First Look: 2009 BMW Z4

December 15, 2008
We present to you the first BMW Roadster with a retractable hardtop. Looking like a cool fusion of the stunning Z8 and the current-gen Z4, the 2009 BMW Z4 Roadster is bristling with new technology under both hood and retractable hardtop roof.

Two models will be offered: the Z4 sDrive35i and Z4 sDrive30i. Apparently, BMW's recent penchant for lengthy alphanumeric nomenclature remains, but we'll take the alphabet soup happily because even the base model offers 255 hp courtesy of the firm's 3.0-liter magnesium-aluminum inline-six with valvetronic technology that was first seen in the 3 Series sedan. The optional engine (Z4 sDrive35i) is the brilliant twin-turbo inline-six seen across BMW's lineup, making 300 hp in this application. Standard transmission for both models is a stick shift; the Z4 sDrive 35i has an optional twin-clutch 7-speed automated manual, while the Z4 sDrive 30i has a traditional torque converter six-speed automatic as an option.

Energy saving features, not applicable to every model, include direct-injection, regenerative braking, on-demand management of ancillary units, and a variable oil pump. Both engines fulfill the future EU 5 emission standard.

The retractable hardtop is constructed of lightweight aluminum and is electro-hydraulically operated. Time to open or close is 20 seconds, and the top includes a heated rear window.

BMW claims that head and elbow room have been increased, and ingress and egress have been improved for the 2009 Z4. For additional storage, a transverse storage compartment resides behind the seats.

The 2009 Z4 Roadster marks the first use of--groan--the maligned iDrive system in a BMW Roadster. BMW has made many improvements to iDrive since we first saw it in the 7 Series years ago, making it increasingly user-friendly, so hopefully it won't detract from the Z4's fantastic powertrains and perfectly balanced chassis.

Until we drive the new sportster, you can visit a gallery chock-full of production and spy photos of the 2010 BMW Z4 here.--Colin Mathews

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2009 BMW Z4

2009 BMW Z4

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