BMW Z4 a quick,

comfortable sports

car

BMW Z4, front, roof down
BMW Z4, front, roof up
BMW Z4, front, action
BMW Z4, side, roof up
BMW Z4, side, roof down
BMW Z4, rear, action
BMW Z4, interior

THE BMW Z4 looks the business in a way that its predecessor the Z3 never did.

The folding metal roof makes it very quiet and refined at speed while also dramatically improving security and bringing down insurance costs.

Yet the joy of wind in the hair driving - which I still love - is just the touch of a button away, and takes only a few seconds.

The cabin is such a cocoon and the heater so good that it's quite possible to drive topless even on cold winter days - as long as you wear a hat and gloves.

It's a great car to drive, with sharp handling and a good ride along with the exhilarating performance you would expect from BMW.

From 2009, engines are 2.0-litre turbo with either 153, 181 or 241bhp, or 3.0-litre six with 254 to 335bhp. There are no diesels in the range.

All are smooth and powerful in the BMW tradition, but if you can run to the six cylinder models, you have more performance and a wonderful sound.

However, even the least powerful 18i will reach 60mph from rest in 6.7 seconds - which is not to be sneezed at - and still manages 41 miles per gallon.

The power steering is direct and responsive, road holding is marvellously sticky and the whole car feels predictable and safe through corners at speed.

This is perfect if you like twisty roads but the Z4 is also very calm and composed on motorways.

M-Sport models have lowered and stiffened suspension and this affects the ride quite badly making them less comfortable, with very little gain over the standard system in terms of handling.

FAST FACTS

Price: Pay about £14,900 for a '12 12-reg sDrive, or £20,400 for an '14 14-reg M-Sport

Mechanical: 181bhp, 1,997cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 146mph

0-62mph: 7 seconds

Combined MPG: 41

Insurance Group: 34

C02 emissions: 159g/km

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