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2006 BMW Z4

2006 BMW Z4 New Car Review
Martha Hindes

BMW Z4 Interior

In the "I can't wait" category, the winner this spring would have to be the redesigned BMW Z4 for 2006. This is the long-anticipated new sports coupe/roadster combination meant to pull every sports car enthusiast back from the brink of buying something else. With a gutsier powerplant underneath and a new, svelte bod many have called stunning, it dismisses previous, sometimes maligned, snortier looking "Z" predecessors. The roadsters and later arriving coupes should banish any bad memories, especially in supercar intender "M" designation.

BMW wins bragging rights with a combo of power, performance and inspired design. Styling has contours molded and sculpted with clean edged surfaces that lend the cachet of a Henry Moore sculpture. Consider it the classy look of Audrey Tatoulan, lending elegance to an enigmatic DaVinci Code showing with the hint of another long ago cinematic Audrey (Hepburn). Or newbie Brit Sienna Miller manipulating Yankee fans and fashion with a breezy room-dominating entrance.

But driver's car has to be the major story, since BMW and precision performance are almost synonymous. First on sale in January were two inline six roadsters, the 215-HP 3.0i and 255-HP 3.0si, followed by a 255-HP coupe model in June. While standard coupes and roadsters ride on BMW's improved magnesium/aluminum Valvetronic six, the M versions have BMW's "thoroughbred performance," 3.2-liter,330-horsepower inline sixes under the hood. BMW says they generate smoothness and a distinctive sports car sound unmatched by most V-6 engines. (BMW's "V" engines are reserved for 8, 10 or 12 cylinders.) Reduced weight and compact dimensions enhance performance, while increasing fuel efficiency and emissions control. All are limited by a governor to 155 miles per hour. (That's still fast enough to get into a heap of trouble on this side of the Atlantic.)

These "Bimmers" come standard with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic with BMW's staple, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Base prices range from $36,295 for the 3.0i roadster to $51,995 for the roadster "M," with hardtop coupes in between, before new system and other upgrades. Without going into the real of exotics, this could be the road commanding BMW that fills the bill.