Let me cut to the chase. The Z4 M Coupe is my favorite long-termer so far. I realized this about 10 minutes into the drive. The cabin is ergonomically sound, with everything within reach and easy to figure out, including the navigation system. The carbon-look leather stitching is an especially nice touch through the interior and I've absolutely fallen in love with the fat steering wheel.
For a sports car, the leather seats are plenty comfortable and my initial 200-mile drive was butt-friendly. The suspension is firmer than most would allow for a daily driver, though not stiff in the same sense as when some adjustable coilovers are at their stiffest settings, making things start to creak and rattle. This is a more solid feel, giving plenty of feedback. For me, this suspension is still bearable for highway commutes-although it's borderline.
Once I get the chance to take the car through miles of traffic-less canyon runs, however, it's a different story. With 225 and 255 tires for front and rear respectively, coupled with the 50/50 weight distribution, I've never experienced such precise handling. Maybe it's been too long since I've tossed a Ferrari around, but that's the feeling-I would never do anything to change the Coupe's handling prowess. Even with a long enough wheelbase that instills plenty of confidence around sweeping turns at high speeds (thanks to a mild understeer), the chassis' rigidity allows quick, second-gear switchbacks to be sliced through with precision. The handling is so good that it underlines a shortcoming with the seats-the lack of sufficient lateral support for the upper torso.
The best part, which is no surprise, is the world-famous S54 inline six that gives the car its soul. The cam timing from BMW's Dual Vanos system kicks in a phenomenal amount of torque at just 2000 rpm-so uncharacteristic from just 3.2 liters. Since it can also turn at 8000 rpm all day, the S54 propels the 3200-pound chassis with a magical 330 hp.
Unlike the S54 powering the E46 M3, the sound of the engine's intake above 6000 rpm is akin to the roar from a conical upgrade. Additionally, the love-or-hate 'rattling can' exhaust reverberation, signature to the E46 M3, has been tuned out to a melodious, deep vroom in the Z4 M.
Catapulting to triple-digit speeds seems as natural as Roger Federer hitting forehand winners. And with quick, precise throws of the six-speed transmission, the total package becomes a synchronized ballet-graceful yet powerful. It's a complete blast. And how I manage to get 22 mpg after all this is still beyond me.
I like the looks, as do several others, including a woman who was at least 70. She pulled alongside at a red light and gave a thumbs-up. But I wish BMW had flared the front fenders, even if that meant adding another inch or two to the width at the rear.
Come to think of it, that would look even cooler (and so would a set of 275 tires stuffed back there). Except for the quad-tip exhaust, the overall appearance looks too plain for car that wears the legendary M badge and, unlike what BMW did previously with the Z3-bodied M Coupe, just adding wheels and a bumper cover doesn't give the required visual appeal over the base-engine Z4 Coupe.
The men from Munich made this aesthetic mistake once before with the E36 M3, which displeased a number of BMW purists. That said, I'd have another go in this thing any time.
At A Glance+ interior trim, steering wheel, handling, power delivery and sound - exterior, lateral support Mileage: 15,770 Fuel economy: 22 mpg