BMW India have got almost all of their internationally lined up products in India. Some even as diverse as the BMW 5 Granturismo and the BMW X6. Hell, they even have got the BMW Z4 35i roadster in India. Wasn’t Porsche doing their bit that now even BMW are bringing it up? But then BMW is known as the niche car manufacturer for no better reason. I happened to watch a BMW Z4 near the Gateway of India recently and found it to be one of those cars which would evoke more passion than say even a Jaguar XK. The people on the roads were so flummoxed that even a particularly fidgety kid with an ice cream also stopped in its symphony and was staring at the car vroom past. And the driver obviously was used to all this attention and just pleased the crowd gathered there by blipping the throttle and making full use of the twin tail pipes. That’s when it struck me that we at Indiandrives haven’t reviewed the BMW Z4 yet and this would be the right time to get it done. A few phone calls to the BMW PR agency and we had the BMW Z4 delivered to our office in Thane. Here comes the BMW Z4 35i in India review.
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The long pointed nose of this car looks like that of a bull shark. It has got enough curves in place to shame Monica Bellucci. The twin kidney grille looks as if some one pushed its sides to the upper level. There are many creases on the bonnet and the BMW logo looks really small in front of them. The daytime running Corona head lamps give the feel of a half asleep beast. The air dams are a clear subtle affair whereas the surprisingly for the Indian version, there are no fog lamps. Going on with the performance bandwagon, the wheels are 225/40 – 255/35 18 inchers with light weight material used for their construction. As always, the wheel type is run flat. They are much in line with the spider alloys theme.
The outside rear view mirrors are also aerodynamically designed and look very much like a shark’s small fin. Like a SUMO wrestler in full fight mode, the rear of the car has a slight hump and a kink near the front wheel displays the BMW logo. This may be the first time when BMW has actually pasted its logo on the sides of the car. All those flaming design surfaces, sorry for using Chris Bangle language but then they seem very apt for this car, fit quite well into the stubby rear. The tail lamps have LEDs embedded into them whereas the boot has the stop lamp integrated into it. The reflectors are on the bumpers and there are twin tail pipes. I would have personally preferred a bigger unit of the twin tail pipes to gell with the overall look of the car. Unlike other BMWs with the monikers, this one cooly proclaims that it is a Z4 sans any variant moniker.
Like the exteriors, the interiors also boast of high class materials. Been in the Mercedes SLK recently, I can can say that this Bavarian has better quality interiors than the SLK. The SLK was sort of messy with many buttons but this one takes the piece of cake with less buttons and clearly outlined functions for the remaining. This is a sports car and hence the less the buttons, the more the appeal. The dials are typical BMW stuff but then the beauty of them lies in actually sitting inside the cabin at night. They light up very nicely and gone would be the staid looks that one experiences in the day light. The HVAC controls though looked a bit shabby. One look at the optional sports seat on our test car with its white suede leather interiors and you would be tempted to sit in it. Unlike the SLK where I had to struggle a bit to fit myself in, the BMW Z4 35i in India is a easy fit for most sizes. It is 6 way programmable as well with memory functions. Since this is a hardtop roadster, sun reflective technology has been used for the interiors. I am being told that there are so many paint coatings on the surface of the car as well as use of non abrasive materials that it adds about 9 kilos to the overall weight of the car.
The 3 spoke steering wheel has a chrome insert in the center and has got leather wrappings around it. It even has paddle shifts behind it. Not to mention the audio, Bluetooth as well as cruise controls. The talking point would be the retracting hard top. It doesn’t actually fold in the middle. The rear panel takes over the front one and they both then combine to go into the boot. The 3rd generation Idrive has a huge clear screen in the front which displays everything from the current track been played to even the instantaneous fuel economy with the distance covered and all other related parnaphelia. It sort of pops out when one actually enters the cabin. Speaking of the boot, it has a capacity of 310 liters when the top is in its place whereas with the retractable top safely tucked in the boot, this car can take in 180 liters.
Handling and ride quality
Unlike steel axles found in other cars, the BMW Z4 35i in India has got aluminium ones. BMW claims that this reduces about 30% weight whereas also providing more rigidity to the frame. This car by the way is a rear wheel driven one and the claimed weight distribution is 50:50 for the front and rear axle. This combined with the light steering(yes, it is a slightly lighter unit than those found in other BMWs) makes for a great drive. Initially I was apprehensive about the long snout but then found out later that all one needs is 20 mins to get accustomed to it. The speed sensitive steering becomes heavy once one crosses the speed of 60 kmph. It is an electronically powered unit. Like all BMWs, it delivers the best feedback and ensured that I don’t become part of the scenery of the ghat section where I was testing it. NVH is very low and even when revved high, the engine took on a muted gnarl. This may put off some of the buyers since they would be wanting a bit more of NVH from a vehicle of this caliber. Needless to say, the handling is spot on even though she under steers a bit. But then use the paddle shifters and other associated things and she obeys your command without even flinching.
As for the ride quality, she is stiffly sprung and does bother on troublesome to okay in the city. For the city use, I preferred the comfort mode whereas for the highways, it was more of sports. In the sports mode, the body roll is barely perceptible.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
The BMW Z4 35i in India is available with a single engine option as of now and needless to say, it is a petrol engine. It is a 3.0 liter unit with 6 cylinders in a line pushing 306 Bhp @ 5800 rpm whereas the peak torque of 400 Nm is generated between 1300 to 3700 rpm. The engine is mated to a 7 speed auto transmission which can act like a manual as well with the paddle shifters in place. This one even gets launch control so that there is minimal tyre screeching or losing of grip when taking off. Like all BMW engines, this engine has a nice balance of low end as well as top end torque. While in the city traffic, it didn’t disappoint with its peaky delivery and it zoomed along smoothly. While out on the highway with 306 Bhp to play with, it was always fun. To put words into figures, the 0-100 kmph dash was accomplished in just under the 5 seconds mark whereas the top speed gained was 242 kmph. The electronically limited top speed is 250 kmph but then I couldn’t stretch it to that limit due to the lack of roads. Agreed that when you touch 242, all it takes is a bit more force on the accelerator pedal and it would make you cross the 250 kmph mark but then as I mentioned earlier, we are talking about Indian roads.
The engine never seemed stressed inspite of the high speeds that it was subjected to. Infact it begged for more. The gear box is also in perfect sync with the engine and down shifts as well as upshifts based on the urgency sensed in the throttle. Brakes were fantastic and even with the new Z4 that was given to us, it had the same urgency as one would expect from a nicely run in one. They are no doubt assisted by BMW electronics namely CBC (Corner Braking Control), ABS, EBD, Dynamic Stability control, DBC (Dynamic Brake Control and also DTC (Dynamic Traction Control). Aluminium Impact Absorber bumpers, twin air bags, collapsible steering column and also 3 point seat belts round off the safety package.
Fuel efficiency for an open top would hardly matter to those willing to fork out a premium but then during the entire test, in the crowded city streets, the Z4 returned 6.7 kmpl whereas on the highway, it improved slightly to 10.2 kmpl. But then I tried my maximum to keep a light foot in the city and found that the fuel efficiency marginally climbed up to 7.3 kmpl. BMW has used their EfficientDynamics package here as well. The brakes have that regenerative energy thing in them which charges the car’s battery whereas the power steering is also more efficient in its operation.
The BMW Z4 35i in India is an everyday car. Surprised by this statement? I found it practical and even with the low ground clearance didn’t disappoint me when going over speed breakers. It can be very comfortable both in the confines of the city as well as on the highway. Where you see a gap in the traffic, it would be the first one to dart forward. Moreover, for it attracts lots of attention be it while moving or even in standstill. The open top thing would make everyone to bow down to you. I particularly loved the seat of the pants feeling at high speeds. Many would argue correctly that it is an impractical thing but then people having all those Gandhis in their bank wouldn’t care less. There is only a single variant available in India as of now and it costs a bomb. The BMW Z4 35i price in India starts at Rs 62 lakhs. For this time, I have given the on-road price of the same in Mumbai. Maybe, you would have to shell in some change as well. If I had that cash to spare, I would definitely go for this one minus the suede leather interiors as they soil easily.
Technical specifications of BMW Z4 35i
Engine details: 3.0L In-Line 6 cylinder Engine with twin turbochargers
Maximum Power: 306 bhp @ 5,800 rpm
Maximum Torque: 400 Nm @ 1300 rpm
No. of Cylinders: 6
Valve Configuration: DOHC
Valves Per Cylinder: 4
Compression Ratio: 10.2:1
Bore x Stroke: 84 x 89.6 mm
Transmission details: 7 Speed Automatic
Steering details: Electronic power assisted with rack and pinion
Front Brake Type: Ventilated Discs
Rear Brake Type: Solid Discs
Acceleration (0-100 kmph): 5.0 seconds
Top Speed: 250 kmph
Emission Norm Compliance: Euro IV
Drag Coefficient: 0.33 Cd
Alloy Wheel Size: 18 inches
Tyre Size: 225/40 R 18 (Front), 255/35 R 18 (Rear)
Wheel Size: 18 x 8 J (Front), 18 x 8 J (Rear)
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 65
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage-City (kmpl): 6.7
Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 10.2
No of Doors: 2
Seating Capacity: 2