BimmerFile Review: BMW Z4 M Coupe

For those that don ‘t know much about the car, the Z4 M Coupe is the relatively rare M Brand version of the Z4 Coupe. The Z4 Coupe (the basis of the Z4M Coupe) is the newly released coupe version of the Z4. The Z4 Coupe features a huge increase in rigidity, the addition of a hatchback, and gorgeous looks that (in these eyes) transforms the already good looking Z4 into something of an instant classic.The M version tested here features, in a word, more.

On paper the M Coupe (as it ‘s referred to by many) has it all. The E46 M3 ‘s sensuous inline six churning out 330 high-revving horsepower. M3 CSL brakes – a healthy improvement over the stock M3 stoppers. Less weight (3230lbs) and more nimble than the M3. And finally a driver focused cabin and steering wheel that puts the M3 ‘s to shame.

But how does this translate into the real world? Last week one evening, I had a chance to spend some time with the M Coupe and found out for myself.

The M Coupe is the most testosterone laced, (dare I say it) manly modern car I ‘ve ever driven. Upon entering the cabin you realize that this car is focused on one thing – driving and driver enjoyment. You sit relative low in the seats with the center tunnel higher than what is found in cars like the M3. The cabin fit my 6 ‘2 ” frame like a well formed glove, my hands falling at the controls as if the car silently confirgured itself around me. The shifters ‘ throws (no auto or semi-auto is available) reinforce the driver ‘s car feel and the hot-knife through butter actuation is what you ‘d expect from an M car. But it ‘s the steering wheel that steals the show. Thick, soft and perfect in every curve and stitch, it says driver ‘s car like few things can.

But the highlight of the interior for me are the sport seats. Incredible lateral support, extendable thigh support and quite comfortable, this is the type of seat BMW is known for.

Turning the key you get the familiar orange glow on the dash (except the speedo and tach which are strangely white) that is found in all BMWs and MINIs. The Z4 uses the E46 ‘s electronics system and thus vaguely similar to the R50/R53 MINI ‘s as well. So that means simpler radio controls and no iDrive available.

The M Coupe (like all Z4s) features a sport button that quickens response times from the accelerator. Unlike other Z4s the sport button does nothing to the steering. With the electronic steering being dumped by the M Division in favor of the M3 ‘s hydraulically assisted set-up, there ‘s no alteration possible. Luckily the steering is just about perfect as is and a marked improvement over the standard Z4. Well weighted while offering exceptional feel and feedback, it ‘s hard to find fault on public roads. The accelerator w/sport button on however, borders on almost too aggressive. Driving the car smoothly with it on takes practice that will probably elude many owners. Luckily the off position leaves little to be desired in terms of performance.

As you release the clutch and give it gas, you realize (with the sport button on) that this car doesn ‘t do subtle. It is simply a beast. And while the acceleration fantastic, it ‘s the sound the engine makes at high revs that is truly addicting. I ‘ve always loved the sound of this engine in the M3 but it still seemed a bit muted in the cabin. The M Coupe doesn ‘t do muted. You can hear the double Vanos in all it ‘s glory as it sings through the rev range all the way up to 8000 rpms.

Braking is equally impressive. The CSL sourced set-up scrubs off speed without drama. And the DSC (yes I did have it on once or twice) is calibrated to intercede only at the last possible moment. And then only subtle enough to make you believe, just maybe, you ‘re that good.

Of course with the DSC off, creating oversteer is as easy as twitching your right foot around a corner. And (like all BMWs) the M Coupe is set-up to allow for easy control of power oversteer with it ‘s near perfect (50.2/49.8) weight distribution.

The BMW M Coupe is a rare car that appeals to only a small segment of the population. It ‘s a singular focused car that trades off space and usability for ultimate performance. Yet it ‘s these visceral thrills and the packaging trade-offs that give this car a personality that is hard to find in modern automobiles. It ‘s a throw back in all the right ways. The M Coupe is civil enough to be used a daily driver yet it has a soul that belies the hard and cold numbers we so often use to measure cars.

I ‘ve had the chance to drive a number of rather interesting cars over the years. Yet few have had such profound impact on me in such a short amount of time. It flatters, scares and inspires within the space of a single corner. And like few cars sold today, it has a soul that is thoroughly endearing.

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  • Max

    Gabe,

    Great article. The M Coupe is truly a drivers car. That’s why I ordered mine sight unseen and got the first one in FL back in June 2006 as base as i could get it (no heavy power seats!).

    I’ve been enjoying it ever since… a truly rare beast by todays standards.

    PS> good luck with this new blog!

  • Jon

    Hands down, this car is the single most interesting BMW offering currently to me. Love the 1 series, the new M3 is likely to be a beast, but I just feel Bangle and the M division has made something very special here. It is unique in the BMW brand and on the market.

  • JMills

    I love this car, it’s one of the most distict & original designs out there, a true modern classic. I would love to replace my R53 with one of these.

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  • herk

    This piece does a great job of summarizing the subtle reasons why I love this car above all other Bimmers. imho, it’s the purest of the current production BMWs. I’ve spent the last couple of months debating whether or not to get a new M3 (E90/E92), but everything I’ve read about the new M3 sounds like everything that it gained from its new engine (weight/size savings, more power/torque) got wasted on the excess baggage of creature comforts and convenience options. The Z4M the soul of a true driver’s car, while it seems the new M3 has the soul of a schizophrenic or an insecure teenager–a car that’s unsure of exactly what it should be.

  • Timothy William

    Awesome car. Truly fast, with a proper sensation of speed (you do feel as if you are covering the ground at a very rapid pace). Imola Red looks stunning. One of the rarest and arguably prettiest BMW currently available (NOTE: I also love the X6 in Vermillion Red as well..worth a drive as well) This car will make you avoid motorways like the plague as it is SO good. A totally different car from the Roadster. Only true complaint is the relatively small petrol tank (especially when you are smiling!!) M Sports Seats are a bit narrow too – I don’t think I am over sized but am not inviting comment thankyou! The first 1,200 miles is very hard until the running in service. Buy one!

  • ronalt

    one of the last mohicans of the M division? the new M3 is brilliant, but way too heavy despite all weightsavings that BMW makes claim of. i consider an less than 1400 kilo dry weight car to wear the ‘sports car’ moniker with pride. this Z4 ticks all the boxes for me in finding the most balanced sports car and BMW car that is. this Z4 Mcoupe makes you wanting to go for a spin every time and again, again.. as i write this, the new Z4 has just been launched and it is soo nice too.. but i have the feeling that the Z4 M coupe WILL be one of the last pure breeds from the M division.

  • I sold my E46M3 in 2006 to buy the Z4 M coupe, this based on a visual ‘love at 1st sight’. I loved every moment of the car, however regretted not ordering it with a standard telephone kit.

    Subsequently traded it in on a fully loaded E92 M3 – Awesome motor, but felt a bit big/heavy on tight corners and never quite made me feel like jumping in just for the pleasure of ‘going nowhere…slowly’ 🙂

    After just 7 months, I succumbed and bought another M coupe, this time with extras and 19″ CSL rims. I have just completed 2,000 km’s (1.200 miles)…wish you could see the smile on my face!

    It’s an awesome car which fits me like a glove.I love driving it – hopefully the new, V8 powered version will live up to this tough act.

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  • sam

    i heard the 2002 M roadster has the motor of a M-3 for that year only which makes it unique. is that true?

  • miike c

    The z4m is the ultimate drivers car nothing else to say

  • Sam: The last production year of the Z3 M Coupe and Roadster got the S54 engine from the E46 M3. They’re starting to get a bit harder to find in good shape, but why bother when there’s the Z4 M Coupe? Besides, the Z3 M Coupe is subject to the bearing shell failure that afflicted the first year of the E46 M3, whereas the Z4 M Coupe is basically the swan song of the S54… the last car to feature what is basically the pinnacle of the naturally-aspirated M inline-6.

  • Wouter

    I have read great things about the Z4M coupe. How great is the Z4M roadster…? How does it handle on a track? I love the Z4M coupe, but I also love to be able to drive topless…

  • Rex

    Wooter, you can still drive topless. Just tint your windows and pray a cop doesn’t pull you over. lol

  • MCoop

    A lot of people will never kno what it is like to own a z4m. I boughtt mine last year october (2009). 07 model, alphine white. Stock. Have been in love with s54 z3m but wudnt run one outta mplan. The z4m has reignited my love affair with bmw. Its my daily driver, and I think it must be one of the craziest cars out there. It is a car that demands to be driven hard. Hammond on topgear said it best ‘u have to grab it by the scruff of the neck and chuck it in’.

    As u start to learn the car, u realise that it doesn’t suffer fools gladly. U have to be man enuf to fight back. It is a car that sounds as good as it looks. The new m3 as amazing as it is, is muted by comparison. This car barks and coughs and bellows. The exhaust is a cacophany of sounds that makes the hairs on the back of ur neck stand on end wen it gets close to redline, and the savagry with which it accelerates, is something that u never quite get used to. With the sport button on it feels like a four wheeled superbike.(Own a 06 yamaha r1)

    I honestly want to say thank you to bmw for making a car that really embodies what the M division stands for. The z4m is a car I wud highly recommend to anyone that wants something that will excite u, surprise u, and in some cases even terrify u, but in the end will make u a significantly better driver. It will spark ur passion for driving in a way very few cars can.

    My only hope is that my next car can live up to the exceptionally high standard the bmw z4m has set…

    • Slyall

      YES  this set of wheels is truely addictive,after  two months  of use I am  still looking for excuses to take it for a spin..its raw and rough behavior quickly raises the adrenilen level and demands agressive driver participation..

      shaun lyall 5/2011

  • Theoparks Precision

    I agree great article. I currently have an m6 which i love, but when i drove the z4 m coupe I had to have one, it is a pure drivers cars that is really unique and a classic in my eyes. High reving natural aspirated engines are the real performers.

  • Gljahn6

    I will never give up my 2007 E86 M coupe, Alpine white. I understand that production stands at 1167 made. Undoubtably a percentage have been unfortunately destroyed.

    All I  can say is this car provides me with the “ultimate driving experience” I have a hard time not getting stopped by the police as the machine tends to bring out the savage in me.

    The lines/design are art extraordinare. I think I may shed a few tears when my odometer passes the 40k mark.

    If you have been graced with owning one of these beauties of engineering; please take good care of it…they will never be replicated.

    • 03BeastCharmer

       I recently sold my Interlagos Blue M Coupe.  I miss it, but I want more room for my daily, so I’m ordering an M3 before the V3 goes out of production.  For North America, there were just over 1,800 M Coupes produced between ’06 – ’08.

      • Adam

        I’ve been looking at them, safe to say they are rare to find and rarer to see on the road.  Right now the Z4M would be perfect for me as a student, I would at the max have my girlfriend with me.  But later on though I could see it getting a bit… small not to say that I’m utilitarian but I love flexibility.  Either way I’d love to own one.  I’d say if your a BMW enthusiast you have to experience one, its a must.