IT IS testament to BMW’s dedication to being the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ that the Z4 Coupe exists.
In a car industry where new models are usually shaped after many millions of euros have been spent on market research, the Z4 Coupe was created by a dedicated group of BMW staff working in their spare time on an ‘unofficial’ project.
Three years after the introduction of the Z4 roadster, the Coupe is now ‘official’ and on sale in the UK, priced to undercut the new Porsche Cayman range.
Roof aside, relatively little has changed from the roadster, but doing away with a folding soft-top means plenty of room in the hatchback boot. Luggage capacity is 340 litres – 100 more than the roadster.
Just two engines are available for the Coupe, both reflecting the car’s positioning as a sport model – the 265bhp 3.0si, which will hit 62mph from standstill in 5.7 seconds, and the M Coupe which packs a 3.2-litre, 343bhp engine which will launch to 62mph in five seconds dead.
As well as the extra power, the M car also features suspension and brakes from BMW’s ‘hot’ M3, the CSL, but suffers from combined fuel economy of 23.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 292g/km. By comparison, the 3.0si returns an almost sensible 32mpg and 213g/km.
The 3.0si is available is available in SE or Sport trim, which adds leather, 18-inch alloy wheels and M Sport steering wheel and suspension.
BMW is expecting the Z4 Coupe to be rather exclusive, with only 1,000 planned for sale in the UK during a year – about 200 of which will be the M version. That compares with 5,000 roadster sales annually.
The firm estimates between 20% and 30% of Z4 Coupes will go to user-choosers. It expects typical buyers to be married men aged between 35 and 45, and unsurprisingly claims they are likely to be driving enthusiasts.
While strictly a two-seater and with luggage space amounting to accommodating a couple of soft cases for the weekend, the Z4 Coupe is a niche choice, but it does offer more security and practicality than the roadster.
Jim O’Donnell, managing director of BMW UK, said: ‘Most cars in this sector try to be a jack of all trades and end up being the master of none. The Z4 Coupe is different – it’s a focused sports car aimed squarely at drivers who love driving.’
Behind the wheel
FIRST impressions are that BMW has done a good job of grafting a roof on to a car that was originally conceived as a convertible.
The double-bubble roof styling works well and doesn’t dominate the design too much. From the back, if you squint, it even has a hint of Porsche 911 to it.
Inside, the dash and seats are taken from the Z4 roadster, and offer no surprises – typically understated, but stylish in a Germanic sort of way.
The 3.0-litre engine, with more than 250bhp, pulls well and makes a great noise.
Handling is excellent, although the Servotronic steering feels ever-so-slightly artificial.
For my next drive I upgraded by 78bhp to the M Coupe. Visually, the faster car packs a lower front valance and larger air intakes, giving it a more aggressive face. With the extra power under your right foot, it’s hard not to smile when you’re behind the wheel.
GLORIOUS to drive it may be, but is the M Coupe almost £10,000 better than the 3.0si? The extra outlay is not, in my mind, worth the improvements – especially when the increased fuel bill is taken into account. The 3.0si is almost as good to drive and costs substantially less.
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||265/6,600||343/7,900|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||232/2,750||269/4,900|
|Max speed (mph):||155 (limited)||155 (limited)|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||31.7||23.3|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||213||292|