sDrive 35i M Sport Auto
refreshingly short name
news when asked what you drive.
only right that it deserves
a succinct tag to convey its
sporting character when the
inevitable question comes up
does she go, mister?
After a week behind the wheel of
the 306bhp sDrive 35i, we decided
RFHD might be appropriate:
Right Foot Hard Down...
BECAUSE, AS IS OBVIOUS from its hunkered- down, ready-to-pounce stance, this
classic rear-wheel drive sports car from BMW is not just willing but pro-actively
eager to be driven hard.
The twin-turboed, direct injection straight-six petrol engine under the bonnet
puts out a compelling 306bhp alongside muscular low-end torque (295lb ft at
1,300rpm) accompanied by a well-matched soundtrack drive with
some brio and you'll catch yourself nodding affirmatively at the hard-edged
growl and vocal exhaust note that swells agreeably as the needle races towards
a fine powerplant; turbine smooth and lag-free, delivering its power across
a broad band and compressing the zero to 62mph sprint to a seamless 5.1-second
lunge; whatever speed you're doing, floor the accelerator and you'll feel the
torque shove you relentlessly towards the Z4's 155mph maximum.
Its a fine powerplant;
turbine smooth and
its power across a broad
band and compressing
the zero to 62mph sprint
to a seamless
The seven-speed dual-clutch sport automatic is well matched to the turboed-six
changes are smooth and come instantly whether you're in auto or
manual, or going up or down the numbers using the wheel-mounted paddle-shifters.
They're also great for dropping several gears setting up for a corner or calling
up some tactical engine braking. Reassuring to know, too, that there's automatic
downshift protection that prevents a 'wrong' gear selection in both auto and
For the Justin Biebers there's a launch control but the real fun is not 'cheating'
on the straight-line 0-62mph routine but finger-flicking up and down the 'box
using the paddles and rocketing away when you're already moving at a fair lick
and not just on the straight and narrow.
A word to the wise; whenever you do stamp the power pedal don't forget, unless
you're on a trackday jaunt, to lift off soon after or you'll quickly find yourself
flying along at near three-figure speeds after which you likely
won't be passing 'Go' any more and will, quite likely, also be paying a three-figure
The Z4 range is fresh from a facelift although you'll need to be hawk-eyed to
spot the differences styling tweaks include sharper-looking bumpers,
a sleeker grille, and a set of revised brazen-white LED headlights. At the same
time, for those enthusiasts whose aspirations are bigger than their budgets,
BMW also introduced a new entry-level Z4 the £27,735 18i.
hasn't changed is the Z4's smartly-fettled long-nose-short-tail body
the lines are the kind that you won't tire of looking at, and all the better
for the serious attention to detail and fine build quality.
sports car thats
entertaining to drive
and its rear-wheel drive
offers hands-on drivers
a lot more adjustability
than any front-wheel
model ever could
absolutely what keen
Nice too, is the underlying hint of a 'trad' sports car (squint and you can
imagine the graceful ghost of a Healey 3000 well, we could).
for those lucky enough to get the biggest Z4 bang for their bucks, a 3.0-litre
Z4 is definitely the way to go (for the record, the 306bhp 35i tested here is
the penultimate model; the range-topping 35is is even more powerful with 340bhp).
Dynamically it's a classically-configured sports car that's entertaining to
drive and its rear-wheel drive offers hands-on drivers a lot more adjustability
than any front-wheel model ever could absolutely what keen driving
You sit close to the ground and the weight distribution is a democratic 50:50
front to rear. Given its keen balance, effective grip and quick turn-in, a hardcore
driving style isn't at all necessary to have some fun. Slow or fast, it feels
agile and, punched through a snaking run of twists and turns, dynamically it
hangs together very nicely.
Drive Performance Control is standard-fit on the 35i M Sport, giving the driver
the choice between three dynamic driving modes: Comfort, Sport and Sport+. Sport
and Sport+ tighten up the Z4 (with Sport+ also giving the stability control
a time-out) when you're hard-charging the price you pay is a pretty
firm, although never harsh, ride.
Comfort, though, does swing the scale back towards the grand-tourer side of
things. Generally, so long as you avoid potholes (which, thanks to very low-pro
255/30 rubber and a sports suspension, will definitely give you a jolt), the
Z4 rides well.
quick-retracting metal roof provides a genuine all-of-a-piece coupe feel when
raised; small, electrically-operated three-quarter rear windows complete the
coupe look and ambience roof down they also contribute to a bluster-free
35i's cabin is striking likeable not only for its well-crafted
appearance and build quality, but also for the distinctive fascia with its classic-look
rotary dials and 'striped' carbon pattern brushed satin aluminium trim.
What hasnt changed
is the Z4s smartly-fettled
the lines are the kind
that you wont tire
of looking at, and all the
better for the serious
attention to detail and
fine build quality...
into the sports seat for the first time and spend a few enjoyable minutes power-adjusting
to achieve your ideal driving position: the headrests are integral and boost
shoulder support; there's ten-way seat movement; the seat front extends for
extra under-thigh support; and the seatback bolsters can be closed in or opened
out (electrically, of course) for that perfect body-hugging 'pinch'… then it's
just a press of one of the two memory buttons to save your personalised settings.
of our road-test team suffers from a seriously bad back travelling
in the equally multi-adjustable passenger seat (both seats, incidentally, also
benefit from three-stage heating) she found, even driven along twisty country
lanes, that it stopped the pain.
Roof raised, visibility out is fine, including to the rear, and placing the
wieldy, compactly-proportioned Z4 on the blacktop is never a problem. Roof-down
it's a breeze.
The large display screen serves the full infotainment package, from 3D SatNav
to audio, parking schematics, etc. It slides out and up from the fascia and
when you don't need it, just tap it and it retreats silently from whence it
Cabin kit is comprehensive and includes dual-zone climate control, powered leather
sport seats, powered metal hardtop, four one-shot windows, seat heating, powerfold
door mirrors (on demand and when locking and leaving), auto 'wipes and lites',
front and rear parking sensors, a wind deflector (fitted in seconds between
the roll-over hoops), electric park brake (and yes, it will stop the car in
an emergency), foolproof iDrive driver's interface very similar
to Audi's excellent MMI to manage features and functions via the
screen, push-button Start, auto-dim rear-view mirror, and paddle-shifters on
the multifunction M Sport wheel.
items include all the de rigueur traction and stability driver aids as well
as run-flat tyres along with protective rollover hoops and a host of airbags,
including a pair in the seat headrests specifically designed to keep you safe
in the event of a side-shunt.
Press the switch to
engage Comfort mode
and laid-back long-
distance is what the Z4
does. Even rolling
on 19-inch alloys wrapped in rubber-band
Bridgestones, the 35i
is a genial cruiser thats
relaxing at three-figure
our Z4 was delivered we were in the middle of an extended Christmas and New
Year break that had taken us on a four-wheeled round-robin visiting friends
scattered across the South-East. We'd arrived at our current destination in
a MINI Paceman with its boot and rear cabin packed tight with two sets
shock came a few days after the Z4 arrived and our Paceman had gone back. One
look at the Z4's boot and we were worried one of the party travels
like an old-style Hollywood starlet!
And dedicated two-seater roadsters aren't usually hot on practicality. However,
with the divider that ring-fences the space for the Z4's hardtop to fold into
the boot pushed back, there's actually far more room that you'd think.
with four fairly large hold-alls taking up the centre of the Z4's boot, some
juggling saw everything we'd previously fitted into the Paceman all neatly accommodated.
Admittedly that meant driving roof-up because with the top retracted, boot space
goes down from 310 to 180 litres. Nevertheless, an unexpectedly good result.
Truth to tell, while it is highly entertaining, right foot hard down isn't the
only way to drive a 3.0-litre Z4. Press the switch to engage Comfort mode and
laid-back long-distance is what it does. Even rolling on the optional 19-inch
alloys shod with rubber-band profile Bridgestones, the 35i is a genial cruiser
that's relaxing at three-figure autobahn speeds.
This latest version of the Z4 offers more of the same, only better; more style,
more gratifying to drive and deliciously more intense. MotorBar
Z4 sDrive 35i M Sport Auto | £44,880
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 5.1 seconds | Average Test MPG: 27.6mpg
Power: 306bhp | Torque: 295lb ft | CO2 210g/km