2012 BMW Z4 sDrive28i review
Highs and lows
- Gorgeous looks.
- Listen to that turbo spool!
- Hardtop great in all seasons.
- Virtually no storage.
- Virtually no trunk when the top is down.
- Rather large blind spot when the top is up.
A turbo-powered tease
The first time I got behind the wheel of a BMW Z4 was about six years ago. I had just started off in the business and I, of course, immediately fell in love with the little roadster. At the time, I tested the 3.0L and couldn't believe the power, responsiveness and driveability of it. Then I thought perhaps I was just easily swayed as I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and new to the industry and cars in general.
Well, six years later and my love for the BMW Z4 has yet to fade. Since then, I've driven about four or five more Z4s in various trim levels and with different engine configurations and it has yet to disappoint.
The latest iteration, the 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive28i, might be the most perfect Z4 yet. While not even the top of the line Z4 available right now, it felt like it could have been.
The Z4 is not the only convertible I've driven over the years. From Mustangs to MX-5s, MINIs and even Volvos, I've been in my share of drop-tops. However, I always seem to get the most attention and looks in the Z4 (both good and bad). It's a head-turner, no doubt about it. Sumptuous lines, low-slung and oh-so sexy, the BMW Z4 is stunning -- there's really no other word for it. And in Mineral Metallic White with a Cohiba beige leather interior, it truly was a looker.
The beauty of cars is all in the proportions: just like a human face. We see beauty where we see symmetry and balance. The same is true in the automotive world. It's all about harmony and the lines of the car working together. Well, do they ever work together on the 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive28i. It's like a symphony of design elements coming together in one fluid, almost liquid-like form.
Roof up or down, the Z4 makes you take a second look. The hard top, while convenient, seems a bit slow to operate at times. And the fact that you have to leave your hand on the button to operate it is a bit obnoxious. However, it sure beats unclipping a cloth roof and storing it in the trunk yourself.
Inside, the Z4 is bare bones, but not to MX-5 extremes. Power-adjustable seats and iDrive are really all you need when it comes to driving the Z4. As far as storage goes, if you purchase the 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive28i you are not doing so because the trunk is cavernous so talking about cupholders and cargo space is pointless. My tester was outfitted with BMW's 8-speed automatic gearbox, and even that is sufficient enough.
Oh that sound
That's the thing, even in automatic trim this car is an absolute joy to drive. Not once did I long for a clutch (though I've heard from an esteemed colleague that once I drive the Z4 stick shift, I'll never want any other transmission). So good is the automatic that I was sure I had BMW's dual-clutch system, which I didn't. Shifts happen quickly and efficiently, especially in "Sport" mode. Steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters are ideally located, and should you wish for an even faster shift, stomp the throttle quickly for an uber-fast downshift for overtaking.
Sporting BMW's new 2.0L L4 TwinPower turbo engine, the 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive28i is wonderfully quick. In all honesty, it wasn't even the power of the turbo that had me gaga, but the sound of it working hard to suck in all that air and push out 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.
On the notes of aural pleasure; the sheer sound of the BMW Z4 sDrive28i will make you want to floor it wherever you go. From the glorious whistle of the turbo spooling to the blipping, barking exhaust, the Z4 sounds fantastic. Driving with the top down makes the aural symphony that much better, but even with the top up the spool is audible and the exhaust note is still smile-inducing. If nothing else, I'd spend the near $70k just to listen to the Z4 every single day. Honestly, I would (though a recording on my iPhone might be slightly more economical).
For the sheer pleasure of the drive
BMW really didn't make many changes to the Z4 for 2012. Essentially, it's the same car (but with a smaller engine that's just as effective -- if not more -- than the previous generation) and that's just fine by me. Sometimes, automakers get it right the first time and it's a wonderful thing when they realize that themselves.