Words by Gugu Masuku

The original Z4 carried a shape that didn’t quite resonate with me; it looked half-baked, especially when viewed from the front. The Bavarians have continued improving on this design over the years and the latest incarnation of the roadster has called me out by name. What we now have is a vehicle that looks like a land shark; if there were such a thing, this would be it. Lean, stealthy looking and with all the right cuts and vents to give it a lethal yet sexy appearance.

The new Z4 Roadster sits close to the ground; it is wider and has a shorter wheelbase than its predecessor—the perfect ingredients for a performance roadster. On the M40i, you get the big 19-inch wheels that complete the look. Standard 18-inch wheels on the more docile sDrive20i derivative look fair on the vehicle but lack the aggressive stance given by the bigger wheels.




You can access some serious velocity and all it takes is a careless flick of your ankle


There are only two engine options to choose from here: a 20i and an M40i, which are a four- and six-cylinder respectively. I only had the opportunity to sample one of these on the day of the launch, the jacked M40i, and I knew right from the start that my entire day was about to get a whole lot more interesting. The 3.0 straight-six engine makes all the right noises to maintain peaking levels of excitement behind the wheel; you have the deep-throated cry of the six-cylinders doing what six pots do best, as well as the crackling and popping on downshifts when in the most spirited driving mode, Sport. If you time it right, you’ll get some of that savage acoustic symphony on upshift. The proven straight-six, codenamed the B58, will put out 250 kW and 500 Nm in this application; bolstered to a vehicle this size, things do get exciting. I spent the first part of my drive in the Z on stretches of the open road with an equal share of straights and long sweeping bends and got a feel for the vehicles tractability. You can access some serious velocity here, and all it takes is a careless flick of your ankle. At some point during this leg of the drive, I began longing for tighter, twisty roads with a decent amount of bends to test out the Z4’s true potential as a performance roadster. Not long after this, my wish was granted. An instruction from my driving partner to take the next right turn marked the beginning of one of the most thrilling drives I’ve had recently. I was now driving on the most ideal road for this vehicle. Easing into it, I slowly built up confidence in the car’s abilities as well as used this opportunity to build up trust in my co-driver.




So nimble and obedient is the Z4, that where you point it is precisely where it goes.



Weaving the Z4 through some tight bends, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming assuredness in its stable and firm footing on the road—and then I went for it! Going hard through the bends, I was constantly anticipating a loss in traction or some signs of understeer, but not in this car. So nimble and obedient is the Z4, that where you point it is precisely where it goes. I relished every second of the rollercoaster ride in the BMW, although the same cannot be said for my co-driver. The poor chap was literally on the edge of the slender roadster seat by the time I decided to call off the raging assault. It must be said, though, having the M40i in sports mode for this application was a bit of an overkill. In this setting, the throttle responds with an overly aggressive bite, making for a snappy car when all you’re attempting to achieve is smoothness through every transition. Eventually, I resorted to comfort to alleviate this snappiness, but I still received plenty of firepower from the B58 to get the job done.

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