With its sleek curves, luxurious cabin and athletic performance capabilities, the 2011 BMW Z4 is again one of the top luxury roadsters on the market. But there's more to the latest Z4 than its smooth and powerful engines and head-turning good looks. It also features a big trunk (when the top is up), a convenient quick-folding hardtop, a comfortable ride and outstanding, unroadster-like visibility.
While the midengine Porsche Boxster may reign supreme when it comes to pure road dynamics, the Z4 takes the top spot when one factors in comfort, luxury and refinement as well as performance. From its retractable hardtop, to its more spacious interior, to its better bump absorption, to its excellent rear visibility and luxurious surroundings, the Z4 earns a wider range of consumer appeal.
New for 2011 is the top-of-the-line, higher-performance sDrive35is model which features an extra 35 horsepower from its twin-turbo inline-6, an enhanced steering system and an M Sport package that includes a more aerodynamic exterior, adaptive suspension dampers, sport seats and 18-inch wheels (this package is also an available option on the other Z4 models).
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2011 BMW Z4 is a two-seat luxury roadster offered in three trims, differentiated by their engines: sDrive30i, sDrive35i and sDrive35is.
Standard features on the sDrive30i include 17-inch wheels, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, a fully powered retractable hardtop, adjustable sport driving settings (steering, throttle and automatic transmission if so equipped), 6-way adjustable seats (manual), cruise control, automatic wipers, automatic adaptive xenon headlights and an audio system with a CD player, HD radio and an auxiliary audio jack.
The sDrive35i model adds a more powerful engine, automatic climate control, sun-reflective leather upholstery and brushed aluminum interior trim accents.
Moving up to the sDrive35is adds a still more powerful engine, enhanced steering, a dual-clutch automated manual transmission and the M Sport package, which includes 18-inch wheels, adaptive suspension dampers, an increased top speed, the aerodynamic body kit, 10-way manually adjustable sport seats with a power bolster adjustment, and a thicker M steering wheel.
There's also a number of available optional packages. The regular Sport package for the 30i and 35i includes the suspension, increased top speed, 18-inch wheels (on the 35i) and sport seats. The Cold Weather package is offered on all models and includes heated seats, a heated steering wheel, a trunk pass-through and retractable headlight washers. The Premium package adds power seats, auto-dimming mirrors, Bluetooth, BMW Assist telematics, and on the 30i, automatic climate control and leather upholstery. The Premium Sound package includes a 14-speaker audio system with satellite radio, two subwoofers and an iPod/USB adapter.
Many of the package features are available as stand-alone options, as are front and rear parking sensors, navigation (includes the iDrive electronics interface), Comfort Access keyless entry, automatic transmission shift paddles, automatic high beams and a 6-disc CD/DVD changer. In addition, 19-inch wheels are available on the 35i and 35is.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
Powering the 2011 Z4 sDrive30i is a 3.0-liter inline-6 that's good for 255 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a standard 6-speed manual transmission while a 6-speed automatic is optional. BMW engineers estimate that a manual 30i will go from a standstill to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds. The EPA-estimated gas mileage for the 30i is a very respectable 18 mpg city and 28 mpg on the highway with either transmission.
Under the hood of the Z4 sDrive35i is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that delivers a robust 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. It's coupled with the standard 6-speed manual transmission while a dual-clutch 7-speed automated manual is optional. Its EPA-estimated gas mileage is 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with the manual, while the automated manual comes in at 17 and 24, respectively. In performance testing, the manual 35i went from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds.
Powering the Z4 sDrive35is is a revised version of the 35i's twin-turbo engine that pumps out a hefty 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. It also features an overboost function that can temporarily boost torque to 369 lb-ft. The dual-clutch automated manual is standard and BMW estimates a 0-60 mph time for the 35is of an extremely quick 4.7 seconds. The estimated fuel gas mileage for the 35is is 17 mpg city and 24 highway.
Standard safety features on all the Z4s include, stability control, antilock brakes (ABS) with brake assist and side impact airbags. In addition, BMW Assist emergency telematics is an available option for all models.
For rollover protection, behind each seat there is a steel hoop. The hardtop roof is made of aluminum and also includes a structural support system for additional protection should a rollover occur.
The cabin of the 2011 Z4 is decidedly upscale and sports a sharp and stylish design. The materials quality is topnotch and the construction quality is superb, creating a luxurious environment. And surprisingly, the Z4 has been engineered in such a way as to provide plenty of legroom and storage space, both totally uncommon in this segment. Seating is also both very comfortable and supportive.
The Z4's two-piece hardtop folds into the trunk in just 20 seconds with the simple push of a button. Thanks to large rear windows, visibility is exceptional for a roadster when the top is up, virtually eliminating the traditional convertible blind spots. Trunk space is also large with the top up, actually able to accommodate a couple of sets of golf clubs. Even with the top lowered into the trunk, its deepness still allows a decent amount of room for a suitcase while its pass-through allows room for longer items such as skis and golf clubs.
Every available model of the 2011 BMW Z4 provides an engaging and entertaining driving experience due to their remarkably smooth engines. Also notable is the Z4's adjustable driving settings that adjust throttle response, steering effort and, if optioned with an automatic model, shift response. The normal mode is great for driving around town, while the Sport and Sport+ settings definitely raise the fun-factor in the appropriate environments.
To get the top performance from a Z4, true driving enthusiasts are advised to opt for the new M Sport package (standard on the 35is, optional on the others) if the budget can swing it. Again, despite its performance packages and adjustable settings, the 2011 Z4 is not as road-dynamic as the Porsche Boxster. But measuring the overall roadster experience of performance, plushness and space, the Z4 is unmatched.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.
Those of you in the market for a used car may want to check out this article about how to buy a used car at the lowest price. It details a super effective buying method, one that often beats down prices to wholesale levels.
And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.
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2011 BMW Z4 Convertible:
sDrive30i, RWD: list price: $46,000, invoice price: $42,320
sDrive35i, RWD: list price: $51,900, invoice price: $47,750
sDrive35is, RWD: list price: $61,050, invoice price: $56,165