BMW Z4 M 40i is a highway star
Like the rush motorcycle lovers get cruising around highways, or runners get on long-distance marathons. That's whom this car is meant for -- enthusiasts who want nothing to get between them and the thrill of driving, says Pavan Lall.
Photographs: Courtesy BMW
If you think roadsters are out of place in India, think again. There are at least half a dozen variants of these sporty two-seaters from Porsche, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar currently on sale in the country.
BMW's all-new Z4 M 40i now joins the growing category.
The earlier variant of the roadster from the German automaker, the Z4 (marketed as the "Landshark"), was launched a decade ago.
The new version is an expression of how the BMW interprets driving experience for car-lovers who want precious little to come between them and the tarmac.
Slung super low, but with a ground clearance that handles everyday streets with ease, the Z4 M 40i is strong and sinewy with a torso as muscular as it is aerodynamic.
The design, which includes an aggressive, large kidney grill set in a metallic honeycomb façade, is reminiscent of Jaws, the Bond villain in Moonraker.
Inside the cockpit, the car is minimalistic but equipped with the typical Bimmer accoutrements that include entertainment and different driving modes.
One could argue that the space could have been extended, given that the compartments are restricted to a couple of coffee holders, a glove box and a cubbyhole under the radio for stashing keys, glares and the wallet.
If you're thinking of taking your laptop or gym bag along when there's someone in the passenger seat, it'll have to be thrown into the trunk where, too, space is limited if you have a spare tyre.
While the steering wheel is sporty and thick, I was surprised to note the absence of a mechanical steering wheel adjuster.
It's manual and seems anachronistic for a car this expensive and advanced.
With a horsepower of over 300 under the hood, this two-seater is powered by a straight six-cylinder engine.
That's perhaps too much power for city driving and requires some getting used to.
BMW boasts that this convertible's top comes down faster than anything else in its category. I tested it and found it to be indeed quick.
The top can also be activated while the car is in motion at speeds of up to 50 kmph, making the drop-top practical during surprise bursts of inclement weather.
The Z4 M 40i drives as any roadster should -- low and well-planted to the ground with the driver in control of substantial torque.
On long, solitary drives on the highway or in the countryside is how this vehicle will be best enjoyed -- with the top down, of course.
The bonnet is large enough to be used as a set for a Kingfisher calendar photo-shoot and while that's great when the car is parked, it's tricky when commuting in the city.
Driving in and out of alleys and navigating the parking lots of apartment complexes is made harder since you cannot see the end of the car's nose.
That means you have to be extra cautious about how you swerve around pillars and concrete beams, and go very slowly when manoeuvring clutter --of which there's always plenty.
As one would expect from the carmaker from Munich, its safety alerts and guidance systems are technologically advanced.
A man darts out on the road in front of me in traffic-congested Mumbai and the car rapidly beeps a warning along with a red flashing light in the shape of a human on the digital dashboard in front of me.
Minutes later, as I pull out of a sticky lane and move on to Marine Drive, a small triangle on the side-view mirror lights up in yellow and starts flashing.
I look at it and see a car close behind me. Safety mechanisms such as these, I feel, ought to be integrated into all cars, in every price bracket.
So, what makes car lovers flip over convertibles, considering that in India there are so many things that could go awry? Someone chewing tobacco could miscalculate their aim while spewing red on the world.
Or an adventurous arm could lean over from a passing vehicle and relieve you of that pair of dark glasses in the passenger seat.
Well, all this may be possible, but then there's something exhilarating about driving with the top down.
Like the rush motorcycle lovers get cruising around highways, or runners get on long-distance marathons. That's whom this car is meant for -- enthusiasts who want nothing to get between them and the thrill of driving.
Spec Sheet: BMW Z4 M 40i
Engine: BMW TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder petrol engine
Power: 340 hp
Torque: 500 Nm
Transmission: Steptronic Sport Transmission
Top speed: 250 kmh
No of cylinders: 6
Displacement CC: 3 litres
Acceleration: 0-100 kmh in 4.5 seconds
Kerb weight: 1,600 kg
Price: Rs 78.9 lakh (Ex-showroom)