BMW Z3 and Z4 Retro Review: Celebrating Roadsters and Clone Shoes – Autoblog -Dlight News

BMW Z3 and Z4 Retro Review: Celebrating Roadsters and Clone Shoes - Autoblog

MIAMI — Look, as much as I enjoyed driving the updated 2023 BMW Z4, I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s just as nimble and nimble as the original Z3 that stole our hearts in the 1990s. Today’s Z4 is a fine and perfectly capable car, but it has more of a luxury grand tourer vibe than a full-on sports car. It’s also a niche player in a dying segment, and frankly, if BMW hadn’t been able to share development costs with Toyota (hey there, supra), there wouldn’t be a new Z4 at all. So since the future of the Z4 is a bit bleak – did I mention BMW only sold 1,567 of them last year? – Let’s shed some light on his ancient past. And what better way to do so than by driving a handful of holy-smoking-it-is-no-pristine examples from BMW’s private collection? From Z3s to Z4s to M Coupes and beyond, this Bavarian greatest hits catalog proves that BMW has one hell of a small two-seater. BMW Z3 1.9 Action Front Three Quarter Open Fullscreen Closed Fullscreen

The BMW Z3 was an instant hit
The original E36/7 Z3 made a cameo in the 1995 James Bond film “Goldeneye” (although it should have been in a Nintendo 64 game, too, just saying), and for many it was love at first sight. . There was strong initial demand with around 15,000 orders by the time it actually went on sale. Personally, this generation Z3 is my favorite till date. And fun fact: It was the first BMW to be produced exclusively outside of Germany – in South Carolina, no less. Four- and six-cylinder powertrain options were offered, with four-speed automatic and five-speed manual transmissions. Combined with the classic front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, this made the Z3 a spry and tossable roadster—a sort of more luxurious take on the Mazda MX-5 Miata. One of the earliest roadsters BMW has in its collection is the green-over-tan Z3 1.9, which makes a modest 138 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque. This was the engine that launched the Z3, and it’s not exactly well-liked, mostly because it’s not as powerful or smooth as the straight-six options. Still, the Z3 1.9 has a high-gain nature that makes it unexpectedly fun. Less weight on the front end is also a good thing. In 1999, the Z3 received a mid-cycle update, most notably a curvier rear end with L-shaped taillights. But the best new option for 2000 was the 3.0-liter naturally aspirated I6 engine, which offered 228 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque (an upgrade over the outgoing 2.8-liter’s 189 hp and 203 lb-ft). BMW has one of these in its fleet, complete with a five-speed manual transmission, and this Z3 is total pitch. Smooth power delivery, plenty of low-end torque and crisp shifts – once you get used to the clutch’s super high take-up point – make it a car you can’t help but adore. Had BMW not brought an M variant to this test drive, the Z3 3.0i would have been my favourite. Rewarding steering, perfect arm-on-the-door beltline height, a sweet engine … I could go on forever. BMW M Coupe in Laguna Seca Blue Action Profile Fullscreen Close Open Fullscreen

But then came the ‘clone shoe’: meet the BMW Z3 Coupe
I truly believe that the BMW Z3 Coupe is one of the most iconic and best designs of the turn of the millennium. As such, it is with the Audi TT. The shooting brake-style hatchback is perfect, and it really exaggerates the Z3’s generous dash-to-axle ratio. And those hips. those hips. Seriously, there isn’t a single bad angle. The Z3 Coupe is said to have been born from the brains of a group of engineers who worked on the project outside of normal business hours, so three cheers for those nerds. Crucially, the hatchback’s added structural rigidity made the Z3 Coupe nearly three times stiffer than the Z3 Roadster, and you can really feel the difference on the road. Where the Z3 occasionally feels soft, the coupe snaps it into line. You can get the Z3 Coupe with the same 2.8-liter and 3.0-liter inline-six engines as the Roadster, and while the car is plenty desirable, it’s hard to ignore the allure of the more powerful M Coupe (“Z3” wasn’t officially part of the name. ). Based on the M Roadster that debuted in 1998, the M Coupe initially used BMW’s 240-hp 3.2-liter S52 inline-six engine, but for its final years (2001 and 2002) it borrowed the upgraded S54 3.2-liter inline-six. . The just-introduced E46 M3 boosts output to 315 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. I decided going into this test drive that if I couldn’t easily secure some time in the M coupe, I’d have to kneecap one of the other journalists. This isn’t just the best version of the Z3, it’s my favorite BMW ever built. I could drive this Laguna Seca Blue M Coupe every day for the rest of my life and be happy as a clam. Sometimes it’s okay to meet your hero. Florida’s straight, boring-as-hell roads don’t do the M coupe justice. This car begs for tight turns and high-revving corner exits. But at the same time, it’s perfectly happy to just cruise in fifth gear … uh, not the posted speed limit. It also has a cup holder that fits Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee. Try that in another early 2000s German sports car. Open fullscreen Close fullscreen

Z3 was followed by Z4
The original E85 Z4 produced from 2002 to 2008 is straight out of the love/hate Chris Bangle era of BMW design, and if I’m honest, I think it’s aged horribly. Some specs look better than others, of course – the Z4 M Coupe is the clear brilliance – but this car just doesn’t do it for me aesthetically. No, not even with the cool Z-shaped creases on the sides. BMW sold the four-cylinder Z4 outside the United States, but here, we only got the 2.5-liter and 3.0-liter inline-six engines, with automatic or manual transmissions, as well as the later goddamn six-speed SMG automated manual. The most powerful non-M model year was the Z4 3.0si introduced for 2006, with 261 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque, while the now-officially-named Z4 M Roadster and Z4 M Coupe used the 3.2. liter inline-six with 338 hp and 269 lb-ft. Notable features of the original Z4 include a flip-up infotainment screen with built-in navigation, part of BMW’s initial iDrive infotainment suite. And due to the success of the Z3 coupe, a Z4 coupe was in the cards with a more exaggerated sloping hatchback and double-bubble roof. The E85 Z4 is a much bigger car than the Z3 and you can feel it from behind the wheel. It also features a more modern multilink rear suspension adapted from the 2000-era E46 3 Series, compared to the Z3’s semi-rear design borrowed from the 1980-era E30 3 Series. An aluminum hood and magnesium roof frame were used to reduce weight. The Z4 was also the first BMW roadster to get things like electronic power steering and variable valve timing engine technology, although M variants continued to use the old hydraulic steering setup for better communication and more direct response. BMW Z4 sDrive35 Action Front Three Quarter BMW Z4 sDrive35 Action Front Three Quarter BMW Z4 sDrive35 Action Profile BMW Z4 sDrive35 Action Rear Three Quarter Open Fullscreen Closed Fullscreen

The next BMW Z4 was even better
I think everyone forgets about the E89-generation Z4 (2008 to 2016), but I think I can see why. There was no M version, and because this Z4 had a power-folding hardtop, there was never a proper coupe. I think the car still looks great, but it doesn’t stand out in the same way as the Z3 and the original Z4 – even in bright colors. BMW offered everything from a 2.0-liter turbo inline-four engine with stop/start to more powerful naturally aspirated inline-six models. But the version the company brought to drive in Miami was the latter, the 2011 Z4 sDrive35is – yes, that’s when we started using the washing machine naming system – which was the closest thing BMW had made to the Z4 M for this generation. In the ’35s, a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six made 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, but was mated only to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. sad trombone. All that torque arrived super low, from just 1,500 rpm, allowing the 35is to accelerate to 60 mph in a BMW-estimated 4.8 seconds. I love driving this car, but not as much as its predecessor. This DCT really shows how far these transmissions have come over the past decade or so. The Z4 35is can be a little jerky when initially engaging first gear, and you’ll experience frequent up- and downshifts at speed. At least the chassis is nice, and why wouldn’t it be, this Z4 shares its bones with the E82 1 Series and the E92 3 Series, both of which are great cars. 2023 BMW Z4 M40i Action Front Three Quarter Open Fullscreen Close Fullscreen

Which brings us to the 2023 BMW Z4
The new Z4 should really feel like the culmination of everything BMW has learned during its decades of roadster (and coupe!) production, but it isn’t. Again, that’s not to say the Z4 is a bad car, it’s just … different. The Z4 still has plenty of wave left. A strong turbocharged engine and ultra-nice interior make this roadster a real pleasure to drive. And more than any of its predecessors, this Z4 feels like a car you can actually use every day, rather than another car you only take out on the weekends. Will BMW customers respond better to a more focused Z4 like the old Z3? maybe. But honestly, probably not. So I guess it’s a good thing that the used car market is rife with great examples of BMW’s previous Zs. Which reminds me, I have evergreen clown shoes to find.

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