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.
Page 2: Quad burn
Page 3: SMG
No matter what power train you pick, the platform remains the same and you'll hear no complaints about that. The chassis is stiff, weight balance is 50/50, suspension and steering beautifully dialed in. Ride quality is firm but stops short of harsh, and the brakes just plain stop short.
A finely balanced package, in a controversial wrapper. More edgy than pretty, the roadster marries classic sports car dimensions to radical chic sheet metal. Some will love it, some will hate it, no one will be indifferent. More than a year after its début, the Z4's slash cut styling is still inspiring debate, which might be one reason why BMW took the polarizing path in the first place. There's little debate on the basics, though. The Z4 is a finely tuned sports car with a pair of sweet six engines, and the capacity to be as shifty as you wanna be.
Page 4: FAQS
SMG was pioneered in Formula 1 competition and is predominant in that sport today.Why is SMG popular?
It offers a new kind of actively enjoyable driving, and fascinating new things for an enthusiast driver to learn. Plus, there's the fun and control of picking your own gears, without the quad burning workouts.
How many transmissions are available in the Z4 lineup?
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.
Page 5: Notes
As tested: $45,885Showroom appeal: BMW balance in two seat roadster form
Plus: Smooth six, well sorted chassis, styling
Minus: SMG shift lag in auto mode, styling
The Competition: Nissan 350Z, Porsche Boxster, Audi TT, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Chrysler Crossfire
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