I think many of us enthusiasts have been urging BMW (as well as others) to produce lighter more agile cars while at the same time we do not realize how far things have in fact come. Cars have become lighter, given us more options and safety at the same time.
This leads to the question is the new Z4 really all that heavy? For a brief comparison of sorts lets take the famed Z8 for starters and then the new Z4. The Z8 was (still is to some) the top of the line BMW model not only in performance but style. The Z4 has always had these same intentions.
The Z8 (pictured above) premiered at the 1999 Frankfurt auto show to rave reviews. It ushered in the use of aluminum in the space frame and other components/body panels to reduce vehicle weight. This frame not only decreased weight but increased the cars rigidity and ability to feel the road. Propulsion was provided by the 4.9-liter V8 producing 394 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque adopted from the ///M5 of the same period. All of that power was shifted through a six-speed manual transmission as standard. For all you drag racers out there, the 0-60 time was about 4.7 seconds. The interior included leather upholstery, aluminum accents, buttons and of course retro styling. The hard top was removable and required a place for storage when not in use. No need to keep an eye on the weather as there was also a retractable soft top stowed away (Thanks Joe!). All of this state of the art (for the time) construction, lavish interior and exclusivity was sold for around $130,000. This was a limited production car.
- Weight: 3494 lbs. without top, 3554 with top.
- 53% front to 47% rear weight distribution without top.
- Length: 172.5″
- Width: 71.5″
- Height: 52″
- Wheelbase: 99″
- Headroom: 37.2″
- Shoulder room: 55.2″
Fast forward to today. The new E89 Z4 has already been acknowledge by some as one of the greatest designs BMW has offered; the car has an overall aggressive look but at the same time it is beautiful.
The new Z4 features the first 20 second automatic folding aluminum hardtop on a production BMW model. The frame is composed of advanced high strength steel which provides increased structural rigidity and weight savings over conventional steel. Aluminum has been used to reduce weight further in other areas. Powered by either a naturally aspirated I-6 producing 255 horsepower or a twin turbo six producing 300 ft/lbs. and 300hp. The available 7 speed DCT sport transmission coupled with the turbo motor will get you to 60 in 5 seconds flat. Balance and handling can be adjusted with the optional ///M suspension. Modern amenities including climate control, as well as energy saving technologies (brake regeneration) are standard. Interior space has been optimized for comfort and storage. The electromechanical parking brake system takes up less interior space than other methods. This and other techniques have made the interior significantly larger than the exterior dimensions would suggest. For a third of the price to buy and much cheaper to build than the Z8 this car may in fact be just what has been desired by us enthusiasts all along.
- Weight: 3241 – 3494 lbs. (depending on model and options)
- 49.2% front to 50.8% rear weight distribution (Z4 35i)
- Length: 167″
- Width: 70.5″
- Height: 50.8″
- Wheelbase: 98.3″
- Headroom: 39.1″
- Shoulder room: 53.3″
Utilizing these cars for this comparison shows how far we have come in such a short amount of time. Even though this Z4 appears to weigh more than the outgoing model it has also added structural rigidity and that brilliant folding roof, (almost) the best of both worlds!
In the end this comparison is not all that direct as the reviews are not out on the Z4 yet, but from what we hear it has such composure and balance that it will be a hard car to beat from a performance standpoint.
Do you still think the Z4 is too heavy or is weight becoming less of an issue thanks to other technologies and higher engine efficiencies? We would love to hear some opinions on this!