This Z4 sDrive35is (what a mouthful) has a smooth, powerful, turbocharged six-cylinder, a stellar dual-clutch automatic, and all kinds of dynamic capabilities, but I confess that I barely noticed any of that, because on the night I drove this car it was experiencing some kind of malfunction of the remote keyless system.
When I unlocked the car with the remote, it was making as noise as if the radio was turned to a frequency that was emitting only static — except that the car wasn’t running and the radio wasn’t turned on. I shut the door, locked the car with the remote, and then hit the remote again to unlock the doors. Same static, which sounded as if it was coming through the stereo speakers. I got in, started the car, turned on the radio, turned off the radio, and shut off the engine. I put my left hand in, I put my left hand out, I did the hokey-pokey and I turned myself about (OK, not really). I finally gave up, got in the car, and drove it home, with that loud static in my ears for the entire trip.
When I arrived home a very long 25 minutes later, I locked and unlocked the car numerous times, and was finally able to get the static to stop. I was so relieved that when I drove to work the following morning the only thing I noticed was the blissful quiet.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
The new Z4 is even more beautiful in person than in pictures, as evidenced by the number of admirers it had over the course of its time with us. And it looks good with the top up or down. It’s just too bad that with the Z4 roadster switching from a soft top to a retractable hard top, BMW now has even less incentive to bring back the Z4 coupe.
I had a great time ripping through the gears and hitting on-ramps with more speed than normal, but like the M3 coupe, there’s rarely a safe chance to take advantage of the Z4is’s amazing capabilities. I’d like to see BMW move in the opposite direction. Rather than cramming ever bigger engines and more advanced performance technology into the Z4, I like to see BMW come out with a smaller engined, lighter weight car that is less of a supercar and more of a simple straightforward sports car, along the lines of the Mazda Miata.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
My colleagues have frequently questioned the need to stuff more power into BMW’s small 1-series, but I find myself asking that question about the Z4. In Z4 sDrive35i form, the two-seater already has gobs of power, which is quickly delivered once the turbo(s) begin to spool. Adding the ‘s’ to the lengthy name adds roughly 35 horsepower and 32 pound-feet of torque over an sDrive35i, bringing the total to 335 hp and 332 lb-ft, respectively. Coupled with a curb weight of 3500 pounds, this Bavarian roadster quickly turns into a tarmac-seeking missile.
If that-along with a lightning-quick dual-clutch transmission and a sport suspension that’s harsh even when dialed to the “normal” setting-is what you’re looking for, then this is undoubtedly your Bimmer. For me, the “meager” 300 hp and the slightly more compliant suspension tuning in the standard Z4 sDrive35i are virtually perfect.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
I like McCausland’s description of the BMW Z4 sDrive35is as a “tarmac-seeking missile,” as it indeed is that. During a very fun weekend in the car, I spent a lot of time seeking tarmac myself: long, straight ribbons of it; short, undulating stretches of it; curvy, tightening, heaving pieces of it. It didn’t much matter what kind of road I was on, the Z4 was a blast. What’s nice is that it also has brakes to match the performance of the powertrain. I was giving a ride to a 15-year-old who’s barely been in a convertible in her life, let alone a high-performance German car, and I did a 100-to-0-mph stop on a deserted stretch of road and she was astonished. So was I. It’s also true, as McCausland says, that the 300-hp six in the standard Z4 sDrive35i is more than sufficient for this small car. But, you know, when it comes to horsepower, sometimes less isn’t more; more is more! So I certainly won’t deny anyone the pleasure of the sDrive35is and its 335 hp if they have $65K to spend.
The new styling of the Z4 is a great success on the road. I have driven few cars this summer that garnered so much attention, all of it from men ranging in age from teens to 20s to 40s. This includes the teenage son of the organic free-range farmers from whom I sometimes buy eggs. This young man usually demonstrates all the enthusiasm for his mother’s egg-buying customers that you would expect from a sullen teen-ager, which is to say none. But when I wheeled the Z4 sDrive35is into their driveway, he was all smiles and solicitude, cheerfully asking, “Are you here to buy eggs?!?” “Yes,” I replied. “Sorry, we’re out,” he said. “But I LOVE your car! I am a HUGE beemer fan!!”
At a gas station, a 40-something man who owns a concrete company leapt out of his heavy-duty pickup truck, bounded over, and said, “What did they do to it?” He clearly knew the Z4 was different but hadn’t seen the new one on the road. I explained that it was all-new styling that, in fact, had been penned inside and out by two women in the BMW styling department. He walked around the car at the pumps, gazing appreciatively at every line, and declared that the long front end makes it look like it has a V-12 under the hood.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is
Base price (with destination): $61,925
Price as tested: $65,425
3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine
7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
Dynamic stability control
Dynamic traction control
Speed-sensitive power steering
Adaptive M suspension
18-inch alloy wheels
Xenon adaptive headlights
3-spoke multi-function steering wheel with paddle shifters
AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 player
Auxiliary audio input
Adaptive brake lights
Tire pressure monitoring system
Options on this vehicle:
Melbourne red metallic paint — $550
19-inch double-spoke wheels — $1200
Performance run-flat tires
Heated seats — $500
Comfort access keyless entry — $500
iPod and USB adaptor — $400
Satellite radio — $350
Key options not on vehicle:
Premium package — $2500
BMW assist with Bluetooth
Power front seats with memory
Navigation system — $2100
Premium sound package — $1800
Premium hi-fi system
Exclusive ivory white extended leather — $1650
Anthracite wood trim
Ivory white nappa leather
Cold weather package — $1000
Retractable headlight washers
Heated steering wheel
17 / 24 / 19 mpg
Size: 3.0L twin-turbocharged DOHC I-6
Horsepower: 335 hp @ 5900 rpm
Torque: 332 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Curb weight: 3549 lbs
Wheels/tires: 19 x 8.0 front; 19 x 9.0 rear alloy wheels.
225/35/19 front; 255/30R19 rear Bridgestone Potenza RE050A performance run-flat tires.