Test drove a Z4 2.5 (long)
A friend of mine and me went and test drove a 2.5 liter Z4 at lunch today. I was interested in the performance of this car as Iíve heard nothing but good things about it. We were hoping to find a 3 liter with a 6 speed but they didn't have any (nor did they have any cooper S's...6 month wait for those damn things)!
2003 Z4 2.5
I was a bit skeptical about the performance of this car with this configuration and with my current car being a 330. However, to my surprise, the 2.5 liter was very energetic and had more than enough pep to be a great car to drive. From a stand still it seemed very quick and I was chirping tires easily in 2nd and 3rd.
The exhaust note was top notch. Very deep grunting sound, a lot more so than my 330 but that could be due to it being a convertible (hear more outside noise, closer to the tailpipe, etc.). The engine sound was very cool, made a whining sort of jet engine sound when it was really pushed. The only downside to the 2.5 liter is when you are rolling and then you punch it. I kept waiting for the car to push me back in my seat on these occasion but it never did, not like it did from standstill.
This car drives like its on rails! We hit this one corner over and over again (warning sign said 30, we maxed out at about 65 before we chickened out), each time going faster and the car was so stable, still gives me chills. This was all achieved on the stock 16in rims with run-flats. Iíd love to see this car in the 3 liter, 6spd version with the 17in rimsÖI bet itís amazing.
I also think the Z4 would run circles around my 330 in the corners; then again, I have some old crappy tires. The car was very light and VERY tossible but in a good, ďI just started driving this car but look how much control I haveĒ sort of way. My friend had never driven a RWD car before and he was easily breaking the tail out around a corner while being able to control it with minimal effort. Sounds like BMW got this part right! Oh, he couldnít believe how intrusive DSC is. I always tell him about it and I think he finally understands. With Audiís traction control, you hardly notice that itís there.
The steering was very precise and responsive. I always felt in total control and had all kinds of confidence driving this car. Itís really hard to explain how it felt, put it this way, it felt very, VERY good. I think the best way to describe it was my friend saying, ďman, you just point this thing and it goes there.Ē
The interior I thought was fantastic, very comfortable and techie and it was good contrast from the exterior (more on that later). My friend drives a TT and he enjoyed the interior as well (that says a lot to me as the TT has one of the best interiors out there), just felt really good being in that car. The only thing I didnít like with the curvy designs is that they took away some leg room and we both felt a little bit cramped (Iím 5í11Ē). The front to back leg room was fine; side to side however, it felt a little tight. Also, the interior pieces were hard and when we started flying around the corners, it hurt when you hit those things. I noticed BMW has some purposely placed pads in certain locations to compensate for this.
The leatherette was a bit weird. It was sort of bumpy but very sticky. I didnít think it was leatherette but my friend swears buy it, I should have looked on the sticker.
I love the new look of the gauges. BMW seems to be using this new style on all the new cars and I really like it. Controls are positioned pretty well but some of them seem to be a tad out of reach (DSC for one, although, that may be by design). The window controls were a bit difficult to use. I think they were on a piece of metal that was sloping away from you. They were pretty low on the door also so it was somewhat dangerous to look down to find them and adjust the windows. However, after driving the car for a while, I bet you could find them easily. The best part about the interior was the steering wheel. It was small but not race car small and it felt really great. It was beefier than the one in my car but not as beefy as an M3.
Iím not really going to say much about the exterior except that itís ugly. Itís a shame that such a fantastic car has the hindrance of its exterior. Every part of the car is fantastic except for the outside. Bigger rims would aid the visuals of the car but it would take a lot more than that to make me buy one. Finally, I think itís absolutely horrible of BMW to not provide fog lights standard and when they arenít on the car, rather than put a new front piece on that doesnít have holes for the fogs, they just put a ďcapĒ on the inside of the fog light holesÖthe color doesnít even match the body! Absolutely horrendous IMHO, for 36k, this thing should come with fogs and then someÖ.
Overall, this is a fantastic driverís car, one of the more thrilling cars Iíve driven and thatís with the 2.5 liter. However, you have to get in the car to be able to enjoy what it can do and in order to do that, you have to look at the exterior. IMHO the only downside (and downfall for me) of this car is the exterior, oh wait, the $36K price tag that came with it wasnít too pleasing either. I think that paying this much for a car should constitute many more things being included in the car. I paid a bit more for my car and it had all kinds of goodies not to mention a back seat and trunk to boot.
Despite the exterior, BMW got it right when it comes to the performance department. If I were looking to buy a roadster, this car would be at the top of my list however, it would be hard to look past the exterior and focus solely on the interior and the performance. Call me a poseur, but Iím not driving an ugly car.
Overall Iíd say I was extremely surprised by the drivability of this car and the 2.5 liter engine is more than adequate. I now understand why they arenít making an M version; they donít need it if the 2.5 is this quick! I would love to have gone head to head with my car to see the comparison. The Z4 is a an extremely exhilarating car to drive with only one hitch, this hitch however happens to be the part that most people will notice.