The BMW Z4 is a rear-wheel drive sports car by the German automaker BMW, known as the E85 in roadster form and E86 in coupe form. Production started in 2002, and thus replaced the BMW Z3. The design addresses many criticisms of the Z3; the Z4 is larger, and has a significantly stiffer chassis. It was built in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Initially, the Z4 was available only as a roadster, but in 2006 a coupé version was officially launched.
The last of the Z4 line to be assembled in North America rolled off the assembly line of BMW's Spartanburg, South Carolina plant on the night of August 27, 2008. Production of the next-generation model is expected to shift to the automaker's plant in Regensburg, Germany.
The Z4 was designed by Chris Bangle and began the controversy over his "flame surfacing" design and aggressive styling choices, which can also be seen on most modern BMW cars, most noticeably the 7 Series and 5 Series. As of 2007, the entire BMW car line, including the BMW 3 Series and X5 SAV, had incorporated Chris Bangle's design theme.
The Z4 features a strut type front suspension like its predecessor, the Z3. The rear suspension, however is considerably different from that of the Z3, which was based on that of the E30 BMW 3 Series. Instead of a semi-trailing arm suspension, the Z4 uses a more advanced multi-link suspension.
The Z4 offers a choice of four straight-six engines: 2.2 L, 2.5 L, 3.0 L, and 3.2 L. All are variants of the BMW M54 engine. In the European market, a 2.0 L straight-4 is also offered. The 2.2 L, 120 kW (170 bhp) version can reach 100 km/h in 7.7 s, but is not sold in the United States.
The 2.5 L engine produces 141 kW (192 bhp) at 6000 rpm. BMW claims a 0 to 60mph acceleration time of 6.1 seconds for the BMW Z4 regular, and 4.9 seconds for the Z4 M. time to 100 km/h (62 mph) with a manual transmission. It weighs 1,335 kg (2,932 lb) with a manual transmission—30 kg (66 lb) lighter than the 3.0 L version, but still heavier than the 2.5 L Z3's weight of 1315 kg (2899 lb).
The 3.2 L motor produces 246 kW (330 bhp) at 7900 rpm and (262 ft·lbf) of torque at (4900 rpm)
The most powerful car of the Z4 line-up is the Z4 M. It features a naturally aspirated, in-line six cylinder engine, used in the third generation of the BMW M3. It produces 340 bhp at 7900 rpm, and 365 nm (270 lb-ft) of torque. 0-100 km/h takes 5 seconds, and the top speed is limited to 250 km/h.
Five-speed manual gearboxes are standard on all models except the 3.0 L and the M Roadster, which has a 6-speed Getrag. 5-speed or 6-speed automatic are available on all non M cars. The M Roadster shares its 6-speed Getrag 217 manual gearbox with the M3.
A Sport package is also available, which adds stiffer and lower suspension, larger wheels with run-flat tires, and Dynamic Driving control, BMW's Vehicle Stability Control system.
In 2006, BMW updated the Z4 line by installing its new N52 I-6 engines. In the 3.0si, this engine makes 190 kW (255 bhp) and of torque. The N52 features a magnesium block construction, which consists of an aluminum interior for the cylinders, and an outer magnesium block. This produces an engine block that weighs only 50+ pounds. The engine features BMW's Valvetronic variable valve timing system for increased performance, are considerably more powerful through the middle of the rev range, and also improve fuel economy noticeably. A final benefit of the N52 engines is that they improve handling and turn-in due to the decreased weight over the nose of the car. This is particularly noticeable when compared to the Z4 M, which continues with the heavier S54 iron block engine.
In addition to the powertrain updates, BMW made mild revisions to the styling of the Z4, added several electronic features, and increased the brake size on the 3.0si models.
BMW unveiled a Bangle-designed concept coupe version of the Z4 at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2005. The company announced on November 22, 2005 that the coupe would be available for delivery in the US starting in June 2006, including the return of the M Coupe. Production began at the Spartanburg, South Carolina BMW plant on April 4, 2006, and the production cars were introduced at the New York Auto Show in April 2006.
Production of all variants of the Z4 coupe at the Spartanburg, South Carolina plant ceased on August 14, 2008.
In August, 2008. A modified Z4 with will be participating in the Super GT season for GT300 class. Unlike other Z4, it used the M5's engine instead to fit the race regulation. Although it is well known by its unique paint image from their sponsor, this car also marked the return of BMW to Super GT series since their exit from the previous JGTC.
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