RE: BMW Z4 30i | Driven

RE: BMW Z4 30i | Driven

Saturday 20th July

BMW Z4 30i | Driven

The 258hp four-pot Z4 is second only to the M40i but far more economical. An unlikely sweet spot?



If you're set on getting a BMW Z4 and want one that's quick and forgiving, the 30i stands out on paper as the best candidate. It's cheaper and less hardcore than the M40i, plus with 258hp it also has a decent output advantage over the entry-level 20i. Clothed in M Sport trim, the 30i talks the talk, too - but walking? Well, BMW has invited us to find out on the trick combination of corners, camber and undulation you meet when driving on the North Wessex Downs.

Because this car costs from Β£42,445 it is impossible not to draw a direct comparison with the entry-level 718 Boxster, which costs Β£3.3k more - a difference that's unlikely to dissuade anyone in the roadster market from considering it. As soon as you slip into the Z4's cabin though it's clear that BMW's objectives were slightly different. The Porsche wraps around you like Lycra cycle wear; the Z4 does not - it's more obviously spacious and more obviously laid-back. The BMW's sporting pedigree is well hidden under a bushel made of its own usability.

Up ahead, the 30i's four-cylinder is essentially a more potent version of the 20i's, with its 2.0-litre capacity producing 258hp at 5,000rpm and 295lb ft of torque at 1,550rpm. There's enough muscle in the motor to sprint the 1,490kg 30i from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds, so it's nine tenths off the pace provided by the M40i and within three tenths of the 2.0 Boxster. The 30i does, if you let it, also return a claimed 46.3 combined mpg as well, a figure which provides it with a handy USP right out of the gate.


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The engine certainly feels capable from the get-go, its early surge of torque giving the Z4 the kind of big capacity amenability that its badge implies. Like other Z4s, this means the 30i places a premium on effortlessness - one that doesn't require any button pushing to access. The ride is a little frigid at times, sufficiently so for it to not quite fill out the B-road cruiser mould - but it's soft enough to not be impeded by the kind of surfacing imperfections that dot this part of England like moon craters.

Click through to Sport though and the adaptive dampers will constantly be informing you about whatever cracks and ridges are sailing by underneath. The quicker you go, the more condition improves - which means that you'll quickly find yourself heading into a bend at what feels like chancy speed. The grip you'll find once there have already become a familiar commodity of the CLAR-based Z4 on its wide tracks - although its worth noting that the 30i has just about enough power to unlock some rear-drive character traits that were missing entirely from the 20i. Turn in quickly and the back end can be brought into play with a fast-following open throttle, so it's a little more involving than the point and shoot nonchalance of the lesser Z4.

It doesn't sound particularly good, though, with the exhaust apparently content to drone for much of the rev-band. There's volume from the pipes, it's just not sporty or at all encouraging. You rev the motor simply to keep up the performance, rather than to take any joy from the soundtrack - which does make the M40i's six-pot unique in the line-up for more than just its extra poke. At least the eight-speed gearbox is swift; not on par with Porsche's PDK, mind, but quick enough for the application - although you'll be wanting its manual mode if you want to keep the motor in its most productive rev range.


Wind things up though and the 30i's cracks do begin to appear. Lighter than the M40i it may very well be, but the its softer settings mean that the body control is noticeably worse and over successive bumps the damping, even Ultimately this means that the process of charging down a country lane does not come entirely naturally to the 30i - a shortcoming compounded by the uncommunicative steering. Where a Boxster asks to be driven harder and feels lighter on its toes than it is, the fast-driven Z4 pleads with you for mercy. The 330d we subsequently drove along the same route made a much better fist of it.

That the 30i prefers your effort to be in the region of seven tenths is a trait it shares with the 20i model - but because it's never quite relaxed enough to be thought a proper drop-top GT, it manages to be neither one thing nor the other. It doesn't come close to the Boxster at pace, yet can't pull away from it in the comfort stakes when everything slows down. Given the looks, the low rev tractability and all-round niceness there are still positives to takeaway from the 30i - but failing to deliver the kind of acute handling compromise that marks out its saloon cars is a notable blemish on an otherwise worthy report card.


SPECIFICATION - BMW Z4 30I M SPORT

Engine: 1,998cc, four-cyl turbo
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 258@5,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@1,550pm
0-62mph: 5.4 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 1,490kg
MPG: 46.3
CO2: 139g/km
Price: Β£41,450

Inspired? Search for a BMW Z4 here




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Author
Discussion

GTEYE

Original Poster:

1,377 posts

154 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
There is something wrong with the proportions of this car. Wheelbase too short, wheels too big, bonnet line too high, body too deep, just doesn’t look right to me.

A dumpy sports car is a fail.

ruprechtmonkeyboy

471 posts

31 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
Mincey.

blasos

230 posts

106 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
Looks so good in black - the grille seems to be less prominent. It's got the goods to back it up too: 5.4 to 60 is close to E39 M5 acceleration.

SidewaysSi

5,505 posts

178 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
Looks like yet another average Z4. BMW can't made decent drop tops can they? And it looks crap.

But it will sell...people love to have a new
"BMW sports car" after all.

sidewinder500

80 posts

38 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
This is a seriously ugly p.o.s., my god...

Is it really not possible for them to resist all that Chinese styling crap with all these little nooks and flaps and micro spoilers?
Just bad taste, if anything, what an utter shame.
And I bet an articulated exhaust sound for the racy feeling.
Only for the housewifey types...

Edited by sidewinder500 on Saturday 20th July 07:58

Bright Halo

784 posts

179 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
I saw one on the road the other day in red.
Looked really nice, only thing that looked odd was the contrasting black grills looked enormous and really stood out.

Tim bo

1,400 posts

84 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
From all the pics I've seen to date, I didn't particularly like the look of the latest Z4 incarnation, especially as I thought the previous E85 and E89 versions looked fantastic.

But I've now seen two in the flesh, and it is much better live than in the pictures. The proportions work, and the rear looks particularly sleek.

SOL111

627 posts

76 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
I think this is a grower and looks better in red or flat orange.

Interesting how it's similarly priced as an entry boxster. I'd consider one but can imagine the base spec boxster is relatively sparse (please correct if not) and the discounts on the Z4 will be the decider for most.

cerb4.5lee

12,154 posts

124 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
SidewaysSi said:
Looks like yet another average Z4. BMW can't made decent drop tops can they? And it looks crap.
Agree and I've been saying this for a few years now. BMW get their sports saloons pretty much bang on but they can't make a decent sports car(I say that very loosely) for toffee.

I think this looks terrible in the pictures but I've seen a couple out on the road and they didn't look too bad. I've not got up close and personal with one yet to cast a proper judgement though.

Deep Thought

23,618 posts

141 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
SidewaysSi said:
Looks like yet another average Z4. BMW can't made decent drop tops can they? And it looks crap.

But it will sell...people love to have a new
"BMW sports car" after all.
I dont think it will sell particularly well.

BMW have the usual aspirations of selling high end models as Porsche rivals which will fail miserably as it always does.


Deep Thought

23,618 posts

141 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
SOL111 said:
I think this is a grower and looks better in red or flat orange.

Interesting how it's similarly priced as an entry boxster. I'd consider one but can imagine the base spec boxster is relatively sparse (please correct if not) and the discounts on the Z4 will be the decider for most.
Yeah that is where BMW is pitching this. The reality is even if people dont subsequently go out and buy the Porsche, the fact it's the same price as a Porsche will stop people buying it.

They will only sell these is numbers when they put on heavily subsidised offers on to the 20i car, which is what, historically, they will end up doing eventually.

Mike335i

2,455 posts

46 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
It is a nice looking car, certainly better on the road than in pictures, but it just doesn't seem to do anything for me as a package. I'm sure it is quick enough, but it's the lack of drama that puts me off.

ambuletz

7,811 posts

125 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
not much of a looker. doesn't really standout as looking like a BMW. remove the badge and it could be anything.

Nerdherder

1,207 posts

41 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
Mike335i said:
It is a nice looking car, certainly better on the road than in pictures, but it just doesn't seem to do anything for me as a package. I'm sure it is quick enough, but it's the lack of drama that puts me off.
Hmm. Saw ‘my’ first one on the road yesterday. My thoughts were that it does not look any better in real life than it does on pictures.

Robert-nszl1

373 posts

32 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
BMW design has been poor for some years now, one might argue they've not produced a decent looking car since before the Bangle era. Not only that but despite having the best engine in the segment, they seem to miss in terms of outright performance and drama. Add the seemingly average handling and you are left with a car that misses in every way. My experience of BMW dealerships is even pretty poor,though strangely not Mini. Real shame, as the 4 pot Cayster is far from perfect. Not a classic era for German roadsters

Frimley111R

9,861 posts

178 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
Looks aside, this, like the last one, which we have, seems much more of a cruiser than a sports car and that suits most people. Handling really isn't that important to BMW or their main customer base who buy based on the badge and interiors.

Bright Halo

784 posts

179 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
Although I think it looks good in the flesh (grills apart) there is no way I would have one over a boxter.

Vee12V

818 posts

104 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
It's ugly, has a boring four pot turbo and is automatic only. Dull as dishwater.

yonex

14,770 posts

112 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
I wish they’d drop the ‘30i’ badge, it’s a boring 4 cylinder engine, just call it something new, like Z4i, Z4s, Z4R.

So, 4 cylinder, adaptive dampers, auto, USP is economy.


pb8g09

334 posts

13 months

Saturday 20th July
quotequote all
Been said to death already but I would rather help guide my father into my mother than swap my 6 cylinder E89 manual for this.

It will sell eventually perhaps, though I sense it’s main buyers have moved onto Evoques or SUVs now.