First Drive: 2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is Roadster

2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is Roadster

The buzz around the paddock at NJMP was that the 35is might ultimately represent the most powerful E89-chassis Z4; M editions of the last-generation Z4 roadster and coupe -- a.k.a. E85 -- were part of that vehicle's swan song. The rumor that the E89 will top out with this 35is model could be supported by the fact that BMW worked so hard to differentiate it cosmetically from its lesser siblings. To wit, the 35is features M-badged items including its steering wheel, dead pedal, and doorsills along with its front and rear fascias; a lowered adaptive suspension is also sourced from BMW's legendary M division. The sideview mirrors are capped in silver (à la Audi S4), and the cabin also features gray-faced gauges and cool carbon-fiber-look aluminum trim on the dash, center console, and door panels. The 35is's exhaust system was specially modified for this engine's tuning, and the aggressively refined result is music to our ears. The 35is also gets unique wheels, whether the base five-spoke eighteen-inch design or the very attractive split-five-spoke nineteen-inchers, which are a worthwhile $1200 option.

Speaking of money, the Z4 sDrive35is is on sale now and has a base price of $61,925, which is a $9150 premium over the 35i model and $15,050 dearer than the base 30i version of the Z4. BMW claims that the 35is, despite its higher-strung engine, gets similar mileage to the DCT-equipped 35i, which is rated at 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

We'd still love to see an M edition of this Z4 (maybe they'd call it simply "Z4 M" ... wouldn't that be novel?), but the new sDrive35is is a suitable flag-waver, no matter what, if anything, comes next.

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