Reviewers Were Wrong About the E89 BMW Z4
The E89 BMW Z4 gets a bad rap. For some reviewers, it’s not as sharp as it should be. For other admittedly unevolved critics, it’s a “hairdresser’s car.” Whatever the hell that means. Still, despite having flaws, the E89 BMW Roadster doesn’t deserve quite so much slanderous sass. In fact, the second-gen Z4’s biggest problem is the Porsche Boxster.
The biggest issue with the E89 BMW Z4 isn’t its steering– it’s Porsche
Granted, the E89 BMW Z4 employs famously lackluster electric steering and an unorthodox seating position. However, even with the numb feedback and challenging dimensions, the Z4 is an eager sports car, especially at the N52 and N55 six-cylinder trims.
I’m not a racing driver. But, unlike many prideful enthusiasts, I don’t pretend to be, either. As such, I found the driving dynamics of the sun-soaked, sonorous roadster are more than sufficient for spirited drives. Even Jeremy Clarkson makes the distinction in an early review of the Bimmer. “To a racing driver, who is used to slick tyres and fish-sharp reflexes, it’s wallowy and slithery and horrid. But to me it’s brilliant. Mostly because you can drive for more than 10 minutes without your head coming off.”
So, what’s the issue with the Z4? Well, it’s the German convertible’s most frequent point of comparison: the Porsche Boxster. Reviewers quickly packed the Z4 into a box with the soft-top Porsche. Unfortunately for the E89 BMW, the heavy, electric steering-equipped Z4 was hopeless to deliver the same driver’s car dynamics as the mid-engine Boxster. The Z4 wasn’t so bad– the Boxster was that good.
That, and there’s more to vehicular fandom than steering feedback, flat cornering, and straight-line thrust. I don’t have to be the one to tell you about aesthetic appeal; if you walk away from a car and don’t feel prompted to look back at it, you’re probably in the wrong car.
If looks could kill, the E89 would have quite the body count
To some, the E89 BMW Z4’s creases, short deck, and almost cartoonish proportions make it an acquired taste. However, the all-woman design team (an accomplishment to celebrate in itself) pulled out all the stops to reshape the Z4’s aesthetics after the arguably awkward lines of the E85 Z4. Inside and out, the E89 roadster is a looker, a difficult feat with a folding metal roof.
Of course, the Z4 isn’t the first divisively styled sports car. The Toyota GR Supra, the G29 Z4’s mechanical sibling, was a stylistic challenge for some. Still, despite some polarization surrounding the Supra’s fascia, many sports car fanatics commend the Supra’s unique looks. The same rings true for the Z4’s second generation. Besides, some of you will probably take a look at a G80 BMW M3 and proclaim its buck-tooth beauty from the rooftops.
For the fans of the underrated E89 BMW Roadster, the shape and drop-top experience permit concessions. For those who can’t move past the comparisons, perhaps the E89 just isn’t for you.