The Lockdown series continues with me and my 2 driving buddies, Alfred & David, also sharing our experiences, comments and reflections of the different cars we have owned.
David’s 15th car, brings us back to the desire and the pleasure to own a “Convertible” again. The” last convertible dance” was with a Mazda MX-5. That as we recall, brought all the elements of driver involvement, engagement, feedback, the joys of a manual gearbox and the open-air feel of a convertible.
The BMW Z4 still has a terrific style and has aged well. BMW claims to sell the Ultimate Driving Machines. So, with a manual gearbox, a sweet revving 6 cylinder engine and car that James Bond was happy to drives in the first Z3 version it adds up and makes sense. However, life is full of grey and compromises. Sometimes you can’t get what you want. Sometimes the sum of the parts don’t make a greater whole. Sometimes past dreams are not attainable. Stiffer chassis, auto & electric steering in this case enjoyable but a bit short of driving expectation for David.
If this reminds you of a special car you have owned please share your experience or just name it or just “like” ours.
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2007 BMW Z4 2.5si
0-100km/h in 6.9 seconds
I have owned the Z4 for 12 months now. I love the styling and think it is one of the best looking and distinctive cars on the road. But I have a confession to make. I just have not connected with this car. It drives well but not in the way I look for in a car.
I would be the first to admit I have been spoiled by the effervescent handling of the MX5, 86 and Golf Type R. The Z4 feels more like it is “wafting” around, a formal and elegant waltz rather than a nimble tap dance. It really only comes alive above 80km/hr and unfortunately, I do not spend enough time on twisty roads at this speed. In the traffic it feels like my Dad’s old Mercedes SEC and I feel like an old man driving it. I love the convertible experience but find the electric roof fussy and ponderous. It is well made and luxurious but lacks the fun factor of the MX5. I still think it is a very, very, good car. The problem is it just doesn’t suit my driving style (I’m sorry dear, it’s me not you). I don’t feel the burning passion to drive it like some of the other cars I have owned.
I am devastated to hear that the passion and connection to drive the Z4 is not deep within you. Do you think the manual version would have made a degree of difference to possibly change your current feelings about the Z4? The natural question that comes to mind is if and when you sell it what convertible would you replace it with? Or is the answer another Toyota 86? I am disappointed to hear for your sake that the wow factor or what you expect out of the Z4 is not there for you.
I’m not devastated. I still enjoy driving it and love the convertible experience. I’m sure a manual would help but is not the whole answer. Maybe I could play around with changing the suspension to coil overs or something but I don’t think I be bothered.
I would buy another convertible but what? New MX5 is too small. I’ve already had a NC and don’t feel like going back. 2 series BMW? I don’t know if it would give the driving experience I seek. Maybe the new 86 will come as a convertible!
The convertible ownership experience is something to date I have not experienced. (I’m working on it) So driving your Z4 was an enjoyable experience of appreciating the sense of wind, sun, sound and the feeling of being more connected to my surroundings as I drive. The Z4 does this very well when in cruise mode. Walking up to and around it, the styling is appealing, aggressive and brings out the emotions that give you the desire to take the wheel and live out your driving dreams.
We know it was difficult to get the manual option. So, the compromise,knowing the excellent condition of the car and low kms, was to buy the Auto. The manual gearbox involvement is missing, so this car though very good lacks the connection we desire. We are hard task masters. The combination of stiff chassis, the first version of BMW’s electric steering and run flats dull the feedback. It’s not till you hit the hills and put some pressure of g-forces on the chassis that the car reveals it true character. Accurately setting up for each corner with a sweet, Beemer, six engine revving freely and happily as you engage the paddle shifts. Just not providing as much feedback as we desire.
Part of the driving journey is to experience different cars and each provides elements of what we desire, some more than others. It also reinforces as you move through to the next ownership driving experience, the things that are really important to you and that you are less willing to compromise next time. There is always the thrill of the chase and sharing the driving experience is always fun.