2010 Automobile All-Stars

BMW Z4 | Come see the softer side of the Z4.
By Jason Cammisa

BMW has finally acknowledged what Sears realized two decades ago: sometimes you need to embrace your softer side. Doing so allowed BMW to perform a small miracle on the company's droptop two-seater. You see, the previous Z4 was a little rough and gruff, a little unsophisticated, and undeniably masculine. The red beauty you see here was treated to a mild testosterone-reduction program after BMW took a good look at its customers' needs. The Z4 is no longer gunning straight for the Porsche Boxster - and the Bimmer is better for it.

The BMW Z4 was designed by two very talented women, and when compared with the car's predecessor, the fairer sex's soft touch is palpable from every angle. Trading racetrack readiness for everyday elegance hasn't hurt the Z4 one bit. In fact, it's become a better car in every way. Just as you can still buy hulky power tools at the not-so-softer side of Sears, you can still get your power fix in the Z4: 60 mph is yours in five to six seconds, depending on what powertrain combination you choose. Normally aspirated or turbocharged; stick shift, automatic, or dual-clutch - they're all smooth, sonorous, and seriously quick.

And they're best savored with the top down. This time around, rather than offering both coupe and roadster models, the Z4 is available one way: with a retractable hard top. Sure, the racing junkies moaned - this longer, heavier Z4 won't become a track-day favorite - but we, and we suspect roadster buyers, heaved a sigh of relief. The benefits are a less claustrophobic and more expensive-feeling cabin with a much improved view out, vastly more total trunk space, and better all-weather usability.

The interior design is a marvel of simplicity and elegance and carries with it the first sign of warmth from BMW in quite some time. The sheetmetal is at once sexy, sultry, and supremely muscular - gorgeous enough, in fact, to make it a close contender for our Design of the Year award. The Z4 is expensive, but it finally looks as though it deserves to be. Just as much as it deserves to be a 2010 Automobile Magazine All-Star.

Base Price Range: $46,575-$52,475
Engines: 3.0L I-6, 255 hp, 220 lb-ft; 3.0L twin-turbocharged I-6, 300 hp, 300 lb-ft

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