About four years ago when I first moved away from my hometown of Portland, Oregon to pursue my photography career in sunny Southern California, I knew I was in for a big culture shock. By now, I've adjusted pretty well and I love it here. However, there are still a few things about Los Angeles that I really don't like. One of my biggest gripes about this city is the way that some people around here rely so heavily on status symbols to inflate their sense of self-worth. When I look around the streets of Venice and Santa Monica where I live, I see a lot of very nice and very expensive cars. Most of these cars are dirty, neglected, scratched up, and driven by people who don't really even appreciate what they have and what it's capable of doing when driven properly, which is incredibly ironic.
My perspective is a little different. As a journalist, I try to appreciate any given car for what it is. I have driven and tested many different types of cars, ranging from mild to wild, boring to bling. Most of what we do at Super Street is related to Japanese cars, so you may be wondering why this 2013 BMW Z4 sDrive28i is gracing our pages. The answer is slightly convoluted; I was one of the winners of a photography contest some time ago, and this car was loaned to me for one week as my prize to photograph as I see fit. This was good news to me because not only do I get a cool car to shoot for a week, I get to drive it as well. Even though the Z4 is a pretty far cry from what most Super Street readers would probably consider purchasing, I thought it would also be a good opportunity to let you all know that despite what your first impressions might be, it's actually a really good driver's car and shouldn't be written off without a closer look.
The first thing you notice about the Z4 is that the design is fantastic. As you walk around and take it in, you'll be hard pressed to find an angle where it doesn't look great (top up or down). The bodylines are well thought out, and the long nose design gives the car an aggressive stature. The yellow color on my loaner is hit or miss, but it does make the car stand out form the crowd at the very least. 17-inch 5-spoke alloys fill the fender wells nicely, and give a sleek yet understated look. The Z4 is not gaudy; even in yellow, it's not offensive or obtrusive visually.
BMW has not made a lot of major changes in the interior department lately, however the feel of the Z4 inside is still nice and modern. BMW classic styling is present, but it's been tweaked and refined over the years into what really works both visually and ergonomically. I'm not crazy about the yellow trim, but then again it isn't too glaring either. The car is small, but my 6'1" frame fits just fine for cruising. Just don't expect to bring a lot of stuff with you if you go anywhere in the Z4. The trunk is small, and if you want to put the roof down you'll need to remove almost everything from the back in order for it to close. And in all honesty, a car like this needs to have the roof down. After all, what fun is a convertible if you don't get to feel the wind in your hair?
When it comes to actually driving the Z4, the experience is very rewarding. My loaner is the sDrive28i model, a slightly misleading name. This car is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, not a 2.8-liter inine-6 as you might expect from the badging. This motor is good though, albeit slightly underpowered for a car with this much weight. The Z4 tips the scales at just over 3200 lbs so it's not a light car for it's dimensional size. The full 260-foot pounds of torque kicks in by 1250rpm, so the Z4 has plenty of scoot off the line. It falls off a bit towards redline, but this isn't the kind of car that you really wring out that far anyway. It's more of a cruiser, designed to be comfortable and "sporty," but not rough or race inspired. This is a drop top roadster for people who want to have fun, but not get beat up by their own car.
After a week with the Z4, I found myself asking the big question that gets asked at the end of every car loan period; Would I buy this car? Some of you may know that I tend to go for either total practicality or total sport; I don't often like cars in the middle range of anything. But surprising as it may sound, I have to say "yes," I could see myself buying this car. That would depend heavily on what my lifestyle was though. For under $50,000 you get a very nimble and capable roadster, something that is as at home on the twisty mountain roads as it is on the posh streets of Beverly Hills. Of course you won't want to own this as your only car, but it's really a good value for a non-utilitarian based driver's car. It's fun, quick, and good to look at. It's also comfortable and a nice car to be seen in. As much as I hate to say it, I kind of understand now why people like cars as status symbols. You feel cool in this car, plain and simple. There's even a bit of aftermarket support if you decide to push the boundaries a bit, although I personally don't see the need.
Also, chicks dig it. So there's that.
That New Car Smell
The Sticker Pricing from MSRP $47,350
Engine 2.0-liter DOHC turbocharged direct injection inline-4
Transmission 6-speed manual
The Power 240hp at 5000rpm; 260 lb-ft at 1250rpm
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel-drive
Wheels & Tires 17" alloy wheels with 225/45R17 tires