Page 1: Intro
Paddles, not pedals. That's the way Formula One cars shift gears, and the technology has slowly trickled down to production models. In the ranks of thirty-something thousand dollar sports cars, two players currently offer the option of shifting when you please, while saving your left foot for walking. Audi introduced their Direct Shift Gearbox to the TT 3.2, and BMW brought out their Sequential Manual Gearbox as a mid-model year addition to the 2003 lineup.
The roll-out of SMG brings the transmission count to four in the Z4 lineup, out-distancing the engine choices by a factor of two. The $34,295 base roadster gets a 2.5 liter, inline six, rated at 184 hp, 175 lb. ft. of torque. The 2.5 with five speed manual is capable of a 7.1 second, 0-60 time, with a top speed of 146 mph. Dial up the sticker to $41,595, and the engine choice becomes a 3.0 liter six, with 225 hp, and 214 lb. ft. of torque. The 3.0i with six speed manual posts of 0-60 best of 5.9 seconds, and a governed top end of 155 mph.
The five and six speed manual gearboxes are standard issue on the 2.5 and 3.0., respectively, and both engines can be had with optional five speed automatic Steptronic or six speed Sequential Manual. My test car was a 2.5i with SMG.
BMW's 2.5 is a polished performer, with a wide, well stocked power band. Though the 3.0s' added muscle is enticing, we think most drivers would be very happy to drive the 2.5 and pocket the $7,300 difference.