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    Come on, that can’t be all you’ve got So far, the Z4’s proved less than the sum of its parts. But we’re going in hot pursuit of the thrills that must lie beneath. By P Taylor / #BMW

    Here’s a second chance to make a first impression. When I first drove the Z4 at its launch in October last year, it was a good car but not an exciting one. It felt more like a saloon that happened to have two seats and a soft-top than a spinetingling sports car. I’ve been wondering if I judged it harshly, especially after enjoying driving its closely related, co-engineered Toyota Supra platform-mate recently. Now the Z4’s got an entire British summer (and a bit of autumn too) to argue its case.

    The Z4 range starts at £37,115 for the 20i model, with a 196bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, or £40,815 for the same engine hopped up to 256bhp in the 30i. This car, however, is the range-topping Z4 M40i, with a musclebound 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six under its stubby bonnet.

    Compared with the rest of the range, the M40i also gets larger 19-inch wheels (with tyres essentially the same as those fitted to the current M3/M4), adaptive dampers (optional on 2.0-litre cars) and an active diff, as also fitted to the Supra. Less dynamic niceties include electrically adjustable seats with leather-meets-alcantara upholstery and extra aluminium trim compared with lowlier models.

    Our car’s also got a fancy paintjob, the optional Frozen Grey II metallic matt paint priced at £1880. In addition to the paint there’s a further £3450 of options: the £900 Visibility Package (adaptive LED headlights and automatic high-beam assist); the £750 Comfort Package (heated steering wheel, wind deflector, keyless entry and start, and a through-load serving hatch from boot to interior); and the £1800 Technology Package (head-up display, Harman Kardon surround-sound speaker system, wireless phone charging, rear-view parking camera and automatic parking assistant).

    So many of the ingredients are there for a truly great sports car – engine set back for a 50:50 weight distribution, short wheelbase for agility, wide track for stability, clever diff and great throttle response by any standards, not just for a turbocharged engine.

    Maybe a bit of extra soak-time will help the Z4’s true character shine. I’m looking forward to getting to know it again over the coming months, and finding out if it can thrill as well as cosset.

    The Z4 has traditionally been more about sun-dappled boulevard cruising, rather than being a car to inspire an early alarm and the long, twisty way to work. Here’s hoping this one’s both.

    Great throttle response by any standards, not just for a turbo engine

    #Frozen-Grey paint will set you back a cool £1880

    Car #2019-BMW-Z4-M40i / #BMW-Z4-M40i-G29 / #2019-BMW-Z4-M40i-G29 / #2019 / #BMW-Z4-G29 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-G29

    Month 1
    The story so far
    Soft-top Supra twin with big-chested straight-six, short chassis, clever diff. Equivocal reaction at launch; it has six months to set us straight

    + Great throttle response; refinement; everyday usability
    - Odd proportions; is it exciting enough?
    Price £49,185 (£53,865 as tested)
    Performance 2998cc turbo straight-six, 335bhp,
    0-62mph 4.6sec
    Max speed 155mph (limited)
    Efficiency 33.2mpg (official), 31.3mpg (tested),
    CO2 165g/km
    Energy cost 18.3p per mile
    Miles this month 299
    Total miles 4746
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    Peter Taylor
    Peter Taylor created a new group BMW Z4 G29

    BMW Z4 G29 Open

    BMW Z4 G29

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    Adam Towler
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    C Gooch
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    Audi returns to Le Mans

    For years the German marque straddled Le Mans like a colossus. Then it left. Jake Groves leads the comeback.
    Audi bailed out of the World Endurance Championship back in 2016, after a decade and a half of near-complete dominanace. Its swansong was the Audi Sport Team Joest R18, but the story began with the R8 – the R8R contested the 1999 race. Heck, even the R8 production car’s concept forebear was called the Le Mans Concept.

    So, when you’re invited to Le Mans, glamping, and with the opportunity to rub shoulders with some famous people (courtesy in my case of Aston Martin Racing, not Audi), taking our R8 to one of the most famous races on the planet is a no-brainer. I’ll be the closest thing to a 2019 Le Mans entry Audi Sport will have – hell, they should be paying me for this.

    Lumpy, congested British motorways and fast, clean French autoroutes generally don’t make for a particularly thrilling drive. But when you have 10 cylinders, a foldable roof and a near-continuous convoy of motorsport fans in similarly tasty cars all the way from Calais to Le Mans, you don’t stop smiling. At one point I even spend time in convoy with CAR’s James Taylor, who’s driving a Porsche 911 GT3 RS; some long tunnels allow for laugh-out-loud (and very childish) acceleration tests between the R8’s bassy midrange and the Porsche’s limiter-bouncing howls.

    I arrive at the campsite with no backache (the bucket seats are uncompromising but supportive) and ready for a weekend in any weather, the R8’s supposedly paltry frunk swallowing everything from T-shirts and shorts to chunky boots and a thick raincoat.

    The weekend itself proves unforgettable. I come away exhausted and temporaily deaf but it will be hard to beat watching the sunrise at Tertre Rouge, taking a helicopter ride over the track mid-race and testing my own endurance by staying up most of the night.

    Then, on the misty Monday morning after, I do the whole trip back again with a similarly wide smile on my face. That is, of course, after a quick blast up and down the Mulsanne straight, sneaking a few pictures on the second chicane.
    Any niggles? It’s a small one, but plenty of recent new Audis have an updated version of Virtual Cockpit that looks cleaner and comes with some cool graphics – something the A1 hatch gets but this facelifted supercar doesn’t, even though the two were launched at the same time. Oh, and there are a couple of creaks coming from the instrument cluster – again, not a dealbreaker, but evidence of the R8’s handmade origins.

    / #2019-Audi-R8-Spyder-Performance-Type-4S / #2019 / #Audi-R8-Spyder-Performance-Type-4S / #Audi-R8-Type-4S / #Audi-R8-Spyder-Performance / #Audi-R8-Spyder-Mk2 / #Audi-R8 / #Audi / #Audi-R8-Spyder

    Month 2

    The story so far

    All style, no substance? Le Mans and back will test the R8, asking that it lug all-weather camping gear, cruise long distances and still thrill when required

    + The attention you get; engine, pliancy in Comfort; engine; topless thrills; grip; did we mention the engine?
    - The attention you get; thirst

    Price £152,645 (£169,120 as tested)
    Performance 5204cc V10, 612bhp,
    0-62mph 3.2sec
    Max speed 204mph
    Efficiency 20.9-21.1mpg (official), 22.2mpg (tested), 302g/ km CO2
    Energy cost 30.1p per mile
    Miles this month 3575
    Total miles 7819


    Come on Audi, GTE next year? The R8 couldn’t look happier on Le Mans tarmac
    In the tunnels, the R8’s bassy midrange battles a Porsche 911 GT3 RS’s limiter bouncing howls
    • Ways to start the day come no finer: ? Naturally aspirated V10 ? Spyder for fruity country smells ⭕️ Mid-engined poise for back-road thrills No wondWays to start the day come no finer:

      ? Naturally aspirated V10
      ? Spyder for fruity country smells
      ⭕️ Mid-engined poise for back-road thrills

      No wonder jake-groves turns up to work grinning every day with this as his
        More ...
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