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A refined sports convertible the likes of the BMW Z4 could just be the answer to a lot of issues when the time comes for alternative solutions. How good is it? We put it to the test.

BMW Z4 M40i Road Test Review

Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

 

Hitting the countryside when the rains take a break is a refreshing experience, to say the very least. The grass is greener on either side, the hills are blanketed in clouds while the crisp air heavy with moisture feels heaven-sent after the appalling levels of pollution in the city. The whole experience is positively therapeutic.

Making my way out of the confines, heads turning left, right and centering on the red two-door I’m in, while excited children point and pull out their phones to snap up the new BMW Z4 before it’s out of sight. The new Z4 roadster comes about half a decade after its predecessor made waves here in India. The old sDrive 35i was also a beautiful straight-six sports convertible with a low-slung design and compact proportions. Too compact for some and also quite thirsty. The new BMW Z4 addresses all those shortcomings and takes the game forward for the Munich marque. This comes at a time when everyone is not just downsizing but also down-speeding ― lowering overall engine speed through the gears to maintain optimum fuel efficiency and lower exhaust emissions. But, in this segment, that’s secondary. Isn’t it?

When you want a roadster, you want something that will relax you as well as turn up the excitement. To fulfil the former, it must be smooth, well-sprung and receptive. To satisfy the latter, it must be quick, sharp, and even more receptive. The solution to that, as BMW have so eloquently shown us with the M5, is properly calibrated drive modes; two cars in one. And the Z4, in this M40i guise, is just about as good as that one.

BMW Z4 M40i Road Test Review

At very first glance, the BMW Z4 looks breathtakingly brilliant. There’s a sense of maturity with a hint of bottled excitement and that triggers something within you. It just does. It’s emotive and looks like it’s been through a fair bit of life and come back refreshed and better than ever. Before we forget, yes, it was developed together with the Toyota Supra, essentially being the Boxster to its Cayman, so to speak, but they aren’t that close. The Z4 brings forward a lot of what BMW have learned over the past few years and it shows in the way it drives.

BMW Z4 M40i Road Test Review

The interior of the BMW Z4 is packed with very modern usable equipment that can and will be used every day, including the likes of a USB port and inductive wireless charging in the centre console, as well as a USB Type-C port in the arm-rest. High-quality trim, premium upholstery, contrast stitching, and a mix of lightweight trim elements show that while its solid, premium feel was a priority, its weight was higher up there. The use of buttons and knobs on the centre console speaks volumes about their practicality. Touch controls may be trending, but their ease of use doesn’t make a case for itself. That said, there is a centre touchscreen which gives easy access to a slew of vehicle functions, including Bluetooth connectivity, telephony, navigation, and media. The speaker set-up also makes itself felt. The pairing of front tweeters, side and rear loudspeakers makes for surround-sound audio performance, top up or down.

BMW Z4 M40i Road Test Review

Among the many elements that caught my eye were also a few which also triggered wide smiles. Chief among those was the M steering wheel, vastly similar to the one in the M5 with its chunky size and plush feel. The proportions of the BMW Z4, including its long bonnet with power bulges, make it easy to judge its position on the road. The cabin has more room than earlier and while there are specific storage spaces for phones, keys, and cups, the narrow door-pockets and concealed under the arm-rest can only store so much. The only saviour is the little shelf behind the seats ― remember, there are only two ― and the cargo net to keep larger objects, such as water bottles and small bags, in place. The 281-litre boot is also enough for a few larger bags, but, let’s be honest, this isn’t the car for weekend getaway for two, unless you have your butler follow you in your four-door choice of ride with a voluminous boot.

More on page 2 >

 

About the author: Jim Gorde

 

Automotive Correspondent at Bike India and Car India.
Believes that learning never stops. Loves V8 engines as much as a good breakfast.
t: @BikeIndia / @CarIndia

 

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