup does assist admirably in taking what is not true super-performance car, closer to those exalted heights.
Interesting in its design evolution, Z4 brings a crisper, more purposeful look this time around while that soft top lifts and drops in an instant at up to 50km/h to expose a driver-focused cockpit to the elements. Z4 also gets BMW Operating System 7.0 with Live Cockpit Professional with context-based customisable graphics running all functions via iDrive Controller, steering buttons or voice control and all the connectivity you need and expect.
Add a broad array of driver assistance systems from Collision, Lane Departure and Pedestrian Warnings with City Braking function standard. Options include Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, distance info, Lane Change Warning, Rear Collision Prevention and the Speed Limit Info and BMW Head-Up Display.
Small roadster driving has its drawbacks though – climbing the Z4 is a can be an effort with the roof up and requires some practice, especially how to line yourself up and crouch for the challenge. Once seated, it proved comfortable.
It is gratifying that BMW keeps putting magic back into a the fading open sports cars creed with the likes of Merc’s SLC being killed off, but there is also an elephant in this room…
This car shares its soul, but having now driven both it and its Supra sibling, we’d happily concur that not only are both quite sublime, but they are both also very much their own cars. Badge engineering at its finest? – Mario Lupini
ROAD TESTED: BMW Z4 M40i
Engine: 250kW 500Nm 2998cc I6 turbo petrol
Drive: 8-speed automatic RWD
TESTED (1500m ASL):
0-60km/h: 2.65 sec
0-100km/h: 4.78 sec
0-160km/h: 11.67 sec
0-400m: 12.8 sec @ 174km/h
80-120km/h: 4.13 sec
120-160km /h: 5.43 sec
Fuel: 9.1 1/100km
Warranty/Service: 5y 120K/3y 90Kkm