The Z4 roadster has become the first BMW to drop its in-line six for a four-cylinder turbo, spurred by a quest for better fuel economy. It's a big deal for BMW, a car company that has made its name with straight-six engines. The fact that the new 2.0-liter four is a good engine makes this change a bit easier to swallow. Compared with the old six, power is down a bit but torque is up; it makes the 28i a quick car, able to race to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds with the eight-speed automatic. The automatic is a no-charge option over the six-speed manual, which has fluid shift action through its long throws. This engine doesn't just make the numbers, it makes the right noises, with a sharp bark overlaid with the whoosh of its turbocharger. Still, we're glad a straight six, which powers the 35i and the 35is, remains available. The 35i gets a 300-hp turbo version and a choice of a stick shift or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The racier 35is is an M Roadster in all but name. Its turbo six bumps up the output to 335 hp and comes only with the dual-clutch seven-speed. However, many of the 35is goodies -- the Adaptive M suspension with driver-selectable modes, the eighteen-inch wheels, the aero body kit, and the sport seats -- are available on the two other models. Leather is standard on the six-cylinder cars but not the 28i. Unfortunately, the switch to a four-cylinder engine has not made the Z4 any more affordable. In fact, the base price has increased by more than $1000 (although there is a bit more standard equipment, with Bluetooth and a USB audio input now included).
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