BMW Z4 - Concession to modern times

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It has always been problematic trying to reconcile the Z4 with the rest of the BMW stable. Somehow, the Bavarian roadster stuck out like a sore thumb. As a product of the divisive Bangle era, this purist BMW has now followed the 7 series in having a makeover. All totally consistent with the new style of the marque whilst (surprisingly enough) not disowning its predecessor.

Along with the SLK and TT, the other two members of the German trio, the original Z4 was always a purist's idea of a daredevil motor. Yet the design scared off a lot of potential purchasers. Not that there was anything essentially incongruous - the proportions with long bonnet and short tail end certainly have the edge over the competition in terms of sheer aesthetics. It was rather the eccentric details such as the sagging lines of the side panels that caused a few furrowed brows. These are precisely the weaknesses that the new Z4 has ironed out. The attractive proportions have been retained and even accentuated by extra length plus width and slightly reduced height.

Auto Union D-Type Silver Arrow

Auto Union D-Type Silver Arrow



The only concession to the competition is that, like the SLK, the Z4 now sports a two-section metal retractable roof instead of the previous fabric top. Of course, this is bound to irk a few purists. But messing about with the roof has done the Z4 no harm at all. The proportions have not ballooned and the windscreen hasn't been tilted further back - neither of which would have been worthy of a true roadster.

Some room has been lost in the boot to accommodate the hard top, but hey, whoever said that a roadster had to be practical? So let's just forget the luggage debate.

The distinctive angular lines from bonnet to flanks have been retained as well as the laid-back positioning of the seats. The headlights are resplendent in the style of the other new BMW models, with the now obligatory four rings and stylised eyelid.

Homogenous light guide technology in the rear light panel, familiar from the new 7 series, has also been incorporated into the Z4. The interior looks like a logical extension of its predecessor and delights with plenty of leather and gleaming surfaces. Also the now familiar iDrive control system - not fitted in the earlier version - finds a place on the dashboard, along with a retractable display.

The elevation of the Z4, both in terms of dimensions and price bracket, now leaves room for a new smaller roadster positioned below the Z4. Perhaps with a ragtop for the purists. As is right and meet.