BMW Z4 coupe

With sharper responses and a more controlled feel in corners, BMW's Z4 Coupé hand­les better than the Roadster

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

With sharper responses and a more controlled feel in corners, the Z4 Coupé hand­les better than the Roadster – but it’s not perfect. The cabin is cramped and the stiff ride is disconcerting on bumpy roads. However, the 3.0-litre model makes the M Coupé look pricey, and still offers the true feel of a sports car.

Britain is on Z alert, as BMW finally unleashes its spectacular new Z4 Coupé onto our roads. The result of an ‘after-hours’ project by the company’s engineers, the two-seater promises to be one of the most rewarding driver’s cars launched this year.

It was originally unveiled at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show, and we’ve already got behind the wheel of the M-badged 3.2-litre six-cylinder model. And while the full-on M Coupé has grabbed the headlines, the new hard-top is also available with a less extreme power­plant. Now, we try the first right-hand-drive 3.0-litre version to see what the ‘entry-level’ car has to offer.

The newcomer uses one of BMW’s latest straight-six powerplants, which delivers 261bhp to the rear wheels and is accompanied by a tuneful rasp from under the bonnet. It’s not short of pace, either, as the Coupé covers the 0-62mph sprint in 5.7 seconds.

There’s a real sense of drama when you get behind the wheel, too. With its new roof, the cabin is a snug fit, and you sit far back towards the rear axle, with the Z4’s long bonnet stretching out in front of you.

On the road, the feeling of driving a raw sports car continues. This SE-spec model does without the stiff M Sport suspension, but it still struggles to smooth out bumps, making it uncomfortable on back roads and difficult to predict when cornering. However, turn into a bend and the stiffer shell means the handling is more responsive. Body roll is virtually eliminated from the equation, and each steering input delivers a direct and accurate response. Needless to say, if you push too hard with the traction control off, the rear wheels will slide.

One thing’s for sure – only drivers who want the most extreme track day car will really need to spend an extra £10,000 on the flagship M Coupé. At £31,400, the 3.0-litre model is better value, and even offers a bigger boot – the range-topper has its battery in the back.

If you like your sports cars to handle the old-fashioned way, you’ll love the thrills the Z4 Coupé has to offer.

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