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njlee

Z4 Review Thread - First Impressions to Final Word

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Hi All

 

After all the insurance-based debate on the original thread (350Z Mild crash....) I've decided to actually post my Z4 review(s) on this new thread. Anyone who wants to read up on the story of the accident, and contribute to debate about like-for-like insurance replacement cars, feel free to pop over there.

 

Here, is just car-related goodness, or should I say - SPOILER ALERT - badness....

 

Now, bear in mind first of all that I have no beef with BMW at all - I had a 330cd before the 350Z and loved it completely. So this is a review from someone who actually likes BMWs.

 

I have been driving a brand new 60 plate Z4 sDrive 35i for just over a week now. I have driven it on my daily commute, and also up and down the M5. I have not had the chance to take it b-road driving yet, but I have had the chance to open it out on a number of occasions, particularly midnight on the M5. So I have driven it enough to have some pretty reasonable first impressions.

 

For those who just want the verdict, the best I can do is repeat what I have said to at least 3 people - "thank god I didn't just spend 50K on this car'. I would have been GUTTED.

 

Ok, in some more detail....

 

The first time you see this car, it ticks all the right boxes. It's low, big bonnet, big wheels, M-sport styling package, looks pretty badass I have to say. I was impressed, I think it looks nicer than the old z4 (which actually now has a kind of classic hard-core look about it though), but then I have always liked the look of this new model, and up close and personal it didn't disappoint. Hop inside and something changes though, the cabin is nicely appointed, and has all the relevant bits and bobs - the sat nav screen which pops up is very impressive, and the stereo sounds good (no CD changer though - and no aux-in!), so it all feels quality. But there is no style, no drama. Sure, the 350Z feels downmarket in comparison - but it has spirit and drama, you feel like you are sitting in a serious machine for driving, in the Z4 i felt like i was just sitting in a crap-load of money. The i-drive is actually ok - and I can work it pretty well. I actually found it intuitive - but I bet my mum would disagree. And, as regards to the interior trim, I shall repeat the comment of an anonymous passenger of mine on Saturday night; 'you know, the most disappointing thing about the interior is this crappy fake carbon fibre trim - I laid out by hand the prototypes for the airbus wing and it looks nothing like this - why did they even bother?'. Yes, it was a girl. Yes, that was a cool conversation. And yes, I agree. The worst thing is it is silver, which makes it even faker. God knows why BMW insist on this, but at least in my 330 it was black and looked a bit better. Here it just looks pants.

 

OK, enough about the looks. How does it go? Reviews of the 35i have not been good, so I didn't have high expectations. Push the button (I like that, it's cool), the engine comes to life. Reviews have said it sounds good. OK, if you are used to a bloody Mondeo sure, but from the 350Z perspective it sounds anemic, too damped in the cabin, a real shame - but maybe that's personal taste. Stab the throttle and.......

 

.......it sets off. Seriously, the first time I pushed the throttle I swear there was at least half a second before the car moved. Not good. Very hard to make smooth progress in town at first, as I always felt I was over-correcting the throttle, which went from nothing to too eager too quickly. Would much rather have had a manual. The 7-speed dual clutch gearbox is a marvel of technology, and smooth as silk - even in maximum attack mode (more of that later) - but the lack of a manual clutch really makes the experience disconnected.

 

In fact, 'disconnected' is the overriding feeling one gets from the Z4. Even on maximum sport mode there is still a perceptible delay between foot input and acceleration - and can someone please tell me why BMW decided to make the hardest 'sport +' suspension mode automatically remove traction control? This seriously nearly caught me out the first time I had it. I want to drive in the hardest suspension mode more often than not, but I don't want traction control off all the time! Seems silly. Speaking of silly, the gearbox has so many different modes it is almost like piloting the starship enterprise! You can have it on normal 'mushy' mode as I call it, or you can shove it over into 'sport mode' where it seems to make quicker shifts, and you can then override it using the paddles on the steering wheel, which is fun for like 5 minutes until i realised that my hands are too small to comfortably shift down - thanks for that BMW. Perhaps that will be more fun on the B-roads, but so far I have not used it much, and it was something I always wanted to try - disappointing.

 

On the motorway things are if anything even worse. In fact, I felt both in the wet and dry that i was often fighting to keep the car on the straight and narrow. It's not like it wants to shoot off sideways, but I felt I was always correcting it slightly, which makes motorway driving one hell of a draining experience. The only way to solve this (sort of) is to really boot it up to 100 or so (in the absence of traffic in case you were wondering), in which case I (at least) would be concentrating like mad anyway - so you are not so much in 'cruise mode' there and it doesn't feel so irritating to have to correct etc. But, it can still be an unnerving experience.

 

So, to sum that up, in the Z4, I really feel disconnected from the road, and the driving experience. I feel that my inputs have to go through some kind of magic treacle to get to the car, and then through the same to get to the road. Thus, I always feel I am over correcting. This makes any kind of 'driving' irritating.

 

HOWEVER, over the last few days, I have come to appreciate the strength the car has in the daily commute. Yes this is backhanded complimenting. I actually quite enjoy the feeling of disconnection when I am driving into work and home again in maximum mush mode. You never get that in the 350Z! But it is an interesting change in the z4.

 

BUT, I could get that in a bog standard BMW 3-series.

 

One other strength is the completely ridiculously effective brakes. They really are great. But then, they HAVE to be. Simply put, it is scary to think that it takes exactly 0 skill to get the Z4 up to frankly stupid speeds. You just mash the throttle and hold on for dear life! Saturday passenger actually said that the acceleration made her feel sick! And she drives an MX-5 so it's not like she doesn't give it a thrash now and then. I have never floored the 350Z's accelerator, but I have really put the pedal to the metal on the Z4 - without the skill of having to use a real gearbox, you can just do the stupidest things without having the slightest bit of skill at all. In my opinion - a dangerous situation.

 

So. Needless to say, sorry, I don't like it at all. And for the life of me, I can't work out who is spending £50000 on one of these? I don't know what this car possibly offers over any of the competition. Have to have a new car? ok... Want a 2 seater sports car? Get a 370z, a Cayman, or anything that drives well. Has to have a drop top? Get a boxster or the 370 drop, or whatever. Has to be a hard drop top? Hmm, maybe an SLK? Don't know how they drive though sorry so maybe its the same. Really care about BMW? Christ get a 335i convertible even. Don't care about whether it's new or not? Good god, with £50K you can get a 996 GT2! There is absolutely nothing that this Z4 offers better than the competition, and a whole lot worse. I suppose, the figures are impressive (4.9 seconds to 60 for example), but to be honest it never feels dramatic like the 350Z does. It just feels bland. Bloody quick bland, like eating blancmange as quickly as possible until you throw up (bet you never thought you'd read that in a car review), but still bland.

 

So, who in their right mind is going to spend £50K on a two seater with almost no luggage space, which drives like a rocket powered marshmallow, makes you feel like you are doing surgery in boxing gloves with a butter knife, and has as much soul as the X-factor?

 

That said, one more thing - people who don't know anything about cars think it is f*&^ing cool. So if that matters to you....

 

Here endeth the first review. I will post a final word after I give it back, probably next week I am told. I can't wait to get the beast back to be honest. But, I do feel a bit better about the Z4 now than I did after the first weekend, so perhaps my final word will be more positive.....

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Good review :thumbs: U are definitely better than Ben Collins :lol:

I had a 2007 E93 325i SE convertible before the Zed and i totally agree with you. The 350Z seems to have a lot more torque and eagerness..and the sound each time you turn the ignition on is pure heaven B)

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Couldn't agree more. Love bmws always have, took the z4 for a test drive when it just came out and I was really disappointed with it, no power, no character and quite uncomfortable. Wouldn't consider buying one

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Captain Sensible (love it!)

 

I just ain't good enough yet with that 1st-2nd shift to floor it on the roads I drive regularly!

 

Need more practice, but I am not going to pretend...

 

Sarnie - there won't be a new Z4M apparently, so the 35i is as far as it goes. Shame.

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The "New Z4M" is called a Z4 sDrive35iS.

 

I had an E89 Z4 before my 350Z and got abit bored of it, loved the looks and still do but it felt to much like a normal car to drive, it didnt have that sport car fun factor, like you said you might aswell have a 1/3 series.

 

Sounds like the E89/E90 on the motorway also so i suspect its the run flats, my girlfriend didnt feel safe in the car and it jumped around alot, the 350Z is just planted and feels alot safer in the wet.

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Great review.

 

Sack Clarkson , employ njlee :thumbs: ( oh forgot Top Gear is not a 'car' program any more,silly me :lol: )

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Beavis - Oops, sorry! Fair enough. Netiquette fail!

 

ChrisS - I am putting that on my CV, thanks :-)

 

Ewan221 - I agree, when the Z3 came out I hated it, but now it kind of looks classic, and the Z3 M Coupe is still on my list of 'maybe' cars....

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Great review indeed. The wife spotted one of these when we were at the petrol station the other day and commented that she wuite liked them, they look an awful lot better than the first incarnations of the Z3 and previous Z4. Though she isnt bothered about changing cars just yet, its handy to have a first hand opinoin from someone who knows what they are talking about.

 

I didnt realise they were £50K though - jebus! Thats ridiculous. 20% VAT coming soon as well makes it even less appealing to buy new imho.

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Hi Chesterfield

 

Thanks. I don't think they are all 50K, but the one they gave me was the top of the line 3.5i Sdrive M sport thingy. Which seems to retail for circa 50K.

 

Interestingly, I have read that the bottom of the range 2.3 is a better drive, with the chassis being more in tune with less power, and the M sport package adding the aggressive styling touches.

 

I have given it back now - on Sat in fact, and am just formulating my final thoughts on it, although not much is going to change...

 

Nice to be back in the Z - the 350 type!

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Good review, I think the z4 35i has the same 3.0ltr twin turbo that is in the 335i and 135i which both get rave reviews, I have driven the 335i and was well impresed. Just goes to show what a difference a chassis makes.

 

R

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Just sold my e85 Z4 3.0 (got a bit bored) which is consider more of a drivers car than the e90 , and just purchased my Zed and I must say for shear driving experience and feeling connected to the car the 350 wins hands down, not just saying that as I have a 350 now but really is am a big Bmw fan was going to get a m3 but having already owed a 320ci and 330ci M Sport may have been more of the same! even my misses said I would get bored!!! after a week :scare: , were the z4 wins is only in the badge.... and to be fair I found the heated seats a lot better!!! :lol:

 

Great Review spot on :thumbs:

 

a pic of my old beast!!!

 

775.jpg

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350z-uk.com

370z-uk.com

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