2008 BMW Z4 M Roadster

I enjoyed my time with our bright-red BMW M Roadster over the weekend, when I had plenty of top-down time in warm but not sweltering temperatures. But the weekend did little to dispel the conclusions I made about the M Roadster back in February 2006, when I conducted a comparison test between the then-new M Roadster and the Porsche Boxster S for our May 2006 cover story. The M Roadster is all raw speed and power, and there's nothing wrong with that, but it absolutely lacks the ultimate finesse of the Boxster, the ability to connect seamlessly with the driver. If you drive these two cars back-to-back on a very challenging road, as I had the privilege of doing in southern Spain, you will come away with all the evidence you need that, despite what some car magazines might tell you, the numbers do not mean everything. After all, in our tests, the M Roadster achieved a 0-to-60-mph time of only 4.8 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 13.4 seconds at 108 mph, whereas the Boxster S managed "only" 5.4 seconds to 60 mph and took 13.9 seconds for the quarter-mile, at 103 mph. But the Porsche was, hands down, a more rewarding car to drive fast.

That's not to say that the M Roadster is charmless. On the contrary, that 330-hp, 3.2-liter in-line six is an amazing engine, and the car's straight-line speed is addictive. The fully automatic power top is easy to use, and the car still strikes quite a pose on the street. Although the front-engine BMW lacks the Porsche's dual trunks (one in front and one in the rear, behind the mid-mounted engine), its single trunk is reasonably spacious. I made two trips to the local nursery, both with passenger, and both times I carried a 50-pound bag of potting soil in the trunk plus a bunch of flowers, pot liners, and other stuff to dress my deck. On one trip, I even loaded in a large, heavy, 18-inch clay pot, which required me to tie down the trunk lid over it. Who needs an SUV?

Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor

New Car Research

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