The BMW convertible Z4 M40i test drive was actually great. Gone are the days when customers yearned for the wind in their hair exhaust noise filling their ears. Instead, the modern car buyer wants something sensible, efficient, high-tech and kind to the environment. In this new world of efficiency and sensibility, a two-seat, drop-top sports car just doesn’t make much sense.
There’s really only only one purpose for a roadster. Though sizes and shapes may vary, prices and luxuries may too, the only constant should be fun. And a fun roadster can be had in many different forms. You have ultra expensive muscle car versions, like the Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster. There are mid-engine, scalpel-sharp versions, like the Porsche Boxster. You even have simple, inexpensive and honest roadsters, like the Mazda MX-5. So roadsters come in all different flavors; varying in size, shape and price. But the essence of a proper roadster is the thrill it gives the driver. And the new BMW Z4 M40i is a surprising thrill.
Powering the BMW Z4 M40i is a 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six engine making 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque and I can honestly think of no better engine for it. In a car as small and light as the Z4, the B58 engine turns it into a hot-road. While it might look like a delicate sports car, something with proper European manners, it’s actually more of a muscle car than anything else and it’s absolutely hilarious.
All of its torque comes on like a sledgehammer, from low in the rev range all the way until its peak horsepower kicks in at the top half of the tach. From there, it keeps pulling and the BMW Z4 M40i can get from 0-60 mph in a claimed 3.9 seconds. I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually shave a couple of tenths off of that. While it might not be quite as fast as something like an M2 Competition in the real world, it feels more explosive.
But what makes Bavarian’s hot-rod engine even more special in the BMW Z4 M40i than in, say, an M340i, is the noise. More specifically, the fact that you can hear the noise without the nuisance of a roof interfering with it. With the top down, you can hear the engine’s full song and it sounds incredible. In my humble, and likely unwanted, opinion, the Z4 M40i is the best sounding BMW on sale. It’s deep and burbly at idle but it builds into a raspy, metallic crescendo and all of it can be heard sans roof. It’s just wonderful.
Actually, The Z4 steers with better precision than the TT RS, though. thanks to extremely aggressive front-end grip and a quick steering rack. But because the chassis is also well balanced and the back end likes to play, it will change directions very quickly, almost too quickly. It’s not hard to get its tail to step out but, thankfully, it’s easy to control and even to hold.
Most importantly, it sounds good all the time. You don’t have to be in a certain mode, you don’t need to be near redline and you don’t have to be traveling at lose-your-license speed to enjoy it. It sounds great in all manners of driving and it makes even the most mundane of trips that much more interesting and exciting. Sure, sportier drive modes increase the noise but it even sounds great in its quiet, Comfort mode. Every opportunity to drive the BMW Z4 M40i is an event, something to look forward to. It will make you find excuses just to drive it.
However, it’s not the most engaging car to drive quickly. The BMW Z4 M40i is not a momentum car, where you want to carry a ton of speed through corners and it’s not going to flow beautifully down a canyon road like a Porsche Boxster will. It’s just not that sort of car. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, though. It’s far too fun, far too exciting a car to care about how practical it is. Plus, the Z4 is a toy. It’s something to take out on the weekends to play with. It’s not a car that needs to be practical in any way, shape or form. So just sit back and enjoy the fun.