Forget the Porsche 911: if what you want is to be noticed, buy a 2008 BMW Z4 coupe. It got more attention around Ann Arbor than almost any other car I've driven this spring and summer. They're just so rare. People don't quite know what to make of it. I, for one, really like the Z4 coupe's looks.
I also like the way the Z4 coupe drives. All the usual BMW strengths are here: taut chassis, strong brakes, communicative steering, smartly executed interior, and willing in-line six-cylinder engine mated to a sure-shifting six-speed manual (a six-speed automatic also is offered). Sure, the 3.0-liter six produces "only" 255 hp, but it's all you need for this 3108-pound two-seater. BMW says the Z4 coupe will reach 60 mph in only 5.6 seconds and go on to a top speed of 155 mph. Fuel economy is 18/28 mpg city/highway.
The Z4 coupe is pretty easy to live with, too, with a comfortable cabin and a decent amount of cargo space. Press the big black, white, and blue propeller badge to open the rear hatch, and you'll find a large, fairly wide trunk that accommodates 12 cubic feet of cargo. Not bad for a two-seater.
Naturally, the Z4 coupe is not what one could call cheap. Our test vehicle had a base price of $40,400 but was loaded with options that brought the as-tested price to $47,850. The big-ticket items were a $2250 premium package with power seats and Xenon headlights; a $1300 sport package with 18-inch wheels and performance tires and a sport-tuned suspension; an $1800 navigation system (which kinda cheesily pops up from the instrument panel rather than being integrated into the center stack); and $500 heated front seats.
Still, this car offers a lot of street cred, not to mention driving enjoyment, for the price.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
The hardtop revolutionizes the look of the Z4: I like the styling of the coupe SO much better than that of the roadster. In fact, we thought so highly of the Z4's looks that we parked it next to the classics on display during Ann Arbor's Rolling Sculpture car show.
Even in non-M trim, the Z4 is very quick and tossable, although the ride can be a bit too rough; it's particularly noticeable over the large transverse bumps that riddle Michigan's highways. The silky straight six gets almost Honda-revvy on the highway, too, as 80 mph is more than 3000 rpm in sixth gear.
The comfortable, intimate cabin is undermined by an outdated navigation/stereo interface, but the surprising amount of luggage space under the hatch almost makes up for this. Truthfully, I prefer the Porsche Cayman to the fixed-head Z4, but a lower price and a quicker 0-to-60-mph time help make a strong case for this BMW.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor