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BMW Z4

The classic roadster, as interpreted by BMW.

The Z4 roadster was the first BMW to drop its in-line six-cylinder engine for a four-cylinder turbo, spurred by a quest for better fuel economy. It’s a big deal for BMW, a car company that has made its name with straight-six engines. The fact that the new 2.0-liter four is a good engine makes this change a bit easier to swallow. With it, the 28i is able to race to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds (with the eight-speed automatic). The automatic is a no-charge option over the six-speed manual, which has fluid shift action through its long throws. This engine doesn’t just make the numbers, it makes the right noises, with a sharp bark overlaid with the whoosh of its turbocharger. Still, we’re glad a straight six remains available. The 35i gets a 300-hp turbo version and a choice of a stick shift or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The racier 35is is an M Roadster in all but name. Its turbo six bumps the output to 335 hp and comes only with the dual-clutch transmission. However, many of the 35is goodies — the Adaptive M suspension with driver-selectable modes, the eighteen-inch wheels, the aero body kit, and the sport seats — are available on the two other models. Unfortunately, one thing the switch to a four-cylinder engine has not done is make the Z4 any more affordable.

COMPETITORS

Audi TT

Mercedes-Benz SLK

Nissan 370Z

Porsche Boxster

new for 2013

The Z4 gets additional standard equipment for 2013. All models now have power seats and dual-zone automatic A/C. The 35i gets sport seats. The 35is adds BMW Assist and a premium audio system.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front and side air bags, ABS, traction and stability control, a tire-pressure monitor, and adaptive xenon headlamps are standard. BMW Assist with automated crash response is optional.

MPG

CITY 17–19

HWY 24–26

PRO

Classic roadster proportions

All three versions are quick

Nice interior

CON

Small trunk, even smaller with top down

No manual for the 35is

Base Price Range: $50,500–$66,000 (est.)

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Rear-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: sDrive28i, sDrive35i, sDrive35is

BODY STYLE: Convertible, 2-passenger

ENGINES: 2.0L turbo I-4, 240 hp, 258 lb-ft

3.0L twin-turbo I-6, 300/335 hp, 300/332 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 7- or 8-speed automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: N/A

CARGO SPACE: (top up) 8.0 cu ft

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