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Disadvantages: Helps running costs if you’ve got an oil well in the bottom of your garden, cumbersome clutch and lethargic gear change, jarring ride, cabin not recommended if you suffer from claustrophobia, microscopic boot space, pricey, quirky.
Summary: Designed with more conservatism in mind than the original M Sport coupe - which critics compared to a bread van – the new BMW Z4M is far less radical than its ancestor in terms of visual stimuli. Of course, scratch the surface and there’s no mistaking the self same exocet missile-pegging performance of yore, only you might rattle your dentures from their permanent moorings care of the suspect ride quality. Which is nothing if not challenging on those without an ample covering. The BMW Z4M is unfortunately not the driver’s car it could and should have been, and is perhaps one for the die-hards out there.
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Having taken on board the views of the automotive fashionista who expressed dismay at the original BMW M Sport coupe’s immediate kerb appeal – and the small fact that the German car manufacturer only managed to flog 609 models of it here in the UK – everyone’s favourite Bavarians have turned down the contrast button and toned down the overall ‘Ow’ factor of its latest iteration. That’s not to say they’ve exercised the same right in the power department before you navigate to another page.
With a 3.2-litre power plant pulsating a useful 343bhp through the core components of the new Z4M, those with a long memory might see this as another concession to the masses. But remember this; given that the coupe/roadster is constructed from materials weighing little more than balsawood means that it’s sling-shot toward 62mph in a whisker under 5 seconds. And don’t passers by know it, as hands clasped to ears they attempt to block out that unique BMW M Sport soundtrack that they’ve been conspiring to perfect for decades.
And all this is minus the elbow-grease provided by a turbo or supercharger we hasten to add. Top speed is limited to 155mph for health and safety reasons, yet its pound-for-pound performance puts the Z4M on an even keel with the considerably more expensive Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG.
Sadly all this riotous behaviour beneath the bonnet makes trips to the fuel pumps feel like a Groundhog Day scenario; with 23mpg not exactly screaming economy at you. Plus you’ll win no friends over at Greenpeace either, with CO2 emission standing at an unhealthy and unrepentant 292g/km.
As its form and poise alludes, the BMW Z4M is best suited to the trials and tribulation of B-road frolicking, which on introduction to will awaken the driver’s pleasure receptors. So long as they side-step deviations in the road that amount to anything more than some well visited road kill, as the rigidly stiffened suspension deadens the feeling in just about every muscle and joint. An unforgiving clutch mechanism and in precise gear change takes the shine off hammering the corners, whilst deploying the ‘sport’ mode just heightens the ride and comfort issues.
The trade-off for all this aggravation comes in the welcome guise of grip. Of which there are infinite amounts should you persevere and throw caution and lifeless limbs into every hairpin that presents itself. Thanks to the hardened ride the body roll encountered is minimal too.
Driver’s will have to be on at least first name terms with their sole passenger in the Z4M, as the strictly two-seat interior is an intimate surround in which to find yourself. Courtesy of the near bone-crunching ride, any semblance of creature comforts in the cabin goes unappreciated as both occupants put their chiropractor on speed dial. A distinct lack of lumbar support and height adjustment on the seats makes the journey for taller passengers even more thankless.
Once you’re shoe-horned in there though the Z4M interior is both distinctive and contemporary, without feeling the need to be achingly hip. The driving position is sporty - in spite of being uncomfortable on long sorties – yet causes vision and associated judgment problems when negotiating car parks and other tight spaces due to your low sprung view of the world around you. Build quality is excellent, whilst switchgear is formally laid out and easily get-at-able.
The BMW Z4M comes with M Sport suspension, Dynamic Stability Control, Hill Start Assist, rain sensors, automatic headlight, M Sports styling, four airbags, leather, auto air-con, multi-function steering wheel and on-board computer as standard. Naturally being BMW the options list is still pretty lengthy and covers items found as standard in some superminis these days; like rear parking sensors, cruise, heated seats, sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity.
Buyers will be prepared to pay you a premium to take the BMW Z4M off your hands a few years down the road, such is their exclusivity and timeless appeal amongst M Sport fans.
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