Vrooom! A car with zig-a-zig-ah
Spice up your life with something sleek and sporty – sadly Posh has her mitts on David Beckham, so we'll have to settle for the brand new BMW Z4.
The Spice Girls are about to go on tour and, I’m putting it out there. I’m a fan. Yes, I do have questionable music taste – and my wardrobe is more of hybrid of Mel B leopard print and Mel C’s sportiness, but my car dreams are with Posh. Something luxurious, sexy and a little bit impractical. SUVs tend to be the go-to these days as we hanker for comfort and practicality, but my heart will always long for a sports car.
Fortunately, Captain Sensible’s been locked up for the weekend and I’ve been thrown the keys to the brand new BMW Z4 sDrive20i Sport, a two-seater roadster with supermodel good looks, oodles of luxury and it growls. While I play eeny meeny miny mo with the kids, pop the roof down and spice up our life.
BMW has a long, illustrious history building sports cars (look for the Zs) – and since the Z4 burst onto the scene in 2002, BMW has sold gazillions (well a lot). Now on its 3rd generation, the Z4 has undergone an almighty makeover, ditching the hard roof for a soft top, it’s lost a few kilos (50, if you’re counting), improved performance and styling – and, oh my, it’s lush.
There are three models available the sDrive20i, sDrive30i and the super-sporty M40i. The body is longer, wider and slightly taller than its predecessor, with an extra 70 litres of boot space. Hallelujah! Shoehorning yourself and your luggage into the car, is a thing of the past. Plus there’s room for the extra pair of shoes and coat that you’re other half is eye rolling about. Pah! In your face… we got space.
It’s also worth noting there is no manual option. The new Z4s are fully automatic, but I’m a bit of a convert. The control freak in me loves manual, but the can’t be arsed in me, is totally down with it.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine might not have the same muscle of the M40i M car but it’s nippy and a lot of fun to drive. The sDrive20i Sport hugged the country lanes as we whipped around Berkshire. On the motorway, it’s a smooth ride and even with the top down, the noise is not deafening. The fact you can still hold a conversation and listen to music without grabbing an ear trumpet was surprising.
If you do a lot of driving on major roads, personally, I’d opt for the sDrive30i which has a bit more firepower . The entry level was fine, but it felt a bit sluggish on the straights. Of course, life is not a drag race, so it probably won’t be a factor for many.
The safety functions take a bit of getting used to – the car will keep you in lane, monitor distance from the vehicle in front and keep a note of the speed limit on each road. It can feel like you’re wrestling the invisible man, but at least your insurance won’t go through the roof.
Feeeel the luxury. What I loved about the interiors is the elegance. The central console is sleek, simple and very expensive looking. The leather seats hug you when you get in and the heated steering wheel is a nice touch (available in the Comfort Pack) and means you don’t have to buy a ropey pair of driving gloves.
The cup holders (located in the central storage compartment) are a bit annoying to access as they’re inside the arm rest, so you might end up wearing your Cortado if you’re not careful.
The build quality is superb, I love the reassuring thud as the door shuts and decent leg room. Even my leggy 6ft 7in husband managed to get in and out without becoming a human pretzel. You cannot beat BMW’s ConnectedDrive – large 10.25 in touch screen with sat nav, traffic updates and can even learn driver preferences – more about that in a mo.
THE TECHY BITS
Technology you say (*stifles yawn*). Come on, we can do this!
Pace: The Z4 2 litre, four cylinder turbo petrol engine I had, goes 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds– definitely poky off the start line and you’ll get a reported 38.7-39.8mpg – not bad for something sporty.
Emissions: Petrol only engines, so the emissions might make diehard eco warriors wince, but at 138g/km, it’s on a par with the Audi TT and beats the Porsche Boxter hands down.
Comes with: Adjustable electric seats (seriously, that’s a lot of fun to be had right there); 10.25in touch screen and BMW’s fancy infotainment system; heated seats, lane departure warning and speed assist.
Pay more for: The Comfort Pack – for an extra £750 you get heated steering wheel, keyless entry and wind deflector. Bump it up to the Comfort Plus (*coughs* an extra £1700) and your car becomes your virtual assistant, setting it to your preferences when you get in. You can even personalise the lumbar supports too, it might save you a few quid at the osteopath. Now if it could also deal with my tax return too, I reckon it is money well spent.
Whoosh! The top goes up and down in less than 10 seconds. Handy if it starts to bucket down with rain. And let’s bee honest, essential when you live in damp Blighty.
I know it’s wrong to get excited about storage, but the boot space is seriously impressive for a sports car and there is also a neat spot behind the seats to stow smaller items away too.
It’s kitted out with a 10.25-inch touchscreen and fully digitised instruments with BMW’s latest connectivity software. This updates automatically and learns driver habits to tailor its responses to suit. After a few days, your new Z4 will know what sort of music you like, which routes you like to take via the sat-nav, and even what ambient temperatures you prefer to drive at. There’s also active parking and lots of cool safety tech.
Apple Car Play is clever too. Sorry Android users don’t full connectivity, but iPhone owners rejoice. You’ll get access to your Spotify playlists, Siri will read your text messages and dictate replies and more. A digital PA, no less. Plus the BMW will help you connect with your car when you’re not even in it. Can’t find your motor in the airport car park? *Cough* No problemo, the app will find it for you.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Guys and gal who just wanna have fun (shh, without kids). Great for couples, singletons and thrill seekers. If your love to be noticed, you’ll get lots of second glances in the best possible way. On sunny days, enjoy a natural blow dry with the top down – big hair, baby.
Not for: Families – two seats just won’t cut it. If you’re off on your holidays – unless you pack very light. The boot space will fit three cabin bags, or one medium sized suitcase. You’ll also need to swap to online grocery shopping, too. Got a dog? Unless it’s small, fido ain’t travelling anywhere in this bad boy.
£££: The entry level price for a BMW Z4 is £36,000, maxing out at £49,00. The Z4 sDrive20i Sport I drove, with optional metallic black paint and Comfort Pack, costs £38,415.
Fancy a test drive? Go on then, and see if you agree with my verdict! Pop in and see the guys at Dick Lovett BMW in Hungerford, they’ll arrange a 24hr test drive and will help you purchase the perfect car to suit your lifestyle and budget. The best car showroom customer service I’ve ever encountered.