Tracing its design heritage back to the storied BMW Z8 (itself an evocation of the milestone BMW 507 of the 1950s), the new 2012 BMW Z4 two-seat Roadster fulfills the mandate of every premium roadster: To surround you in absolute comfort while delivering the ride of your life. This year, the Z4 lineup matches precise handling, robust power and supreme luxury with exceptional efficiency, thanks to the addition of an all-new TwinPower turbo inline four-cylinder base.
BMW offers the Z4 in three trim levels: the Z4 sDrive28i (MSRP $48,650), Z4 sDrive35i (MSRP $55,150), and Z4 sDrive35is (MSRP $64,200). In the Z4 model names, “s” stands for “sport,” and “i" indicates a fuel-injected engine.
As noted, the big news for 2012 is the introduction of the new Z4 sDrive28i, the foundation of the Z4 family. In the Z4 sDrive28i, the normally aspirated inline six-cylinder found in last year’s Z4 sDrive30i is replaced by a new inline-four, displacing 2.0 liters and featuring direct injection, Valvetronic turbo variable intake control and a TwinScroll turbo.
The new TwinPower turbo four cranks out 240 hp and 260 lb/ft of torque—40 lb/ft more than last year’s six-cylinder. Best of all, that abundance of torque reaches its peak at a low 1,250 rpm, good for near-instantaneous acceleration. Power channels through either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission. Sprints from 0-60 mph take 5.5 seconds (with the manual transmission), and fuel economy, EPA-estimated at up to 34 mpg highway, is improved by up to 20 percent over the Z4 sDrive30i.
The source of power for the Z4 sDrive35i continues to be the renowned 3.0-liter TwinPower turbo inline six-cylinder, making 300 hp and 300 lb/ft of torque in this application. The dynamic Z4 sDrive35is model draws strength from a 335-hp version of the same powerplant. Drop the hammer on the Z4 sDrive35is and an electronically controlled overboost function temporarily raises torque from its usual 332 lb/ft peak to 369 lb/ft. The result: Bolting from a standstill to 60 mph in less than five seconds.
A six-speed manual transmission serves as the standard gearbox on the Z4 sDrive35i while an advanced seven-speed, Double-Clutch automatic transmission (optional on the Z4 sDrive35i) sourced from the BMW M3 heightens performance in the Z4 sDrive35is. Shifts with the seven-speed automatic are breathtakingly swift, while manual control is available through the gear selector lever on the center console, or via paddles mounted on the steering wheel.
Straight-line propulsion may capture headlines, but a true Roadster earns its stripes slicing through twisting tarmac. A fully independent suspension, four-wheel anti-lock ventilated disc brakes, and speed-sensitive Electric Power Steering help make the Z4 the perfect implement for precise road carving—as do such standard aids such as traction control, Cornering Brake Control, Driving Dynamics Control, and Dynamic Stability Control.
For drivers looking to explore the razor’s edge of premium Roadster performance, the Z4 offers the M Sport Package on the Z4 sDrive28i and the Z4 sDrive35i. It’s a gathering of features designed to push the level of driving excitement squarely into the red (most of these features come standard on the sDrive35is). The package includes an Aerodynamic Kit, sport seats, special interior trim, an anthracite headliner, and 18-inch light-alloy wheels (19-inch light-alloys are also available on the Z4 sDrive35i and Z4 sDrive35is). An M Sport leather-trimmed steering wheel is also added, along with an Adaptive M Suspension with electronically controlled dampers and an increased top-speed limiter (up to 155 mph).
At the touch of a button, the Z4 hardtop roof completely retracts in 20 seconds, unveiling the bounty of standard features you’ll find inside. The Z4 sDrive28i brims with such must-haves as Xenon Adaptive Headlights and rain-sensing windshield wipers, Bluetooth® phone connectivity, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, HD Radio, an auxiliary jack, and an iPod®/USB adapter.
Choosing the Z4 sDrive35i nets you additional standards such as eight-way power seats, Kansas Leather seating and Brushed Aluminum interior trim, while the top-of-the-line Z4 sDrive35is boasts 10-way power seats with adjustable side bolsters and the Aluminum Carbon Shadow trim.
Buyers intending to personalize their Z4 models have a host of available packages and stand-alone options to select from. Depending on the model, the choices include a surround sound audio system, heated front seats and steering wheel, satellite radio, BMW Assist™, and a satellite-based navigation system with a pop-up 8.8-inch high-resolution display.
Come experience the exhilaration of driving in its most liberating form by scheduling a test drive of the new 2012 BMW Z4 Roadster.