2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 15:44
The fans of Bavarian roadster art were shocked when BMW showed the first photos of the new Z4. With its folding roof, the two-seater breaks with well-known BMW traditions. The new Regensburg native shows his strengths in wintry Lapland.
By Stefan Grundhoff
The BMW Z4 celebrated its official world premiere at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Inside the Cobo Hall exhibition center, however, it is pleasantly warm. Here a roadster does not need a cloth cap or an aluminum roof. But especially with the cool temperatures in Motor City on the border with Canada, the new Z4 could shine in itself. However, because the new BMW Z4 was not even a meter outside the comfortably air-conditioned exhibition halls at its world premiere, the BMW development teams are currently doing the final test laps with the almost finished prototypes in Lapland. It's about the finishing touches before the new Z4 hits global markets in May. The aluminum folding roof, noise level, control systems and seals in particular are on the daily test program.
After temperatures fell just a little below zero for a long time in December, the Finnish Arctic Circle has finally got colder. Here the new roof construction can show what it can do. Because for the first time a BMW roadster is on the road without a fabric roof. "We had the prototypes with both roof versions in testing for as long as possible," reports developer Heinz Krusche, who has been responsible for driving dynamics at BMW for years, "but at some point the decision was made in favor of the retractable roof."
So out of the thick winter jackets and into the narrow-cut interior of the roadster. The shelf behind the comfortable sports seats is small. Therefore, you should not just pack voluminous down outerwear in the 180 to 310 liter trunk. There is a ski through-loading facility on request. But in spite of the lush snow conditions, today we won't go on the slopes; the boards stay at home.
Open only when standing
The interior with high-quality controls, clear fittings and the very successful center console immediately catches the eye. The predecessor couldn't exactly shine here. The most important functions can be operated via the good iDrive system.
But after a few hundred meters the first slip. Despite driving slowly, the fully electric aluminum roof cannot be opened. However, this is not due to winter outside temperatures or the comfortably quickly heated interior, but to an unnecessary safety device. With the new Z4, BMW only allows the aluminum roof to be opened and closed when the vehicle is stationary. That is bitter - not so much in the Finnish winter as in the everyday summer business between Leopoldstrasse and Elbchaussee. The appropriate processing time of 20 seconds does not hide this.
Stable room climate
Nevertheless, Z4 project manager Werner Kleeberger never tires of emphasizing the advantages of the retractable roof: “The indoor climate remains stable. With a fabric roof, on the other hand, the impression of moisture can sometimes appear in winter. " After the presentation of the Mercedes SLK in 1996, the retractable roof began its triumphant advance and has long enjoyed great popularity worldwide. With the mix of convertibles and coupé, many customers appreciate not only the subjective safety, but also the greater suitability for winter use and the lower insurance premiums.
One advantage of the new roof construction are the larger glass surfaces and the narrower pillars all around. However, the aluminum folding roof of the BMW roadster now produced in Regensburg does not make a really quiet impression. On the contrary: In the prototype, the road and road noise clearly penetrate the interior via the C-pillar and heated rear window.
More steering precision
Although the BMW executives proclaimed the opposite when the predecessor was introduced in 2003, the Bavarian marketing executives now praise the folding roof. "BMW deliberately opted for a roof made of aluminum shell construction for the new Z4, because a light roof - in contrast to a heavier sheet metal roof - has clear advantages in terms of a more favorable center of gravity," explains BMW spokesman Friedbert Holz.
As is typical of the brand, the advantages of the new Z4 are said to be in the driving dynamics. After just a few kilometers in the 15 centimeter extended jester, you don't want to doubt that. Despite the difficult road conditions, the 1.5-ton bolide lies splendidly on the piste, shines with a fine suspension set-up and great steering. Heinz Krusche: "We have taken up the criticism of the predecessor and given the car more comfort, more steering precision, in short, more peace and quiet."
Market launch in May
The 306 hp test model in the person of the BMW Z4 sDrive 35i, however, had problems getting its power on the icy roads around Rovaniemi. It is slippery and the traction is not the best despite the winter tires with good grip. Despite the undisputed winter quality, future Z4 customers should therefore get snow chains or, better still, spikes. Since these are banned in our latitudes, another winter car is probably the better and more likely choice. In any case, the Z4, which costs at least 35,900 euros, is likely to be used as a second vehicle by most customers.
Regardless of the roof structure and engine. For the market launch in May, three in-line six-cylinders from 204 to 306 hp will be available. A particularly efficient four-cylinder with around 170 hp is to follow as well as the obligatory M version, which is expected in 2010. All models have variable valve control, direct petrol injection, brake energy recovery, gearshift point display and optimized aerodynamics. The splendidly tuned seven-speed sports automatic transmission made a particularly successful impression during the test drives. Thanks to the double clutch, it enables shifting without interrupting tractive power. Friedbert Holz: “The new seven-speed sports automatic with dual clutch transmission has the same basis as the DKG on the M3 models, is almost identical in construction and comes from the same supplier - Getrag.“Next spring can come.