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New BMW Z4 revealed

2008-12-15 08:01
BMW’s new Z4, set for debut at Detroit next month, has been web released, showcasing a much smoother, less controversial aesthetic.

One of Chris Bangle’s most controversial creations, the Z4 has strongly polarised aesthetic opinions.

With BMW styling now under the guiding influence of Dutchman Adrian van Hooydonk, the latest Z4 cues styling details more akin to pleasing a generic, customer-driven aesthetic, instead of pandering to dashing design parameters.

Smoother styling

Essentially BMW has flattened and curved all the interesting sheet metal and line-joining bits of the current Z4. BMW loyalists will undoubtedly see echo’s of 507 heritage in the 2010 Z4’s lines. The kidney-shaped front grille has nearly doubled in size, and both headlights and rear light clusters are now more conservative, wraparound items.

Proportions echo classic BMW long-nose roadster design, with the elongated side-profile sporting nearly a two-thirds to one-third bonnet to boot ratio. The new car is longer (by 148mm) and track wider (38mm up front, 36mm at the rear) which should improve cabin space and handling dynamics.

The single most profound design change is the engineering and introduction of a folding hard-top, eschewing the traditional Z4 canvas roof arrangement in favour of better temperature regulation and noise insulation. It’s unclear how much of a luggage stowage penalty the hard-top is due to incur; though in weight terms the new Z4 is on average 85kg heavier per model.

Interior design is pretty generic BMW fare, yet new heating, ventilation and cooling controls are larger and spruce up the centre-console to a degree. Between the seats stowage space has been increased with the banishing of the traditional handbrake; replaced by an electrically actuated system.

Dynamic Drive Control is onboard too, enabling drivers to customise the power steering response and DSC interface on three possible levels, depending on road conditions.

The latest Z4 features BMW’s efficient dynamics engineering principles in the form of low resistance tyres and brake regeneration.

Turbo power

Engines are still in straight-six configuration – why’d you think Z4 featured such an elongated bonnet? Entry point to the Z4 range is found in the sDrive23i, powered by a 150kW 2.5l engine mated to either six-speed manual or auto transmissions.

Performance biased Z4 owners will have option on either the naturally aspirated or twin-turbo version of the redoubtable 3.0l straight six. Badged as sDrive30i (190kW) or sDrive35i (225kW), the latter, turbocharged engine, is available with a seven-speed DCT-gearbox, enabling 5.1 second 0-100km/h sprint times…

A political dimension is ushered in with the 2010 Z4 production too, as assembly moves away from the Spartanburg factory in South Carolina to Regensburg, Germany – at a time when the US auto industry is floundering and awaiting a labour massacre in retrenchments.


Inside Wheels24

Opel Astra 1.4T Enjoy auto – understated and smart new hatch

When it comes to the mid-size hatchback choice, there are a few default choices, a few bland ones… and some often overlooked cars. The Opel Astra hatch is an example of the latter, writes David Swanepoel. - Sponsored

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