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2012 BMW Z4 Performance

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Balanced handling, a civilized road ride, and smooth, relatively efficient power delivery characterize the BMW Z4's combination of luxury and sport--all married with the open-top sensation of a classic roadster and the modern convenience of a folding hard top.

A new engine is available in the BMW Z4 for 2012: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 240 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. The sDrive28i trim with the new four-cylinder replaces the previous sDrive30i 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder model. Despite the smaller engine, the new turbo four-cylinder offers nearly as much power and slightly more torque--and a satisfying driving experience. Paired with either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic, the new entry-level Z4 offers all the performance you expect in a BMW, dashing to 60 mph in just 5.5 seconds.

For those that prefer even more zip, there's the sDrive35i, which uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine rated at 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. It's even quicker than the base model, hitting 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds, or 5.0 seconds with the optional dual-clutch transmission, which replaces the automatic option in this model. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are available in dual-clutch models.

Despite somewhat disconnected steering feel, the 2012 BMW Z4 is a smart performer, with good power and balanced handling.

Yet another engine and performance upgrade remains, however: the Z4 sDrive35is. With a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine good for 335 horsepower, it's the quickest of the bunch, capable of quick 4.8-second 0-60 mph runs. The sDrive35is comes standard with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and paddle shifters.

Whichever Z4 model you choose, you'll get a balanced, controlled chassis riding on an adjustable Driving Dynamics Control suspension system that offers Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ settings. Dynamic stability control with traction control, brake fade compensation, start-off assist, brake drying, and brake stand-by features offer high-tech aids to improve driving safety and consistency.

An optional Adaptive M Suspension with Electronic Damping Control (part of the Sport Package) offers even more adjustability, readily soaking up patchy pavement yet firming up the dampers for better handling on smoother pavement.

Steering feel isn't as direct or natural as its Porsche rivals, but the Z4's is still informative without being harsh. The brakes are smooth to engage, responsive, and firm, without being touchy or grabby around town.

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