The History Of BMW Z4

The BMW Z4 is a rear-wheel drive sports car by the German automaker BMW. Replacing the Z3, first-generation production started in 2002 at BMW's Spartanburg, South Carolina plant, with both roadster and coupe forms produced. Starting with the 2009 model year, the second-generation Z4 is built at BMW's Regensburg, Germany plant as a retractable hardtop roadster.

The first-generation BMW Z4 was known as the E85 in roadster form and E86 in coupé form. It was designed by Danish BMW-designer Anders Warming, who later made the Mille Miglia Concept car with some of the same shapes as the Z4.

The Z4's design addresses many criticisms of the preceding Z3; the Z4 is larger, and has a significantly stiffer chassis. The Z4 features a strut type front suspension like its predecessor. The rear suspension, however is considerably different from that of the Z3, which was based on that of the E30 BMW 3 Series. Instead of a semi-trailing arm suspension, the Z4 uses a more advanced multi-link suspension. It was built in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Initially, the Z4 was available only as a roadster, but in 2006 a coupé version was officially launched. The last of the first-generation Z4 to be assembled in North America rolled off the assembly line on 27 August 2008.


The Z4 offers a choice of four straight-six engines: 2.2L, 2.5L, 3.0L, and 3.2L. All are variants of the BMW M54 engine. In the European market, a 2.0L straight-4 is also offered.

The 2.2L, 125kW (170PS; 168hp) version can reach 100km/ h (62mph) in 7.7s. The 2.5L engine produces 141kW (192PS; 189hp) at 6000rpm. BMW claims a 6.8s time to 100km/ h (62mph) with a manual transmission. It weighs 1335kg (2,932lb) with a manual transmission — 30 kg (66lb) lighter than the 3.0L version, but still heavier than the 2.5L Z3's weight of 1315 kg (2899lb). The 3.0L, 170kW (231PS; 228hp) (at 5900rpm) straight six has a claimed time to 100km/ h (62mph]]) of 5.9s.

The most powerful car of the Z4 line-up is the Z4 M. It features a naturally aspirated, in-line six cylinder engine, used in the third generation of the BMW M3, producing 252kW (343PS; 338hp) at 7,900 rpm and 365N·m (269lb·ft) of torque at 4,900 rpm. 0-100 km/ h takes 5.0 seconds, and the top speed is limited to 250km/ h (155mph).

Five-speed manual gearboxes are standard on all models except the 3.0L and the M Roadster, which get a 6-speed Getrag. 5-speed or 6-speed automatic are available on all non M cars. The M Roadster shares its 6-speed Getrag 217 manual gearbox with the M3.

A Sport package, adding stiffer and lower suspension, larger wheels with run-flat tires, and Dynamic Driving control, BMW's Vehicle Stability Control system, is also available.

In 2006, BMW updated the Z4 line by installing its new N52 I6 engines. In the 3.0si, this engine makes 190kW (258PS; 255hp) and 315N·m (232lb·ft) of torque. The N52 features a magnesium block construction, which consists of an aluminum interior for the cylinders, and an outer magnesium block. The engine features BMW's Valvetronic variable valve timing system for increased performance, are considerably more powerful through the middle of the rev range, and also improve fuel economy noticeably. A final benefit of the N52 engines is that they improve handling and turn-in due to the decreased weight over the nose of the car. This is particularly noticeable when compared to the Z4 M, which continues with the heavier S54 iron block engine.

In addition to the powertrain updates, BMW made mild revisions to the styling of the Z4, added several electronic features, and increased the brake size on the 3.0si models.

The last Z4 to be built at the Spartanburg plant rolled off the production line at the end of August 2008 (on August 28th, 2008 - it was a Z4 3.0 liter Roadster in Space Grey). Production of the second-generation Z4 (E89) takes place at the Regensburg plant in Germany.

Coupé (E86)

BMW unveiled a concept coupe version of the Z4 at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2005. The design of the Z4 and Z4 coupe has variously been ascribed to Anders Warming, Chris Bangle, and Adrian von Hoydonk. The company announced on 22 November 2005 that the coupe would be available for delivery in the US starting in June 2006, including the return of the M Coupé. Production began at the Spartanburg BMW plant on 4 April 2006, and the production cars were introduced at the New York Auto Show in April 2006.

Unlike the roadster (which was offered in some countries with an engine as small as 2.0L), the BMW Z4 Coupe was only offered in a 3.0si spec with the N52 engine. The M Coupe shares its 3.2 L Inline-6 with the M Roadster. Thanks to its hatch design, the Z4 Coupe offers 10.1 cu-ft of trunk space, as opposed to 8.5 cu-ft for the roadster.

Design: The E86 Coupe features:

  • a fixed hard-top roof which yields additional torsional rigidity -- 32,000 Newton-meters per degree of body twist -- which improves driving dynamics and corner handling.
  • a 'double bubble' contoured roof which serves as an aerodynamic aid, and offers more headroom than the roadster (when closed);
  • a sleek fastback rear window;
  • an integrated spoiler shaped to deliver downforce to the rear axle at speed.

Production: In total, only 17,094 Z4 coupés (3.0si and M combined) were ever produced, compared to 180,856 Z4 roadsters.

Production of all variants of the Z4 coupe at the Spartanburg, South Carolina plant ceased on August 14, 2008.

BMW retains the Z4 moniker and announced the second-generation on December 13, 2008 for the 2009 model year. Using a retractable hardtop, the new Z4 replaces the previous roadster and coupe versions. The top is made of a two-piece lightweight aluminum shell, and takes 20 seconds to fold up or down. Manufacturing has been moved from the U.S. to Regensburg, Germany.

Three trim levels will be made available in the form of the sDrive23i, sDrive30i, and sDrive35i. The U.S. market will not receive the sDrive23i. The sDrive23i is powered by BMW's 2,497cc (152.4cuin) N52B25 I6 producing 150kW (204PS; 201hp) and 245N·m (181lb·ft). The sDrive30i is powered by the 2,996cc (182.8cuin) N52B30 I6 producing 190kW (258PS; 255hp) and 300N·m (221lb·ft). The sDrive35i is powered by a 2,979cc (181.8cuin) N54B30 twin-turbocharged I6 producing 225kW (306PS; 302hp) and 400N·m (295lb·ft).

The new Z4 will make its official debut January 11, 2009, at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The new roadster features a completely revamped interior and exterior, a retractable hardtop, and an optional 7-speed double clutch transmission. It is also the first BMW roadster to use iDrive. Compared to the previous generation Z4, the new vehicle has grown 148mm (5.8in) longer, 9mm (0.4in) wider, 2.5mm (0.098in) in wheelbase, and is significantly heavier, adding between 150kg (330lb) and 235kg (520lb) in unladen weight, when compared to the previous model.

Dieter Quester, Dirk Werner, Jamie Campell-Walter and Tim Mullen won the Silverstone Britcar 24 Hour Race with a BMW Z4 M Coupé. The unit of the racing version is modified and reinforced version of the S54B32 3.2-litre engine, delivering around 294 kW/ 400 hp. The car is made by BMW's M Division and called the Z4 M Coupè Motorsport. The Z4 Coupe Motorsport version weighs 1,200 kg/ 2,643 lb with a driver and has a 120 liter/ 30 gallon fuel tank for endurance racing. The racing kit for the Z4 M Coupé is available for € 250,000, plus VAT (391, 025 U.S. dollars) in addition to the list price of the car. The Racing Kit is very popular among N Class drivers, which also got a lot of good results in the track.[citation needed]

In August, 2008. A modified Z4 debuted in Round 6 of the Super GT season, participating in the GT300 class. Unlike other Z4, it is powered by a detuned version of the S62 V8 engine that powered the E39-Series M5. Although it is well known by fans since it has a unique image (or called "Itasha"), this car also marked the return of BMW to Super GT series since their exit from the previous JGTC. Their full-participation in the 2009 Super GT season has been confirmed, which they will introduce a sequential transmission, which almost all teams are using in their cars, to replace their H-pattern transmission used in last season.

In 2008 Super Taikyu Endurance Series (equivalent to Group N championship) in Japan, both BMW Z4M entered by Petronas Syntium Team won the Super Taikyu 1 class first and second taking both the championship and drivers title. Both cars dominated the series by taking first and second at every race in the 2008 season beating cars like Porsche GT3, Honda NSX, Mitsubishi Evolution, Mazda RX-7 and Nissan 350Z. Super Taikyu endurance races usually last for at least 500 kilometers or 4 hours highlighted by the race of the season, 24 Hours of Tokachi. In total Petronas Syntium Team gather 277 points compared to the second place team Endless Sports with a mere 98 points. The cars were driven by established and popular drivers such as Nobuteru Taniguchi, Masataka Yanagida, Manabu Orido and father and son pairing of Hans-Joachim Stuck and Johannes Stuck.

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