Before we get to a new BMW Z4, let’s speak about a prior one. Because there’s something we need to know: BMW knows.
BMW knows that nonetheless a prior Z4 looked any in. a arrange of two-seat roadster you’d pattern Munich to produce, when it came to a energetic capabilities it was a little, well, disappointing.
It was a automobile to suffer being seen in, rather than to suffer driving. Which is fine, if that’s your thing. But, as an Autocar reader, that’s almost not your thing.
It’s not unequivocally BMW’s thing, either. “We wanted a Z4 with some-more energetic capabilities, one that was sporty and precise. A pristine roadster, a pristine pushing machine,” says Florian Dietrich, a BMW pushing dynamics expert.
In that sense, a third-generation Z4 doesn’t follow on from a prior one, as most as hark behind to a original, that initial went on sale in 2003. “The initial era of Z4 was sporty,” says product manager Andreas Ederer. “The second era was comfortable. This [new one] can do both. The final chronicle was a automobile to expostulate on a Sunday afternoon. This is a automobile you’ll wish to expostulate on Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon.”
The brief, then, was to make a new Z4, quite in range-topping M40i guise, a driver’s car. A Porsche Boxster rival. Actually, that’s still a brief.
The Z4 is due to go on sale in Mar subsequent year, so a camouflaged M40i we see here is still a pre-production version, and BMW’s pushing dynamics group is still enlightening it and honing how a several adaptive systems such as a Dynamic Stability Control work together.
But we clarity a certainty that they’ve delivered on a brief, and that explains because they’ve invited a handful of reporters to BMW’s Miramas exam trickery in a south of France to expostulate a automobile during a comparatively early stage. And, carrying driven it, a early impressions are that BMW has indeed delivered.
The engineering behind a new BMW Z4
To know because a new Z4 is so opposite from a predecessor, journey all a vital pieces taken from a aged one. “The usually thing we carried over was a name,” says Dietrich.
Well, that didn’t take long.
The Mk3 Z4 is built on a new architecture, grown by BMW privately for sports cars and common with a arriving Toyota Supra. Elements of a height will also be used on destiny models, starting with a subsequent 3 Series.
When they started work, a Z4 growth group came adult with a array of technical selection requests, and BMW government finished Dietrich “very happy” by similar to all of them. As a result, a M40i has been grown as a package, starting from a belligerent up, with a use of a Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres also propitious to a M3 and M4.
The pre-production cars we gathering were propitious with discretionary 19in wheels, though that’s about a usually choice M40i buyers will have in terms of dynamics. So there are opening brakes, electronic adaptive dampers, tractable cessation with MacPherson steel struts during a front and a multi-link set-up during a rear, and a limited-slip differential.
Up front, energy comes from a twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder section also found in a M240i. Here it produces somewhere around 350bhp and 369lb ft, driven to a behind wheels by an eight-speed involuntary gearbox.
The M40i is a usually chronicle of a Z4 that BMW’s engineers would speak about, though pattern models badged ‘20i’ and ‘30i’ as common – and don’t pattern a full M version, or a hybrid.
A pivotal aim was to safeguard a framework was as unbending as possible, to equivalent a unavoidable concede that comes from not carrying a bound roof. Dietrich says a torsional acerbity is some-more than 30% improved than a prior Z4, job it “the stiffest open automobile we’ve ever made. It’s stiffer than a M4 coupé”.
The group used a M240i as a closed-top reference, and Dietrich says that during any indicate of a M40i where army are brought, a automobile is stiffer than that indication – nonetheless a deficiency of a bound roof means it’s somewhat reduction unbending overall.
The new Z4 is somewhat longer than a prior one, nonetheless a wheelbase is marginally shorter and it’s around 70mm wider. It’s lighter, too, a additional weight of a latest reserve systems equivalent by reverting from a prior Z4’s folding hardtop to a soft-top, for “a pristine roadster interpretation”, as Ederer puts it.
The board roof saves 60kg; overall, a automobile is around 50kg lighter and, crucially for a handling, has a reduce centre of gravity. Of course, with a renewed concentration on dynamics, BMW doesn’t wish to change too distant behind a other way, and nonetheless a Z4 we gathering wore a deception livery, a hide look during an undisguised chronicle reliable that it’s a fine-looking roadster indeed, closely following a Z4 Concept formerly shown.
Behind a circle of a BMW Z4
That was a board on that a pushing dynamics group had to work. The board on that we get to weigh their swell is a perfectionist Miramas doing circuit, that facilities a good brew of corners, bumps and dips, as good as a circuitous towering passes and faster roads in a surrounding Provençal countryside.
In late May sunshine, it’s an ideal plcae in that to expostulate a cabrio, so it’s revelation for a car’s concentration that most of a M40i’s energetic growth wasn’t finished here though during a Nürburgring, where a continue is rather reduction gainful to top-down cruising.
The M40i facilities 3 categorical pushing modes – Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus – along with a tradition option. It’ll journey happily and benignly in Comfort, shower adult even a bumpiest roads we could find with relations palliate and composure. Yet pull it harder and a M40i will still offer good response and sharp, accurate steering when called upon.
Switch to Sport mode and things step adult a rigging substantially. The cessation stiffens, but apropos bone-shakingly heartless on rough roads, while a steering tightens, a engine becomes some-more responsive, any rigging is hold longer and a sound entrance from a twin exhausts becomes some-more sonorous. That creates a pushing knowledge some-more concerned and rewarding, a M40i responding good to being pushed.
Sport Plus is, as we competence expect, some-more focused still. Positive signs, then, generally if there’s some-more enlightening to be done.
It’s all about a fundamentals and, in this case, that started with a brief. “Everybody knew we wanted to make a sports car,” says Dietrich, “and BMW government has let us do what’s required to make a automobile like that. It’s an honour to work on cars like this.”
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