With the latest Z4 revisions, BMW has set out to build the truly great roadster that everyone knows it has in it.
Whether that feat has been achieved will depend on what your definition of a truly great roadster is.
BMW’s effort certainly has a unique quality and is beautifully engineered throughout.
The adoption of a cutting-edge twin-turbo four-cylinder engine for the sDrive28i has a lot to be said for it and there can be few better companions at this price given the right road and the right weather.
The 2.0-litre twin-turbo engine in the sDrive28i has 245bhp, enough to get the Z4 to 62mph in 5.6s – actually two-tenths quicker than the outgoing 3.0-litre car.
It will hit BMW’s 155mph speed limiter as well. It says something for the capability we’ve come to expect from modern performance cars that this doesn’t sound massively quick but out on the road the Z4 sDrive28i owner should find it gratifying enough.
The engine design features twin-scroll turbocharger technology, high-precision direct fuel injection, VALVETRONIC variable valve control and double-VANOS camshaft control previously only seen in six-cylinder BMWs.
Unsurprisingly, the turbo “four’’ is quite different in character to the naturally-aspirated “six’’ of the sDrive30i, with much more pulling power at low to medium revs but less urgency at the top end.
As a result, its performance feels more effortless – belying the litre shortfall in swept volume – but less exhilarating, too.
List prices suggest that, allowing for a few well-chosen extras, you’ll probably be paying somewhere in the £30,000 to £45,000 bracket for your Z4, the same kind of money Mercedes will ask of you for a comparable SLK but slightly more than you’d pay for a fabric-topped Audi TT Roadster.
Whether you choose the four cylinder sDrive 20i, the sDrive 28i we’re looking at here, or opt for the sDrive 35i or sDrive 35is six cylinder models, equipment levels offer just about everything you could want at this price point.
Alloy wheels, stability control, dual-zone air conditioning, power for windows and mirrors, the usual full complement of six airbags, plus beady xenon headlamps have been joined by the inevitable boasting Bluetooth and USB audio interface for this latest refresh. BMW has also introduced the “Design Pure Balance” equipment pack that features extended Merino leather in Cohiba Brown and Black, Lotus White stitching, anthracite wood and standard sports seats.
There’s also an M Sport package that includes the usual racy styling modifications.
The Z4 is a great looking car and it manages to integrate a folding hard-top roof with little discernable impact on that styling or its driving dynamics.
In sDrive28i form, it has a great engine too, with oodles of accessible thrust from modest revs.
The merits of the driving experience are less clear cut but if it’s excitement you crave, there will be little cause for complaint with this roadster.