- Post is under moderationSecond Thoughts / Bidding a fond farewell to the Z4
The latest generation Z4 has quietly ended production but will the history books look kindly on the sexy Roadster? Time for a re-evaluation perhaps… Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Gus Gregory.
A fond farewell to the misunderstood E89 generation Z4.
Over the years BMW’s Zed cars have had a little bit of a rocky relationship with the motoring press and while those actually buying BMW’s range of Roadsters have always seemed very keen on them the somewhat less than glowing press reports have tainted the reputation of many a Zed. It started so well, too, with the now iconic Z1 – a bespoke machine that looked like no other BMW – before or since – and while it might have been a limited production test bed for BMW’s Technik department it was met with almost universal praise. Those dropdown doors were pretty neat and its chassis was an absolute revelation and more or less the only mutterings from the press were directed at the fact that the chassis could cope with far more power than the E30 325i’s engine could muster.
In a way, perhaps, the Z1 set the tone for subsequent views on BMW Zeds – it set a pretty high bar for the cars that were to follow. The Z3 that arrived in the mid-1990s had an inordinately long gestation period and when it did arrive it didn’t receive universal praise. Sure, it looked good, but after the Z1’s stunning underpinnings the Z3 made do with an old E30 chassis and initially there was only a relatively wheezy four-cylinder engine under the bonnet. Owners absolutely loved the Z3, the press on the other hand were generally less kind, and with machinery like Mazda’s MX-5 showing what could be achieved with a cheeky little Roadster the Z3 looked and felt a little old hat.
All that was to change with the Z4 though. It hit the streets in 2003 and must be one of the finest examples of Chris Bangle’s ‘flame-surfacing’ school of design. It still looks pretty fresh today and in rangetopping 3.0i launch form it was also pretty rapid.
There were some mixed messages from #BMW at its launch, though, particularly the assertion that there would be no Coupé, M model or four-cylinder Z4s (all subsequently arrived in the showrooms), and while the Z4 might have had all the right ingredients it was almost as if BMW had got the blend just a little off. Don’t get me wrong – it was a fine car and I spent many happy hours at the wheel of the E85 generation of Z4 – but there was always a thorn in the side of the Z4 as it was Porsche Boxster-shaped.
The two cars were natural rivals even if Stuttgart’s offing was a little more expensive, but in terms of driving dynamics the Boxster had the BMW licked.
Which brings us to the most recent Zed, the E89 Roadster you can see here, and despite the fact that it still looks fresh and modern and very pretty to my eyes it’s already ended its production run. How did that happen? It seems like only yesterday that it was being launched under a retractable folding hard-top fanfare. Yes, that was perhaps the biggest news for the E89 Z4 – no longer would it have a simple fabric hood – instead featuring a Mercedes SLK-esque folding hard-top. And it was the buyer of the SLK and the Audi TT that were the new Z4’s target audience with BMW aiming to produce a slightly less sporting but more refined Roadster – it was what its customers wanted, said BMW, after consulting with buyers of the previous generation of Z4. If you read between the lines of the press pack it was almost as if BMW was saying that it had tried to build a Boxster-beater, discovered it couldn’t so it went for a different demographic with its next Z4.
Initially there were three models to choose from, all under the sDrive banner – 23i, 30i and 35i – with the two former models using different versions of BMW’s sublime naturally-aspirated 3.0-litre straight-six while the 35i packed a 306hp turbocharged punch from its 335i-derived powerplant. As with the E85 BMW was adamant that there would be no four-cylinder model, no coupé and no M Power model. This time it kept good on its promise on two out of three of those pledges as an four-pot did eventually arrive as BMW moved away from the naturally aspirated ‘six to turbocharged ‘fours.
Having said there was no M model, the machine we have in front of us here today was as close as BMW came to endowing the Zed with M Power as this is the range-topping 35iS that made its debut in 2010. It was tantalisingly close to being an M as it featured the 340hp engine from the 1M Coupé coupled to a DCT transmission and blistering straightline grunt – 0-62mph was knocked off in a very M-like 4.8 seconds. Its vital stats and almost-an-Mpowerplant seduced me into thinking this would be a real ripsnorting performer but when I returned from driving the 35iS for the very first time I felt that while the engine and drivetrain were sublime there was definitely something missing in the chassis stakes. Time for a revaluation then.
I’ll make no bones about the fact that I love the way the Z4 looks – sharp styling, classic BMW Roadster proportions and bucket loads of presence. The front end has something of a Great White shark about it, making the previous model look soft and apologetic. It also looks good with the roof in place as it reaches far back along the rear deck to almost give it a coupé silhouette.
Inside, the premium quality feel goes a step further with excellent materials and superb fit and finish. There are some pleasant swoops and shapes to the dash and centre console while the design is modern, fresh and ergonomically sound. As you’d expect from a BMW, the minor controls all work very well with a deliberate action, although it has to be said that the heating and ventilation controls take a little getting used to as they’re unlike just about any other BMW you’d care to mention with their round dials and combination of rotary knobs and push buttons.
There’s significantly more room in this model than the E85 generation and there’s a modicum of more space for oddments, too. Overall, it’s a fine cabin, a great place in which to spend time, and perfectly in tune with the Z4’s new found touring credentials.
Whereas the previous model was stiffly sprung and edgy when driven hard, this generation was engineered to offer a much more refined driving experience. It was a step change that sat very well with the more spacious cabin and larger dimensions, confirming BMW had GT, rather than more overtly sporting aspirations for this car. That would explain the comfortable ride, the engine pulling barely 2500rpm at motorway speeds and the clever folding hard-top roof. That roof is a two-piece unit, operated electrohydraulically in 20 seconds and while it offers great all-season use it did significantly eat a big chunk of the generous boot space with it stowed.
As a cruiser the Z4 really was an excellent piece of kit but despite going softer with the E89, BMW still very much talked about this car in sporting terms so we need to see what happens when you tackle some challenging roads.
Build the pace up gently. The roof is down and the sun is beaming. It might be cold outside but with the heater and bum-warmers cranked up the cockpit is nice and snug. With each up-change of the dual-clutch gearbox, the exhaust blasts out a glorious parp, howling as the revs rise. At six-tenths pace and with those factors in place, the Z4 makes for an ideal companion, a fine tool for reminding yourself of the joys of relaxed motoring.
The Z4 has both Adaptive M Sport suspension and #Dynamic-Drive control and we opt for Sport Plus and manual mode on the #DCT ‘box for a spirited drive. On tricky roads, the steering wheel paddles are very welcome indeed, allowing you to change gear without taking your hands off the wheel. Ultimately, they help you to concentrate on lines, braking points and turn-in speeds, allowing you to carry more pace than a Hpattern manual would. The speed of the changes both up and down the ‘box also allows you to make rapid fire decisions as the corners approach ever faster, so you never find yourself out of the power band. Through the corners the steering takes on a weighting that feels pretty good, allowing you to place the car smartly, but there aren’t quite the levels of feedback we’d like from a truly sporting machine. With that long bonnet slung out in front of you the front end can feel a long way away. Quick direction changes reveal inertia to the front end, which just needs a moment to settle before committing to the next steering input. That makes for a degree of lethargy that inhibits your ultimate pace a touch, and encourages you to back off a little to avoid demanding too much of the car, and to allow you to keep things tidy.
In full attack mode, the Z4 begins to reveal its mass, with its hefty 1580kg kerb weight causing the body to lurch into corners. There is plenty of grip from the front end though, and the rear will step aside slightly under power to help keep the nose in check through the corner exit. The seats offer plenty of torso support, but the thigh support is lacking. That means you find yourself forcing your knees against the door and centre console, which will have them aching before long.
This engine is a familiar one, and it suits the Z4 very well. The twin-turbos give it a very useful spread of power and torque, but it’s the lowdown delivery of twist that’s most welcome. It punts the Z4 down a road very quickly indeed from low revs, but doesn’t respond to a hammering like a naturally aspirated unit would. If driven with some care, you can even squeeze close to 30mpg from it.
Dynamically the Z4 might not be the last word in pin-sharp handling, but that’s almost forgetting that this generation of Z4 was never meant to be an out-and- out sports car. Treat it more in the manner in which #BMW intended as a sporting #Roadster with GT pretensions and you’ll get on far better with the Z4 than if you drive it everywhere with your pants on fire. It doesn’t take long to work out that the Z4 doesn’t respond to a full-on thrashing, so by working it to eight-tenths and by driving smoothly, it flows down the road at impressive pace with composure. Sure, some other cars thrive on those further two-tenths of effort and commitment, and would tackle each corner slightly faster, but they wouldn’t offer anywhere near the same levels of comfort and refinement for the rest of the time.
If you’re happy to accept that then the Z4 is a stunning piece of kit. It looks utterly beguiling even now after it’s been with us for seven years and with a superb cockpit and build quality it’s an excellent second-hand proposition today. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need to buy the range-topper – great though it is – as if you accept you’re not going to be driving it at ten-tenths the whole time one of the lower-powered machines should do just as well. The four-cylinder cars are good, but we’d probably opt for one of the normally aspirated straight-sixes. Plenty of pace and a stunning soundtrack – what’s not to like? For many buyers the original Z4 used to be too hard, too small and too snappy, the E89 is an altogether more refined Roadster, and offers a depth of talent that wasn’t equalled in its class. The only question that remains is to wonder in which direction BMW will go with the next Z4? We can’t wait to find out.
THANKS: Vines of Gatwick for the loan of its pristine Z4
Tel: 01293 611117
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-E89 / #BMW-Z4-sDrive35iS / #BMW-Z4-sDrive35iS-E89 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E89 /
ENGINE: Straight-six, twin-turbo, 24-valve
MAX POWER: 340hp @ 5900rpm
MAX TORQUE: 332lb ft @ 1500rpm
0-62MPH: 4.8 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
PRICE (OTR): £44,220 / $59,250 ( #2010 UK / USA)
The Z4’s cockpit was excellent although heater controls and electronic handbrake took a little getting used to.
Working it to eight-tenths and by driving smoothly, it flows down the road at impressive pace with composure.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationForecourt find #BMW-Z4-sDrive35i-M-Sport-Roadster (E89) ( #2007- #2013 ) / #BMW-Z4-sDrive35i-M-Sport-Roadster-E89 / #BMW-Z4-sDrive35i-E89 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-E89 / #BMW / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E89
THIS MONTH’S BEST BUY!
Critics may claim that the Z4 35i can’t match the Porsche Boxster as a pure driving tool, but that’s to miss the point. If you want a fast, well-equipped, great-sounding and great-looking contemporary Roadster for less than £20,000 then the 306hp E89 Z4 sDrive35i M Sport Roadster is pretty hard to beat. And this Space grey 2010 example with a mere 15,000 miles on the clock could be yours for just £18,999. Advertised at Leeds performance specialist, SCC, the 0-62mph dash is over in just 5.2 seconds and this leather-upholstered example boasts a plush spec including sat nav, Bluetooth prep, the Comfort pack, adaptive Xenon headlamps and parking sensors.
Web: www.sccleeds.co.uk / Tel: 01943 884551 or 07957 355365
Many thanks to John Warren Cars (www.independentbmw.co.uk) for its assistance with BMW BuyerStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationWING COMMANDER
This wild 800hp Z4 boasts a genuine #BMW-Motorsport carbon fibre GT3 kit and is fully road-legal to boot. 800HP Z4 Big single turbo, carbon GT3-kitted Roadster. This might just be the most outlandish Z4 we’ve ever seen but with 800hp on tap, this carbon fibre road racer’s talents go far beyond its outrageous looks… Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Patrik Karlsson.
It would seem that modified Z4s are like buses: you wait forever for one to come along, and then you get two ridiculous builds within the space of as many issues. I was about to say that the Z4 doesn’t get a whole lot of love on the modified BMW scene but if you’d read last month’s issue and now picked up this one, you’d probably call me a liar. So let me explain. Generally speaking the Z4 is not a particularly popular BMW to modify. It’s also weird because it’s actually a really good car. The Bangledesigned, flame-surfaced E85 was a bit of a shock to the system after the more traditional-looking Z3, but it was a grower for sure and a pretty sweet drive with the more powerful sixes on-board. The E89 was a little easier on the eye and while BMW has decided against producing an M model, the 35is is a pretty rapid machine. Its performance pales into insignificance when compared with the Z3 GT3 racer, though, which is powered by a 515hp, 4.4-litre V8 based on that of the M3 GTS and which, above all else, looks absolutely awesome.
It’s low, wide and has a massive wing and scoops and ducts galore. It’s the sort of car that you might find yourself gazing at and fantasising what it might be like to own something like that, but that you could actually drive on the road.
Evidently that’s exactly what Johan Sjöstedt did but the difference between him and the rest of us is that he actually went out and made it happen. And you’re looking at the result of his fantasy right here. Hailing from Stockholm, the 40-year-old selfconfessed “serial entrepreneur” has been a #BMW fan for all his life, as you might expect from someone whose father owned a BMW workshop. And while his first ever car was a VW Beetle 1303 (a little rebellion, perhaps?), his BMW journey began at a very early age when his father gifted Johan a 1969 1800 while he was studying – a very cool thing to be trundling around in (especially as his dad could fix it for him if it ever went wrong).
An interest in BMWs, then, was established at an early age and modified cars have also been a big part of Johan’s life. He has, he says, modified almost all of his cars and has always leaned towards performance upgrades rather than the aesthetics. And with his last modified car being a Porsche 911 GT2, you can be sure this is a man who enjoys performance cars and driving them the way they were intended.
When it came to this project, Johan knew exactly what he wanted to do: create a street-legal Z4 GT3 for the Gumball 3000 event. That’s no mean feat by any stretch of the imagination. Fortunately for him Johan knew a garage that would be able to help: Westcoast Racing in Sweden. Indeed, the guys there carried out pretty much all of the work. Now, Westcoast Racing might sound like a Californian speedshop but it’s a full-on race outfit that knows what it’s doing when it comes to making racing cars. It was the perfect place for Johan to turn when it came to turning a plain Jane Z4 into a full-blown road-going racer – which is exactly what this car is. It doesn’t just look the part, it’s the complete package. It’s a full-on performance machine.
Let’s start with the body kit, partly because it looks so damn awesome but mainly because it’s the real deal: an allcarbon BMW Motorsport kit. This is what Johan wanted from the beginning but, as you might imagine, getting hold of the genuine kit was another matter altogether, with components being either very difficult to find, expensive or both. It was mostly both! Of course, getting hold of the kit was just half the battle as actually getting it to fit the road-going Z4 required a lot of work, not least because of how massively wide it is.
Westcoast Racing was clearly up to the task, though, and the end result is nothing short of spectacular. I mean, you really wouldn’t expect anything less because you’re basically looking at a GT3 race car. It’s the arches that impress the most, not just because of how far beyond the body they extend (15cm per side) but how high they are. The tops of the very outer sections actually sit above the bonnet and remind us of the Batmobile from the Tim Burton-era Batman movies. The front bumper features a massive central aperture and twin canards on each corner, while the vented bonnet looks no less wild. Viewed in profile you can see how the upper rear portion of the front arches are sliced away, exposing the tyre and the body, and then pinches in where the doors are before expanding out again with the rear arches. The side skirts feature exposed carbon splitters along their length and NACA ducts ahead of each rear wheel.
The rear of the car is arguably the most dramatic view, not least because of that absolutely vast spoiler, which almost sits as high as the car’s roof. The rear bumper and diffuser assembly is just plain crazy. The lower side sections and middle are made entirely of mesh, with the massive twin exhausts poking up and out like cannons. Beneath them sits the extreme diffuser. It’s certainly not going to be to all tastes but as far as visual drama goes, it takes some beating, make no mistake.
There’s no point fitting some wild, widearch racing car kit if you wimp out on the wheel front and the challenge for Johan was actually finding some wheels that were up to the job of filling those gigantic arches, which add half-a-foot of width to the car on each side. After an extensive search, Johan realised that there was nothing available off-the- shelf and so the only option was to go down the custom route, with Rotiform tasked with building the wheels.
That the three-piece forged SNAs measure 20” across will come as no surprise, with the fronts nine inches wide and the rears a massive eleven. And with this build being racing car-inspired you’ll find no stretch here, just ridiculously wide Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber all-round, with 285/30s up front and 335/30s at the back. This is one car you don’t want to get a puncture in. Vast Brembo calipers clamp slotted front discs while the suspension is a fully adjustable custom Öhlins coilover setup developed especially for this car.
As wild as the exterior may be, it’s possible that the interior is actually even wilder and while there’s no roll-cage that’s just about the only thing that’s missing from what might otherwise have been lifted straight from the GT3 racer. First, the entire lower portion of the dash looks to have been removed leaving just the arguably more useful and now flocked upper portion. It houses things like the light switch and HVAC controls, indicating that, for the sake of driver comfort, the air-con has been retained; after all, this is a road car.
However, that’s where the similarities with the regular Z4 end. The Sparco Ergo M seats look like refugees from the Le Mans 24 Hours, with their single-piece design and extensive bolstering and there’s also a carbon fibre intercom system for the driver and passenger. Carbon fibre plays a big part in the interior, making up many of the components and covering so many of the surfaces. The custom centre console is fabricated entirely from carbon fibre, the electronic handbrake release neatly relocated to the side, while an iPad sits in a custom shroud beneath the ventilation controls, displaying additional data. The carbon and Alcantara-rimmed AIM GT steering wheel features a digital display in its centre while an AIM MXG digital dash logger features a TFT screen that can display an overwhelming array of parameters, allowing Johan to keep an eye on all of the car’s systems. Interestingly, the standard speedo and rev counter have been relocated to the passenger side of the dash, presumably to allow those fortunate enough to get a ride in this beast to see just how fast they are travelling.
Now this is all well and good but it would be incredibly disappointing to remove that bonnet only to find a standard N54 peering back at you. But take a look under the bonnet of this Z4 and you’ll see that this is most definitely not the case: the engine is no less extreme than the rest of the car!
The first thing you’ll notice is that massive turbo, which is the main component of the FFTec single turbo kit that replaces the stock twins with a 64mm CEA ceramic ball bearing Precision turbo and includes a tubular exhaust manifold, three-inch downpipe, which leads to that straight-through exhaust system, and external wastegate. Johan’s Z4 features an uprated intercooler and injectors along with modified software and a new diff to help cope with all that power. It definitely needs it as the FFTec turbo kit turns the Z4 into an absolute monster. According to FFTec the kit is capable of putting down 650whp, which is knocking on the door of 800hp at the flywheel, and with the additional supporting upgrades that have been fitted to Johan’s Z4, this is an 800hp car, make no mistake.
Setting out on his Z4 journey, Johan knew exactly what he wanted to build and the monstrous machine he has created is the realisation of his Z4 GT3 dream: a road-legal racing car with the go to match the show. And as you might expect this wild Z4 has been getting plenty of attention. “I took it to Elmia, Sweden’s biggest show, and it won the ‘People’s Choice’ award,” says Johan with a smile. And he should be proud of this build as it’s an amazing car. Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that he’s not done yet. “If money were no object I would have bought a real one in the first place,” he laughs, “but now we are in the process of changing the engine for a V8, just like the real thing.” This might already be the most extreme Z4 we’ve ever seen but that V8 swap is going to propel this car into the modified stratosphere. You’ll never look at a Z4 the same way again.
DATA FILE Carbon fibre wide-body #BMW-Z4-35is / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-E89 / #M-DCT
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #N54B30 / #N54 / #BMW-N54 , #FFTec single turbo kit with tubular exhaust manifolds, 64mm CEA ceramic ball bearing #Precision turbo, three-inch downpipe, straight-through exhaust system, external wastegate, uprated intercooler, uprated injectors, modified software, seven-speed M-DCT gearbox, uprated diff. Approx. 800hp
CHASSIS 9x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) #Rotiform #SNA three-piece forged wheels with 285/30 (front) and 335/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, custom #Öhlins coilovers, #Brembo #Brembo-BBK with grooved discs (front), line lock kit / #Rotiform-SNA
EXTERIOR Full carbon fibre genuine #BMW-Motorsport-GT3 body kit
INTERIOR Flocked dash, custom carbon fibre centre console, iPad mounted in custom carbon housing, driver and passenger intercom system with carbon headphones, original gauge cluster moved to passenger side of dash, single piece Sparco Ergo M VTR race seats, #AIM-Motorsport-GT steering wheel with digital display and carbon and Alcantara rim, AIM Motorsport MXG digital dash logger.
As wild as the exterior may be, it’s possible that the interior is even wilder.
AIM Motorsport digital dash logger is a seriously impressive piece of kit and is complemented by an AIM steering wheel.
Fully-adjustable Öhlins suspension was developed specifically for this Z4.
FFTec single turbo kit uses #Precision turbo and, with supporting mods, cranks out 800hp.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSHOWOMAN SHIP BAGGED #BMW Z4
Jaw-dropping wide-body roadster. With her bagged wide-body Z4, this young lady can teach the boys a thing or two about modding. You want show-stopping, jaw-dropping, eye-popping? This Z4 delivers all that, and even more… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Kevin King Uy.
Take a good look at this Z4. Drink in the details, the extravagance and the sheer amount of modifications. Regardless of whether or not it’s to your style or taste, it’s one hell of a build, and it was built by a 22-year-old college student. Not only that, but this isn’t just Monique Song’s first project car, it’s her first ever car. Where the hell do you go from there?
By her own admission, Canadian Monique was not particularly interested in BMs or even European cars. “When I was deciding on my first car, I looked into a lot of different models and asked around for suggestions. At first I thought about getting a GTR, then looked into buying a Dodge Charger because it would be pretty badass to drive the same muscle car as the police, then I looked at Mustangs… This Z4 wasn’t planned, I’d never even thought of a European car until I walked into a BMW dealership. A family friend knew the sales guy there so we went to visit. While we were chatting and looking up inventories, a blue Z4 3.5i came in and it fitted my needs. I liked that fact that it was a convertible so I could enjoy the sun, and that it was small and girly, which suits me. I see the car as a little sister who accompanies me wherever I go, so I named her ‘Hitomi’ – it’s Japanese, meaning ‘eyes, the eye that sees pretty things, the beauty and wisdom’. I think a Z4 should be a girl and I want her to be a beautiful, smart girl.
“I didn’t have a plan when I first got the car. I barely knew how to mod it at first and this project has been a learning process for me. There’s still lots to improve but for my first modified car, but I think I’m doing well.
Speaking of modification plans, if I had had a plan while choosing this car, I wouldn’t have bought an E89 as there are barely any aftermarket parts for this model,” she says, but looking at her Z4 you’d hard pressed to tell. As these things often do, Monique began with a set of wheels, Vossen CVTs, before things started getting more serious. “After fitting the wheels, I realised the wheel gap was too big. It looked like the car was tiptoeing, so I lowered it on bags and worked a lot stuff on top of this, including camber arms, to make the fitment more satisfying.”
The ensuing year-and-a-half resulted in the car you see before you now. As Monique has already touched on her choice of suspension, that seems as good a place as any to start dissecting this build. Her reasoning for going with air was simple: “What suspension lowers the car but can also easily get over speed bumps? Air suspension!” she exclaims. “It wasn’t until I started seriously researching air suspension that I realised how good bagged cars can look. However, there were no E89s on bags at the time, which meant I had to be ‘the first to eat a crab’. It’s a Chinese saying…”
Monique went for the E36 Air Lift air-ride suspension components along with a Megan Racing E85 Z4 camber arm kit and had them custom-fitted to her E89. For management, she went with AccuAir with the controller nicely nestling in her clip-on cup holder.
The air-ride steered the direction of the rest of the build, and from that point on Monique knew her Z4 was going to be a stance car, and that dictated the styling too. “I’ve seen lots of photos online of the Duke Dynamics project Z4 in Japan and I decided that that was what I wanted for my car. It has some GT3-inspired elements to it but the kit is clean looking and not too crazy for street driving. The only thing missing on the kit is a lip. Luckily, Duke Dynamics is based in Vancouver and I managed to get in touch with the owner who made a carbon fibre lip just for my order,” she says.
The Duke kit replaces all the OE body panels, meaning nothing needed to be cut and everything can be reversed if Monique ever changes her mind. “Lots of people ask me if my car is an M model or some sort because it looks more like from factory than a bolt-on wide-body,” she adds. “Unfortunately, the actual fitment of the kit isn’t very good. Europa fitted the kit for me and it took the team there a month and a half to put it together, but they really did their best to make it what it is right now. The kit contains almost all of the pieces except doors, mirrors and the hard-top.
“Painting the kit isn’t much different than painting the whole car so I thought I’d change the colour to create a more dramatic makeover. I loved the original blue too much to remove it all, so I decided on white with a small amount of blue pearl, which really comes through in the light.”
There was still something missing, though… “After staying on the ground with this kit for a while, I noticed the rear bumper was too high up in the air while the front lip was right against the ground. So I got side skirts and a GT3-style diffuser custom-made by Aero Flow Dynamics when I was in LA, and that really helped the car to look even lower when it was on the ground.” The finishing touch involved wrapping the roof to give the illusion of having a soft-top on the car. “I got the idea from the velvet-wrapped cars I’d seen,” explains Monique. “I got the roof wrapped in black velvet when I had the car in LA. The wrapping guys were all confused as to why I wanted that material but after it was done they knew the reason. It really looks like soft-top! I get a lot of questions about it because a lot of people have never seen anything like it!” she laughs.
The styling, however, is no laughing matter as this Z4 is obscenely aggressive. Up front there’s that big splitter and at the rear sits that vicious diffuser – literally, as it has claimed countless ankles whilst parked – with its curved fins below that swathe of carbon fibre. It has to be said that the widebody itself is relatively subtle, no doubt thanks to the fact that the panels are all new rather than piggy-backing on the standard body. The work put in by Europa to get the fit and finish perfect has certainly paid off. Even the most comprehensively styled car is only half done if it’s on the wrong wheels, and with that kit (not to mention the fat arches that needed filling) the Vossens simply weren’t going to cut it anymore. “I like blue and wanted to keep more blue elements throughout the car, so the wheel colour had to be blue. I also needed something in a negative offset to fit the wider body so my choice was narrowed down to custom ordering a set of threepiece wheels. Thanks to Europa Auto Design and SR Auto, I got a pretty good deal with PUR Wheels; the LG02 design I went for just came out not long ago and it’s something I’ve never seen before. It’s very unique and it doesn’t have too many spokes which makes cleaning a nightmare.”
The 19” LG02s look awesome in blue, the angular spoke design definitely stands out from the crowd. The centres are complemented by the Mevius neon blue lug bolts, with mirror polished stepped lips and polished bolts, and the small matter of the massive six-pot Brembo front brake kit visible through the spokes.
The big brakes are not overkill because this Z4 is not just for show – under that long bonnet sits the vastly tunable twin-turbo N54 straight-six, just ripe for a few go-faster parts strapped to it, so it would have been rude of Monique not to indulge. “It started with a ride in a friend’s Subaru STI. I saw this cool COBB Accessport gauge and decided to get one for my car. After reading the manual I found that if I wanted to go to a higher stage, I needed lots of other stuff. I ordered AR Design downpipes soon after, then got an aFe intake from my friend’s 335i.
I got the silencer removed so the car is basically straight-piped now, which sounds amazing and the exhaust gets a lot of attention. At the end of 2014 I got a sponsor deal from STETT Performance for its FMIC, chargepipe and a blue Tial BOV. I then did some engine dress-up, adding coloured bolts and a custom painted engine cover.” That comprehensive list of engine mods means that Monique has at least 400hp to play with, meaning the Z4 has the performance to back up its neck-snapping looks.
If you thought the exterior was loud, you’d best get your earplugs in because things certainly don’t get any quieter inside. The blue-and-white theme has been carried over to the interior with unbridled enthusiasm and dedication, and it really helps to tie the whole build together.
Originally, Monique’s Z4 had been spec’d with some questionable wood trim, which she unsurprisingly felt didn’t belong in a sporty roadster, so she had it wrapped in brushed blue, which looks fantastic, as do the Bride single-piece buckets.
“Initially, I got a pair of bucket seats from Status Racing, but it wasn’t a great experience. Not only was the product not what I asked for, but the company also sent me the wrong base mounts. It doesn’t have them for the E89 but claimed that E85s and E89s use the same ones, which is not possible at all, as not a single hole lined up.
The seats were also too wide for the small Z4 and rubbed against the door and centre console. Bride was the only company that had the correct base mount for my car so I got the mount from there instead. Also, at the time, a friend was selling his Bride Zeta 3 and Zeta 2 seats so I got both from him. Thankfully, when I later attended SoCal, I met up with another friend who swapped their Zeta 3 for my Zeta 2 and I now I have a matching pair.”
Monique had similar woes when it came to finding the right steering wheel, as she explains: “I got a Vertex Seven Star steering wheel because I loved its stitching design and the red, blue and white colour combo. It was sitting in the living room for the whole winter until spring, when it was finally warm enough for the heated steering wheel to go away. I couldn’t find a steering wheel hub for my car so I tried to fit the E90 Momo hub and it worked. After fitting the blue quick release boss from Worksbell, I realised that the Vertex’s deep dish style made the steering wheel too close to me and too far for me to reach the turn signals comfortably. I had it in the car for 15 minutes before deciding to get a flat-faced one. Luckily, I was in LA at the time and Evasive Motorsports has lots of steering wheels in stock so I walked in, picked up a Personal Pole Position one and that’s what I’ve got in the car now.”
We mustn’t forget about the air install in the boot; Monique’s favourite modification on the car. “It’s nothing as crazy as those cars with mass amounts of hardlines and lights,” she says, “but I played with the word ‘bagged’. The air tank was painted as a NOS tank and sits inside a bag. It looks hidden in a natural way. Since I still drive the car quite often, I need a functional trunk. With the bag as protection, I can slide things in without worrying about breaking any pipes.”
Monique has put a huge amount of work into this car and not only was the experience most definitely a learning curve, having unknowingly chosen to modify a car with so little aftermarket support made the whole experience that much tougher, but she persevered and can now enjoy the fruits of her labours. It’s certainly not a shy, subtle build, but it is an incredibly comprehensive one. This is a build with no stone left unturned. It is an astonishing achievement for someone so young with no prior experience of the modifying world and in one fell swoop she’s put the efforts of a lot of older, more experienced people out there to shame. We can’t wait to see what she does for her next trick…
This Z4 has quite literally been bagged, with the fun boot install both a talking point and good way of keeping the hardware protected.
Blue-and-white theme carried over to the interior, with trims wrapped in brushed blue, and Bride seats.
DATA FILE Air-ride / #BMW-E89 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-Z4-Air-ride-E89 / #BMW /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six #N54B30 / #BMW-N54 / #N54 , Stett Performance front mount intercooler, Stett Performance charge pipe with white paint, #Tial BOV, #COBB-Tuning #AccessPort-V3-Stage-2 , AR-Design cat-less downpipe, #aFe Magnum Force Stage 2 Pro 5R intake system, Downstar accessories including blue engine dress-up bolts, custom painted engine cover and power braces, custom muffler delete exhaust, burnt titanium quad tips, six-speed automatic gearbox.
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 11x19” (rear) PUR LG02 three-piece wheels with candy blue faces and polished lips with 225/35 (front) and 265/30 (rear) Falken FK452 tyres, custom fit #AirLift-Performance E36 air suspension, #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management system with custom ‘bagged’ trunk setup, custom-fit Megan Racing E85 Rear control arm, #Mevius neon blue lug bolts, #Brembo GT six-piston front big brake kit.
EXTERIOR #AutoTechnic matte black kidney grilles, Duke Dynamics full widebody kit (front bumper, front wings, side skirts, rear fenders, rear bumper), Duke Dynamics power-vented hood, carbon fibre rear diffuser, #CSL bootlid, custom carbon fibre front lip, Aero Flow Dynamics custom side diffusers, Aero Flow Dynamics custom rear diffuser, custom paint using white base with blue pearl, hard top velvet vinyl wrapped, 88% window tint, tail-light tint, #LuxAngeleyes H8 V4, #WeissLicht LED white turn signal bulbs, interior xenon bulbs, custom boot switchable ambient lights.
INTERIOR Brushed blue vinyl interior trim wrap, #Bride seat rails, #Bride-Zeta-3 bucket seats, Bride head cushions, Bride blue fashion protectors, 350mm Personal-Pole-Position steering wheel, blue #Worksbell Rapfix 2 quick release, Momo steering wheel hub for E90/E92 custom-fit to E89.
THANKS Europa Auto Design, SR Auto Group, PUR Wheels, NightRunner International and all of my sponsors. Also to all of the shops that I’ve been to and friends who have offered valuable help in any form. Most importantly, thank you to my parents for accepting their daughter’s hobby even though they don’t really like it.
The car sounds amazing and the exhaust gets a lot of attention.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation2016 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-Z4-sDrive-23i-M-Sport-Roadster (E89) ( #2009 to #2011 ) / #BMW-Z4-sDrive-23i-M-Sport-Roadster-E89 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-E89 /
Now’s the ideal time to hunt for Z4 bargains, and with most Roadster buyers either after a frugal four-cylinder soft-top or a highperformance M model the six-cylinder 23i is often overlooked. And that means it’s far better value, so you could be sliding behind the wheel of a one-owner Z4 #sDrive 23i in tasty M Sport guise for as little as £13,000. With six cylinders the performance more than matches the looks, with a 6.6-second 0-62mph time, and the ample spec is bordering on luxurious. Nearly all have covered less than 45,000 miles and boast full #BMW service histories. So what are you waiting for?Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationA Question of Sport #2016
/ #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4-5.0d / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4-E89 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4-5.0d-E89 / #BMW-Z4-5.0d / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-E89-AC-Schnitzer
AC Schnitzer endows the #BMW-Z4 with some serious diesel power with a 400hp conversion! A pure sports car with a triple-turbo diesel under the bonnet? Who’d make such a thing? AC Schnitzer – that’s who. And it knows what it’s doing… Words: Auto Bild Sportscars. Photography: Auto Bild Sportscars and AC Schnitzer.
The ACZ4 5.0d has a bespoke interior and many one-off components such as the exhaust which saves a staggering 19kg.
Track tester’s notes
Engine: Because of its nature, it doesn’t rev as sharply as a sporting, normally aspirated petrol engine. The strong torque always leads to a lightning-fast breakaway of the rear end.
Gearbox: Take everything one gear higher than normal, and shift up at 4500 rpm. Steering: Direct, precise, plenty of feedback.
Suspension: Perfectly set up for the Sachsenring, almost no roll tendency in alternating curves, just enough spring travel for small bumps. 1.34g transverse acceleration!
Brakes: Perfectly controllable, no fading, pressure point clear as glass. Brilliant.
Some of our readers may well remember the AC #Schnitzer 99d that the company built back in 2011 which combined BMW’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre diesel engine tuned to 190hp and 310lb ft of torque with the expensively lightened body of a Z4. Thanks to innumerable carbon components, the eco-sportscar was able to slim down to an unladen weight of around 1300kg. It ran on low rolling resistance tyres and returned, on average, a smidgen over 74mpg which equates to a CO² emissions figures of just 99 grams per kilometre. Sadly this technology platform – costing €149,000, but not for sale – remained a highly regarded one-off.
It was also regarded – or rather, watched – by a stubborn interested party who was inspired by the concept of a diesel sports car for rather less noble reasons than saving the planet. For him, it was more about torque. The 310lb ft offered by the four-cylinder diesel wasn’t enough for this customer, so he said to Schnitzer: “If you can make a really powerful diesel, I’ll buy the car.”
So the engine arrived – a freshly donated unit from a M550d. And in a lengthy operation, the AC Schnitzer 99d was transformed into the ACZ4 5.0d. The name is as unwieldy as it is misleading, because the tripleturbo six-cylinder doesn’t have a 5.0-litre capacity – it is, in fact, a 3.0-litre unit. That’s more than enough, though, because straight from the factory this wonder diesel delivers no less than 381hp and 549lb ft of torque and turns the two-ton-plus M550d into a very lively performer.
But what can this oil-burner add to a lightweight Z4, even when on top of everything it’s tuned by software intervention – an increase in injection quantity and, consequently, a rise in boost pressure – to 430hp and 620lb ft? And it gets better: our performance measurement actually recorded 445hp. Will the engine and chassis separate themselves from the bodywork during the traffic light grand prix? Will the propshaft tie itself in knots? Or will the rear wheels simply spin helplessly in every gear?
Somewhat surprisingly none of that happens as Schnitzer transplanted the complete rear axle from the E92 M3 (including the limited-slip diff) and fitted 9.5-inch wide forged alloy rims shod in very grippy 265 Michelins. As a result the Z4 actually transmits all that power and torque to the Tarmac remarkably well. Naturally it is possible, with the driving aids turned off, to transform the rear tyres into small black crumbs with a large dose of the throttle. However, anyone with even a hint of feeling in their right foot should be able to get smoothly off the mark (even in the wet), and rapidly shift up through second and third, and only fully press depress the throttle in fourth gear at the earliest.
The secret of the fundamentally fine controllability and high output of the BMW diesel lies in the complex valve control of the three turbos: a small high-pressure turbo ensures spontaneous response to even the smallest tap on the gas pedal. From around 1500rpm, the large low-pressure turbo joins in and provides plenty of volume and torque. Stage three comes in at around 2700rpm: a bypass line now supplies exhaust gas to a third small high-pressure turbo. From here up to maximum revs at 5400rpm, all three turbos work together to push the huge air masses into the combustion chambers for maximum power. Yet the driver notices nothing of these processes, simply enjoying the lag-free, harmonious but extreme power development up to maximum revs. So on the motorway, eighth gear is enough for all situations. Hectic flips of the shift paddles, kickdown, high revs – why bother? Just engage top gear in manual mode and press the throttle – and enjoy acceleration to a level not experienced before. The speedo needle climbs from 100 to 200km/h (62-124mph) as quickly as it does from zero to 100km/h in other well-powered cars.
The vehement thrust however ends unexpectedly early at a measured 279km/h (173mph). Is this down to the short-ratio M3 rear axle, which was really intended for a high-revving V8 petrol engine? No, because at top speed in eighth gear you’re only at 4300rpm and the diesel has enough breath for a further 1100 revs. Roman Fenners of AC Schnitzer thinks the cause lies in a protective function of the gearbox software, to prevent overheating.
But even 279km/h feels very, very fast in the diesel Z4: the solid hard-top of carbon fibre reinforced plastic, which replaces the standard steel folding top and its complex electro-hydraulic folding mechanism, saving 56kg, produces a noticeable interior noise level. And the very low race-style suspension setup with short spring travel, pronounced negative camber and very wide tyres on the front axle, calls for strong arms on bumpy and grooved surfaces.
When we head off to the track, and specifically the slalom test, what was a disadvantage on the motorway here transforms into an advantage: the slightly nervous agility of the Schnitzer Z4. The pleasantly heavy steering, which feels beautifully taut and extremely precise, gives excellent feedback from the road and allows the coupé to be steered through the cones with millimetric precision. Understeer? Only when the tyres haven’t warmed up. Oversteer? Only when the throttle is used as an on/off switch.
The nose-heaviness is successfully countered by AC Schnitzer with 265 tyres on the front too – instead of the mixed tyres with considerably narrower format on the front which come on the standard Z4 top model, the sDrive35is. That car, with 340hp, weighs in at 1601kg – 123kg more than the Schnitzer with the heavy diesel unit up front. As well as the solid hard top of carbon fibre reinforced plastic there’s also a CFRP bootlid (minus 34kg), a lightweight rear silencer (minus 19kg), CFRP bucket seats (minus 35kg) and forged alloys (minus 25kg) which all save weight.
Our race ace, Guide Naumann, now takes over the controls for our hot laps of the Sachsenring to record a lap time. For this we fitted Michelin Cup 1 semislicks which in the cool autumn temperatures, despite several warm-up laps, never quite reach their optimum working temperature. But the Schnitzer still steers excellently into the Coca-Cola Kurve after the start-finish straight without understeer. The suspension is perfectly set up for the Grand Prix circuit, handling the alternating corners without too much body roll, but was still soft enough to swallow the small bumps of the Sachsenring. For the Nürburgring North Loop we reckon this setup would, however, offer too little spring travel.
When accelerating out of comers, the triple-turbo has too much power especially in conjunction with an only lightly loaded rear axle. If you press the gas on entry to the apex, the rear kicks out suddenly, so you take it in one gear higher than usual, applying the gas late and progressively. But the rear still calls for your full attention, such as in the fast right kink downhill at 180km/h, where it tries to overtake the front! With the diesel roaring loudly at race speed, you can’t hear the rev limiter so you can’t shift based on engine note. Instead you have to keep glancing away from the track and over to the rev counter. The needle, however, should never drift above 4500rpm because higher revs would only cost time and you’ve still got all that solid torque available in the next gear.
The Schnitzer braking system, with six-pots on the front, remains unmoved lap after lap – no fading, no lengthening pedal travel, just a pressure point set in stone, combined with perfect controllability. Naumann’s summed up the ACZ4 5.0d on track thus: “Race-style suspension with very high and correspondingly narrow limit zone. Overall high grip level but the huge torque proves a killer for perfect lines. With a slightly higher exterior temperature or a softer tyre compound, certainly another second could have been squeezed out.”
The comparison with the Schnitzer Z4 99d mentioned initially, which we thrashed around the Sachsenring in spring 2013, is interesting: the 200kg lighter car, which also had 255 less hp, took over five seconds longer. A good time in itself, on a par with a current Audi S4 with 333hp. Or expressed in other words: the six-cylinder diesel is a real powerhouse. For the record the ACZ4 5.0d recorded a time of 1:37.27 on a cold track… a F82 M4 DCT Coupé managed a 1:37.74 under warmer conditions. And that makes the ACZ4 5.0d the fastest diesel we’ve ever driven around the Sachsenring.
And how does the Schnitzer feel in comparison with a standard Z4 35is? Another world away. The softly set up standard BMW, trimmed for comfort and ‘safe’ understeer, feels almost stolid, almost unsporting. Today’s standard, forgiving car sadly can’t offer the sharp handling which you associate with the first generation Z4 (E85).
Overall we’re left with an impression of a machine that really does stir one’s emotions. Emotions? In a diesel? Which occasionally breathes a hint of diesel oil into the interior? Which on starting rattles like the neighbour’s rep-mobile? Which growls darkly at the front but can’t sing melodiously from the exhaust? Yes! Because the baffled looks of a few car nerds who notice that the engine note and car don’t go together, are pure gold. And then there’s the fab feeling of driving something unique, special and exotic.
This unique, special, exotic car could, however, make you curse in everyday use. For example, in the supermarket car park when you have to unlock the carbon fibre bootlid in two places, then take it off completely and put it to one side before loading your shopping. Then there’s the short-travel suspension which the driver has got used to but passengers will never take to. Add to that the always high interior noise level (yes, even the sound insulation has been scrimped on) and that when reverse parking it’s very hard to see the rear extremities… and the former Roadster has now become a year-round closed top coupé. Oh well, you can’t have everything!
It’s not a cheap conversion, though, even if using a secondhand Z4 as a basis. Almost all the internals have been thrown out and the new engine and eightspeed automatic alone cost nearly €50,000. Then it goes without saying that the suspension and brakes have to be uprated to match the huge power gain. The interested party could save a few euros though by skipping the lightweight components.
Either way, AC Schnitzer has come up with a cracking package for this car. A heavy, extremely powerful diesel in a delicate lightweight coupé? We were sceptical, but our scepticism gradually developed into unalloyed enthusiasm during the test – AC Schnitzer has successfully pulled out all the stops to create this extraordinary concept.
Schnitzer has stripped a huge amount of weight from the Z4 thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre such as these front wings and the new roof.
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-AC-Schnitzer ACZ4 5.0d
ENGINE: Six-cylinder, triple-turbo diesel, 24-valve / #N57S / #BMW-N57S / #N57S / #BMW-N57 / #N57 / #N57-AC-Schnitzer /
BORE/STROKE: 90.0 x 84.0mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 16.0:1
MAX POWER: 430hp @ 4400rpm
MAX TORQUE: 620lb ft @ 2000-2400rpm
0-62MPH: 4.0 seconds
0-124MPH: 12.9 seconds
QUARTER-MILE TIME: 12.31 seconds
TOP SPEED: 173mph
ECONOMY: 20.6-39.8mpg (27.2mpg on test)
ENGINE: Triple-turbo straight-six diesel, retuned
TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed automatic
FRONT BRAKES: 380 mm, vented and slotted, six-piston callipers
REAR BRAKES: 370mm, vented
WHEELS: AC Schnitzer Type VIII lightweight forged wheels ‘BiColor Orange’, 9.5x19 inches
TYRES: Michelin Pilot Super Sport 265/30 ZR 19 Y
ROOF: Replacement of the two-piece, electrohydraulically operated, folding steel roof with a CFRP hard-top saves 56kg, the #CFRP bootlid a further 34kg. The roof is now fixed and the bootlid can only be opened by removing it fully.
GLASS: The rear screen and rear side windows (which can no longer be lowered) are made of lightweight polycarbonate.
SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer racing suspension, fully adjustable in compression and rebound stages.
AERODYNAMICS: AC Schnitzer carbon front spoiler, AC Schnitzer carbon sports wings, AC Schnitzer bonnet vents, AC Schnitzer rear spoiler (two-piece), AC Schnitzer carbon rear skirt insert.
INTERIOR: Interior trim elements painted, carbon racing seats with #ACZ4 5.0d logo, AC Schnitzer aluminium footrest and pedal set, AC Schnitzer instrument cluster.
PRICE: €114,000 (one-off build cost)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLittle Zed Riding Good 2015 – Road test #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-Z4-Drive28i-E89 / #BMW-Z4-Drive28i-AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-E89 / #BMW-E89-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-Z4-Drive28i-AC-Schnitzer-E89
We test the AC Schnitzer-tuned #BMW-Z4-sDrive28i to see what it’s capable of. AC Schnitzer has taken BMW’s Z4 sDrive28i and given it a comprehensive makeover bringing out the sports car that was lurking underneath Words: Bob Harper /// Photography: Max Earey
On reflection I think I have probably been a little harsh on the second generation #BMW-Z4 over the years, but it’s a car that I’ve never fully gelled with. Conversely I was quite keen on the original Z4 — yes, its electric steering wasn’t the best and its cockpit was a little tight — but it always felt eager and sporty and was always a machine that I looked forward to driving.
Maybe I’m not really the target audience for the new car as BMW made a conscious decision to make the latest (E89) Z4 more of a cruiser than a bruiser. It said focus groups made up of owners and potential owners brought up the fact that they didn’t want a full-on hardcore sports car. Comfort and refinement seemed to come higher up the list of priorities than the ability to run rings around the Boxster. Perhaps that was the death knell for the overtly sporting Z4 though; BMW tried to make a Boxster-beater with the original Z4 and it failed. Thus the new car is seen more as an Audi TT and Mercedes SLK competitor but I’ve still struggled to get to grips with the E89.
It is more refined, the cockpit is bigger, the roof is a work of genius… but I still think it could be a little bit more sporting and retain that refinement. Perhaps the biggest disappointment for me was the arrival of the 35iS incarnation. With 340hp on tap this really should have been the answer to my prayers but to me it fell well short of my expectations and showing it a sinuous stretch of Tarmac led to a disjointed and less than satisfying driving experience. The front and rear sections of the chassis seemed to have been designed by two different people who were not allowed to communicate during the process and trying to drive it quickly was a frustrating experience.
Doubly so as when we went to Germany to sample Schnitzer’s take on the 35iS Seb reported it was an awesome piece of kit with underpinnings to provide a platform for the stunning straight-six under the bonnet. I wasn’t able to make that trip so there was always the nagging doubt that maybe Seb and I have different chassis preferences or that super-smooth German road surfaces had clouded his judgement.
Thus when Chris Rossiter who is the face of AC Schnitzer in the UK called to say he had a fullyconverted Z4 28i at his Norfolk HQ that I could try, I jumped at the chance. This was a car that was actually built by Chris as a demonstrator over a year ago and just about the first customer who drove it bought it! It returned to Chris to be sold again after the first owner decided to move on and since we went to sample it it’s already found a new owner again. And having put this Z4 through its paces I can confidently say he must have one of the best E89 Z4s in the country.
The pristine Z4 that greets us at AC Schnitzer UK is certainly a sight for sore eyes and while the Schnitzer enhancements are pretty subtle for the most part it looks very nicely done and visually at least adds some of the pizzazz missing from the standard offering. Normally I’d be having a good look at the spec sheet before driving the car but the weather forecast isn’t the best and with the prospect of more storms on the way we nab the keys and without further ado disappear off to get some pictures in the bag and some driving impressions on relatively dry roads.
Having carried out a recce before arrival we’ve found a photo location a scant distance from base and in order to keep car cleaning to a minimum we tip-toe our way around the puddles and generally drive the Z4 like your maiden aunt. When I originally spoke with Chris Rossiter he was effusive over the car’s Schnitzer suspension setup but after five minutes behind the wheel I’m beginning to wonder how his idea of a good ride and mine can be so wildly different. Bobbing along at 20-30mph the car feels stiff and fidgety over bumps and ruts and I’m beginning to wonder whether this might be a step too far in terms of setup.
As usual, though, getting the pictures takes first priority and after we’ve given the car a quick rub down it’s time for Max to work his magic with his Nikons and it gives me a chance to drink in the details and look at the spec sheet. The bottom line for the complete conversion is £12,995 – that’s a saving of nearly £2000 if all the parts were fitted separately – and that includes everything, parts, painting, labour, VAT, the lot. It’s certainly a fair chunk of cash but you can always cherry pick the parts that you like and if you visit the AC Schnitzer UK website you can find prices for each individual item, or what’s involved in the complete conversion.
As far as the looks are concerned up front there’s a carbon fibre addition to the lower front spoiler that adds just the right amount of visual drama without going over the top, although having said that in my part of London that’s infested with speed bumps I’m not sure how long it would last! There’s a new set of front wings, too, sitting aft of the front wheel and below the bonnet line that feature little cooling grilles and a ’Chromeline’ set of slats, the latter are optional and could be left off if you so desired. I’m not a massive chrome fan at the moment – it suits some cars better than others, and given the rest of the Z4 more or less does away with chrome design elements I’d be inclined to leave them off.
What does suit the car particularly well are the 19-inch Type VIII AC Schnitzer alloys that are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. These wheels can be ordered either in a traditional silver finish or, as you can see here, a silver and black bi-colour combination and they measure 8.5x19-inches at the front and 9.5x19-inches at the rear with 225/35 and 255/30 section rubber respectively. At the rear there are a pair of winglets that adorn the bootlid but other than that, bar a few decals, it’s as it came from the factory as far as styling is concerned.
One thing that’s most un-factory like is the lowered stance of the Schnitzer Z4 which is a result of the car being fitted with Schnitzer’s fully-adjustable RS Suspension setup. Ride height, compression and rebound damping can all be adjusted to suit your personal taste and I’m itching to give it a proper evaluation and start to wonder if Earey will ever finish with his cameras. The last shot to be done is an underbonnet view and two things strike me as we open up the Zed’s large clamshell. First, the engine really is set back so far in the chassis that it’s not really stretching the truth that much to call it a frontmid-engined setup, and when compared to the sixcylinder machines this must really bring about improvements in handling, especially when you consider that the 28i weighs a useful 105kg less than the six-cylinder 35i. The second thought is that I’ve yet to mention or think about the power upgrade this Z4 has been endowed with. As standard the 28i puts out 245hp and 258lb ft of torque but thanks to the ministrations from Schintzer’s boffins the tuning box that’s fitted to this car those figures have been boosted to 294 and 310 respectively. That’s just down by 12hp on the 35i version but torque’s up by 15lb ft. And if you look at the power-to-weight ratio this Schnitzer Z4 actually beats the Z4 sDrive35i with 199hp per ton compared to 193 for the six-cylinder machine. It should be rapid, too, with Schnitzer quoting a 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds (an improvement of 0.2 seconds) while a whopping 2.9 seconds has been shaved off the 50-112mph time.
Impressive stuff indeed, and now I can finally have a proper play as Max has competed the static shots and we just need to get some action in the bag. Previously I’ve taken a little time to warm to BMW’s new four-cylinder units but I don’t know whether it’s a result of Schnitzer’s ministrations or perhaps being able to hear it rather better in the Z4 but I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s not a bad little powerplant. It certainly feels every bit as fast as Schnitzer’s figures would suggest and at certain points in the rev range it’s pretty tuneful with almost a flat-four-style warble to it. The ratios in the six-speed manual seem perfectly attuned to the engine’s power characteristics, too, and it’s a joy to either chase down the redline or short-shift and let the ample torque take the strain depending upon your mood.
Perhaps the biggest revelation is the suspension setup. What felt somewhat uncompromising at really low speeds soon becomes far less intrusive as the speeds rise and by the time you’re up to cruising speed it feels just like a proper sports car – firm but by no means filling-loosening. The real improvement, though, is in the Z4’s handling and Schnitzer’s RS setup really does endow the car with the sort of behaviour you’d expect from a BMW. Even on these slippery, cold, damp roads there’s plenty of grip from the gumball Michelins but there’s a finesse that’s totally lacking from the standard car. There’s a decent level of communication coming back through the steering and any movement at the rear is telegraphed back to the driver through the seat of the pants. It’s as if the standard Z4 is operating on a dial-up system and the Schnitzer one has gone fibre-optic. I’m not feeling brave enough to switch the DSC off on the tight lanes around here, but selecting the halfway house DTC mode allows enough slip from the rear on the greasy surface to let you have a huge amount of fun without risking a car/hedge interface. It’s genuinely exciting to drive and has restored my faith in the Z4.
As I said at the beginning perhaps I’m not in the right demographic for Z4 ownership, but I love the way the car looks and it now packs the performance to match the style.
AC Schnitzer UK
Tel: 01485 542000
It’s as if the standard #BMW-Z4 is operating on a dial-up system and the Schnitzer one has gone fibre-optic.
TECH DATA #2015 #BMW #AC-Schnitzer-ACS4-28i
ENGINE: #N20 four-cylinder,
MAX POWER: 294hp @ 5800rpm
MAX TORQUE: 310lb ft @ 2500-3000rpm
0-62MPH: 5.5 seconds
50-112MPH: 11.9 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
WEIGHT (EU): 1475kg
ENGINE: 294hp performance upgrade
WHEELS & TYRES: AC Schnitzer Type VIII alloy wheels (black or silver bi-colour), 8.5x19-inch (front), 9.5x19-inch (rear) with 225/35 and 255/30 Michelin Pilot Supersport tyres
SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer RS suspension package (fully adjustable for ride height, compression and rebound damping).
STYLING: AC Schnitzer carbon front spoiler, Sports front wings with chromeline set, boot spoiler set, decals.
INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer pedal set
COST: £12,995 (complete package including all parts, labour and VAT)
There are plenty of tasty exterior upgrades on the Schnitzer Z4 from new front wings with Chromeline elements to boot spoilers and a carbon front spoiler.
If you look at the power-to-weight ratio this Schnitzer Z4 actually beats the Z4 sDrive35i.
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10 Minute Guide /// A brief guide to buying the very rapid Z4 sDrive35I #BMW-E89 . /// #BMW-Z4-E89 sDrive35i and 35is
If it’s top down motoring you want and classy sports car looks then the E89 is the car to have, and the twin-turbo straight-six version has the power to back it up Words: Simon Holmes /// Photography: #BMW-Z4
The second generation Z4 arrived in 2009 as the new and improved replacement to the original. It was more stylish, more advanced and it was bigger now that 148mm had been added to the overall length of the car. This helped create a roomier cabin space, an issue highlighted from the previous generation. In a bid to move the Z4 brand upmarket the new car was also more grown up. Gone was the fabric roof, replaced with a folding metal unit and the weedy four-cylinder engines were dropped from the line-up, as only straight-six motors provided the power. The rangetopper was the sDrive35i, powered by the N54 twin-turbo six-cylinder and it was attached to either a six-speed manual gearbox or an optional seven-speed DCT. Producing 306hp at 5800rpm it was backed up with 295lb ft of torque at just 1300rpm. In the relatively lightweight Z4 body that meant a limited top speed of 155mph and 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds, whilst fuel consumption was a respectable 30.1mpg. Xenon headlights, dual air-con, leather trim, iDrive, Dynamic Drive Control and a remote operated roof all came as standard fitment and the whole lot cost £37,060.
In 2010 someone smart at BMW decided what the Z4 really needed was more power so a mildly tweaked version of the N54 engine was fitted. Called the Z4 sDrive35is, it made 340hp at 5900rpm and produced 332lb ft of torque at 1500rpm. It came connected to the DCT gearbox only and this gave impressive performance as 62mph now arrived in 4.8 seconds. Fuel consumption remained at 31.4mpg, the same figure the normal 35i model managed with a DCT.
The cost for the new model jumped to £44,220. For that you did get the full M Sport package as standard which could be selected on a normal 35i for around £2900. That got you an aero kit, 18- inch wheels, part-electric sports seats, anthracite headlining and aluminim carbon trim. The S version also received twin exhausts with a specially tuned sound and revised steering and suspension settings. Strangely, the Z4 is the only model to continue using the N54 engine, whereas every other model changed over to the N55. It is still a current model.
Be aware that this a sports car with real performance, so don’t expect running costs to be mere pennies. Anything related to the performance, such as insurance, will be more costly although it’s not usually as bad as you might think. The turbocharged Z4 costs £285 to tax for a full year and fuel consumption should hover around the 30mpg mark with some mixed road driving if you’re relatively careful. On a run, BMW’s claim of 40mpg is possible but expect to see nearer 35mpg realistically. Around town with your foot down then low 20s or worse are common, so be aware if you’re planning to use it daily or for commuting.
Servicing isn’t too bad as the E89 shares engine parts and some suspension parts with the E8x 1 Series and E9x 3 Series, so it’s well catered for. But because it’s a performance model crucial items such as brake discs are expensive as they’re much bigger. The larger tyres are also something to take into consideration, as these items aren’t cheap when they need replacing.
Why should you buy one?
If you were looking for something fast and fun then why wouldn’t you buy one? It’s a 3.0-litre, twin-turbo sports car with over 300hp and enough usable performance to see off most things on the road. Of course, the S version takes that a step further if you want truly ferocious performance. But on both models, thanks to the larger interior and folding metal roof, the Z4 is more practical than ever. Plus there are the stylish looks that still make the grade today, being as the shape hasn’t changed. The current #BMW-Z4 really moved things forward for the brand although it is worth noting that the car is better as a super-fast cruiser than a true hooligan, but that doesn’t stop it being a lot of fun.
What goes wrong?
The N54 engine itself is generally a pretty reliable unit, it’s just the things around it and attached to it that tend to cause problems.
First of all is the high pressure fuel pump, which is known for failing. Listen out for an irregular idle or hesitation as the first signs and get it fixed quickly as they usually just die leaving you stranded after that. Second are the turbos; the wastegates are known to fail and whilst the car will still drive a distinct lack of performance will indicate something is not well. This can also be caused by split boost hoses which perish over time and as they’re cheaper it’s best to check those first. Injectors have also been known to fail and they tend to go in batches. The first sign is usually a hesitation during acceleration, then expect to see an engine management light. Other more minor issues include the odd sensor or an exhaust flap failure.
Both the manual and the DCT gearboxes are pretty bulletproof although a hesitant DCT is usually always down to a software upgrade. High mileage cars tend to go through a clutch and there have been reports of differentials failing, but it’s rare. Even so, listen out for odd noises. A clunk at the rear when driving indicates a damper or anti-roll bar bush.
Bodywork-wise there’s usually little to look out for but check the usual signs of accident damage that has been badly repaired.
On the inside there are rattles to contend with but if you can trace them they are easy to stop. Squeaky roof mechanisms are slightly more complex, though, and usually require attention from a dealer.
Other common problems are rear lights filling with water, electric windows failing to close properly and stereos going faulty. Most of these can be sorted out through a dealer with no fuss. Last of all, the optional 19-inch alloy wheels are prone to cracking on the harsh UK roads, so keep that in mind.
How much to pay?
You can bag yourself an early car with half decent miles for under £16,000. We found a manual example with 45,000 miles on it for just £15,850 with plenty of options ticked. Generally, though, if you want more of a choice then prepare to have a budget of around £17,000 to £18,000. #DCT versions are more popular so if you have your heart set on a manual you may have to wait to find the right one. 2010 cars start around the £20,000 mark and 2011 cars will cost you another £500 on top of that. If it’s the more powerful S version you want then you won’t be surprised to learn they are a lot rarer. The cheapest we found was £21,000 and prices go up form there but there’s literally a handful for sale.
The torque happy #N54 engine is a gem and it transforms anything it’s fitted to into a monster. Combined with the Z4’s sports car chassis and looks it creates a package that no other #BMW can offer. You do have to be careful, though, it’s a lot of power for the chassis so treat it with respect. The down side is the engine is most likely to cause you hassle. However, these faults aren’t as common as they are made out to be so don’t be scared off. Just find the right car with history to prove it’s been well-looked-after or better still a warranty for greater peace of mind.
TECH DATA #BMW-Z4-sDrive35i-E89 / #BMW-Z4-sDrive35iS-E89
ENGINE: Straight-six, 32-valve
MAX POWER: 301hp 
MAX TORQUE: 295lb ft 
0-62MPH: 5.5 seconds (5.4) [4.8]
TOP SPEED: 155mph
EMISSIONS: 219/km (210)
ECONOMY: 30.1mpg (31.4)
PRICE NEW: £37,060 [44,220]
figures in () for manual,
[ ] for 35iS version
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