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2005 BMW Z4 Review

by Martha Hindes

BMW Z4 Roadster
BMW Z4 Roadster

If there were one word synonymous with roadster, it would have to be "fun." After all, in a topless vehicle for two with a lengthy hood and abbreviated backside, there's not much more one can do other than drive it. It won't haul groceries or planking. It won't transport a golf foursome or a passel of kinder. It will according to BMW -- the Bavarian auto maker that put its first pair of two seaters on the road back in 1935 -- provide "wind in the face" driving pleasure -- at speed through tight mountain passes, along snaking, switchback roads.

BMW's Z4 roadster, if you'll pardon the expression, has a kind of "snort, snort" in-your-face attitude. There's a little brashness, perhaps. A bit of Matthew McConaughey-style irreverence. A smidge of Jessica Simpson's high-riding, hip hugging flaunt. Nothing vanilla.

And now, after rocking the roadster world with styling when it introduced its dramatically changed Z4 roadster two years ago that supplanted the previous generation Z3, BMW has settled into the comfort zone for 2005. Newly available are SIRIUS Satellite radio, plus the BMW iPod Adapter compatible with premium audio systems. Among other perks are some nearly-decadent options turned standard, plus newly defined options packages for the pair of inline six models. Among them, the 2.5i gains standard cruise control, fog lights, heated exterior mirrors and (would you believe) heated windshield-washer jets, plus available auto climate control and stand alone leather trim, while climate control becomes standard on the 3.0i.

For those with a lazy left foot, the 3.0i's optional six-speed sequential manual trans rips through performance playtime with steering wheel paddle shifters but without a clutch pedal. The ZSP sport package model features "Sport Button" dynamic driving control for throttle, steering and transmission settings. A performance-based roadster has got to count numbers -- or lack of -- among plusses. The 2.5-liter "2.5i" (five speed manual standard) generates 184-horsepower; the high revving 3-liter "3.0i" pumps out 225-HP. Base prices are $35,000 and $41,700 respectively. With soft-top up, the Z4 has an aerodynamic drag coefficient of a mere 0.35. That's slippery in the wind. With top down, a deflector minimizes windblast. And for those thinking practicality (when reality momentarily sets in), BMW includes full not just scheduled maintenance for four years or 50,000 miles. (That's assuming one can limit "glued to the road" driving fun to a mere 12,500 miles a year.)


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