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No question about it, BMW’s new Z4 is more fashionable, upscale, and grown-up-feeling than the Z3 that it replaces. But will that mean it will appeal to more people? That remains to be seen, but, no question about it, the Z4 is better in just about every way.
Introduced just a few months ago, the Z4 keeps the Z3’s same basic dimensions. The wheelbase is slightly longer, and it’s also slightly longer and wider.
Looking at the Z4’s engine specs, you’ll find that the same basic engine lineup is featured on the Z4 as with last year’s Z3 models and the current 3-Series. The two engines even produce the same power and torque figures. A 184-hp, 2.5-liter in-line six powers the 2.5i model, while a 225-hp, 3.0-liter in-line six moves the 3.0i. Both engines are all aluminum, with double overhead camshafts, the company’s Double VANOS variable valve timing, an electronic throttle, and an electronically controlled engine cooling system.
The two engines can be paired with several different transmission choices. The 2.5i model has a standard five-speed manual, with a five-speed ‘Steptronic’ automatic as optional. In the 3.0i, a new six-speed manual is standard this year, while a six-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (first introduced last year on the M3) will be available as an option on either model beginning in April.
End of the similarity
So just what else is new? While the Z4 is basically the same size, and has a similar powertrain lineup as the Z3, that’s about where the similarities end. Everything else about the new roadster is, well, new.
The completely new body and chassis structure has considerable improvements in stiffness and rigidity, and the underbody is similarly configured to the larger Z8 roadster. Strong side sills and various reinforcement plates and braces help achieve levels of body stiffness close to that of BMW’s sedans. Although the Z4 is made of steel, it has an aluminum hood for weight savings.
2003 BMW Z4Enlarge Photo