The roadster saw a rebirth in the late 90s fueled by the Germans who rediscovered a demand for fun-to-drive little 2-seat convertibles. And that harkens back to this car’s predecessor the Z3. And now 2 decades later BMW is still perfecting the top-down experience with incredible amounts of power. This is the all-new Z4 M40i.
Who wouldn’t want a little car like this in their garage for those nice weather weekends when the roads are yours and fun is on the agenda? After a 2-year hiatus, BMW has reimagined their rear-drive fun-mobile for the next generation and it doesn’t disappoint. A more powerful engine, new suspension, increased length and width – this Z4 is more dialed in than ever. And with the added muscularity afforded by a host of M chops, this M40i model is a serious performance machine. There’s still an inline 6 under the hood but replacing the twin turbos is a single twin-scroll compressor churning out 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. That kind of muscle pushing a modest 3,443 pounds means you’re going to go fast – sub-4 seconds to 60mph. That’s 8/10th’s of a second quicker than its predecessor. BMW is proud of this car’s 50:50 weight distribution and from behind the wheel the long nose is palpable. But just like a modern, $70,000 sports car should, there are a host of drive modes, suspension settings and handling features that give the Z4 a wide dynamic range – meaning you can cruise the coast in relative placidity and immediately ratchet things up to backfire level.
The M40i’s tension is palpable from behind the wheel – it wants to go – yet with 4 driving modes it’ll happily play the role of top down cruiser if you so desire. But the brakes grab so hard that if you find yourself in stop and go traffic smoothness is not on the menu.
The staggered width rubber frame some meaty discs that combine with the new 8-speed auto with fast M programming to create a car that stops very quickly, sometimes too abruptly. It can sound pretty mean too when you dial up the drive modes, unleashing its blatty soundtrack. Paddle shifting is fun but the gearbox is smart enough to handle the job on its own when driving spiritedly. There’s a launch control feature as well but it wasn’t cooperating with us on this particular day so we just floored it and kept it straight…an exhilarating experience. An electric motor in the rear automatically locks the differential when cornering hard allowing you to power out of the curves with controlled confidence.