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Reader test: BMW Z4 M Coupe

2009-08-28 08:19

Israel Skosana

The search for my new ride has taken around nine months as I was so specific with regards about what I was looking for.

From the outset I wanted a rear-wheel drive, 200 kW-plus roadster, which left me with the following options - SLK 55AMG, Boxster S and M Roadster.

I drove all these cars and was impressed by all due to their unique attributes.

The SLK is very powerful and looks great, but the automatic setup and massive steering wheel did not cater for my enthusiastic driving style. The hardtop convertible is definitely its trump card.

The Boxster was impressive as it was so precise in its handling, but in the same way it was too clinical and not entertaining. I was so disappointed to see that the roof is not fully automatic like most convertibles on the market today and the price (compared to its more powerful peers) was a major no-no.

Once I stepped into the M Roadster I was immediately blown away by its great mechanical exhaust note and handling with its “grab at the scruff of the neck” attitude, complemented by a meaty steering wheel and massive rear tyres. Dropping the top just added to the entertainment.

Mmmmmm Coupe

Then I was given the chance to drive an M Coupe and I realised how compromised convertibles are.

Handling increases and torsional rigidity doubles, resulting in you pushing the car more and harder.

After the M Coupe idea came into the picture, I ended up looking at other coupes - M3 CSL and E92 M3 Coupe. I did not consider any of the Mercs due to their automatic setups and Audi's only offering was the S5.

The M3 CSL was great fun but a bit bare in the options. This makes sense as the car has to be as light as possible. The SMG setup is a major let down at low speeds but when you put foot, becomes a beast with quick changes.

The biggest shock was insurance for the CSL. It was sky-high as the parts are freaking expensive due to its carbon fibre bumpers, roof and other priceless parts. The CSL was great, but not for me.

The E92 M3 is the perfect car for everyday use, but not as driver-focused as the CSL or M Coupe. There have been more than enough reviews on the M3 so I will not labour on it.

Decision made

The M Coupe does not make any excuses for what it is. It shouts, "I am a manic piece of machinery that loves to play rough and if you are not careful I will bite your head off!"

It is purposeful in every way a sports car can be, with the perfect ingredients of heavy clutch, rough gear change, perfectly weighted steering and an engine that loves to SCREAM and SHOUT.

The wide rear wheels and short wheel base ensure that it is always has grip and then some. This grip can be given up if you decide to play with the throttle in mid corner, resulting in a controllable drift that requires a hint of opposite lock. This perfect chassis setup shows the precision that went into the M’s design.

The power delivery is spine tingling as the revs on this inline six 3.2L monster climb all the way to 8 000 r/min. There is power throughout the rev range, which was a surprise for such a high revving car.

During this power delivery, three characters are unleashed by the engine. From 2 000 – 4 000 r/min, it is the polite door man at the Michelangelo.

From 4 000 - 6 000 r/min, it is the Hulk Hogan gym bunny that pushes a gazillion kilograms. From 6 000 - 8 000 r/min, this engine is a full-on raver on ecstasy and 10 Red Bulls, screaming and wailing and loving it.

It's a winner

I expected to do a lot of cog changes to get peak power but the S54 engine performed like a superstar. I now know why it has been Engine of the Year numerous times.

The engine/exhaust sound when blipping the throttle while changing down or reversing always results in a grin. The pure entertainment this car brings is so seductive.

Secondly, the cabin of this car is cocooning, but big enough for two people to travel comfortably for 12 hours. All the functional items are well placed, but the best part of all are the leather body hugging seats with “///M” embossed in the headrest.

Thirdly, the handling of this car was put to the test on mountain passes in Cape Town, Tzaneen and the Drakensburg. One is surprised at how much grip this car has and no body roll is evident, making the driver give up way before the car does.

This awe-inspiring car is only for drivers who want to be thrilled, frightened and rewarded. I learn something new every time I drive my M and always get rewarded by it.

What a car.

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