2007 BMW Z4 M CoupeA hard car is good to findSix or seven months ago, with the departure of our long-term 330i looming on the horizon, Hallstrom polled us on what sort of BMW we should request next. My suggestion was a Z4 M Coupe.
I mentioned it kinda casually, as if I wasn't too bothered one way or the other.
A few months later, we got one-Titanium Silver with an Imola Red leather interior. Suh-weet. My devious plan was falling nicely into place.
See, I suspected these guys wouldn't really like the car, but I'd made up my mind when I drove one last summer at Road America in Wisconsin. Here was a car edgy as heck, difficult to drive, stink-fast, and as tail-happy as a puppy in a dog biscuit factory. I was instantly infatuated. Funny thing is, the rest of the guys haven't been so easily swayed. In fact, they seem downright disappointed.
What's not to like? Despite my personal enthusiasm, I can remain objective and empathize with my panty-waist colleagues. For one, modern BMW styling remains a fairly divisive force. I can't say I really liked the Z4 when it came out, but-like nearly every other new BMW-its looks have grown on me. Here in particular is where the hard top adds a lot to the equation, tying the rear end to the windscreen in a dynamically sensual swoop that interfaces ideally with the sharp edges along the car's sides and flanks. Still, it seems to remain a sore spot with a lot of other people.
The real complaints around the office start with a lack of headroom. At an even six feet, I'm taller than your average human being, but I have plenty of room for my noggin. I suppose my legs and torso must just be perfectly proportioned for this car. Space within the cockpit is at a premium, though. And rearward visibility is admittedly poor with those broad flanks and abbreviated rear window.
Another complaint (mainly from the old dudes) is its overall stiffness. The suspension is about as rigid as you'll experience in any production street car. Then again, it is an M. Depending on pavement quality, driving the M Coupe can be a literal pain in the ass (and back). But temper this with the fact that body roll and suspension lean are pretty much nonexistent. This car was born to carve canyon roads into little ribbons. Certain guys around the office have intimated that they'd like to install softer dampers, as on Bidrawn's project E46 M3. I've got only one thing to say: over my cold, dead body.
I think the main problem most people have is that the car is not that easy to drive smoothly-at least initially. This is one aspect that, in my view, defines its personality. After my first drive, I likened the experience to wrestling a wild animal. The controls are heavy and deliberate, the clutch ponderous in that typical M Technik way. It's got 330 hp in a chassis a couple hundred pounds lighter than the M3, and a marked inclination toward tail-out action. If you've got the brass, it's just as happy sliding sideways as launching in a straight line. Definitely a handful, but I've had a lot of fun honing my skills. Learning to master this beast has brought a sense of accomplishment I haven't had driving any other car recently.
And I guess that's the core issue. A frightening number of modern cars are so utterly lacking in soul and character-hell, a lot of them dang near drive themselves. The M exudes personality, fairly drips with it.
Once you get used to the inputs, it becomes your cohort, your partner in speed-the perfect escape pod for fleeing a dull, gridlocked commuter's existence.
It's good value too, as far as sports cars go. The inevitable comparison will be to Porsche's Cayman. Most people I've talked to are convinced the Cayman S is the more balanced of the two. But if it was my money, I know which one I'd choose. The M is more powerful, runs to 60 mph from standstill two-tenths of a second quicker, and it costs about $8,000 less, base. No joke. The M also comes with things conspicuously absent on the Cayman S, like a limited-slip differential. And I'm not so convinced the Porsche is faster simply because it's mid-engined. Get a guy who knows what he's doing behind the wheel of the M, and it'll be just as fast. If not faster.
I'm betting on faster. But that's just me.
2007 BMW Z4 M Coupe
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
3.2-liter in-line six, dohc, 24-valve
Peak Power: 330 hp @ 7900 rpmPeak Torque: 262 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm0-60 mph: 4.9 sec.Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)Fuel Economy: 16 city/24 hwy
Base Price: $50,100
Price as Equipped: $57,500
Options: Titanium Silver Metallic paint: $475; Premium Package: $2,850; heated front seats: $500; navigation system: $1,800