Test Drive and Review of the E86 (Z4) M Coupe
06-23-2011 at 10:41 AM - Test Drive and Review of the E86 (Z4) M Coupe
Per request by admin :
A new personal goal of mine (slightly below graduating engineering school and landing a good job on my list of things to do) is to buy a Z4 M Coupe, preferably one of the 48 Space Gray ones with Carbon Fiber Leather trim and the Premium Package. 29 such cars exist in North America. I guess I'll "settle" for just about anything else but Imola Red, as long as it's got the CF trim and PP. Here is the background leading up to the establishment of that goal:
It begins in an XC90, driving with my friend to the local Mazda dealer to pick up a key for his FC RX-7 (that car is entirely another story, or twelve). He makes the purchase ($12!), and we head out. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of a machine of phallic proportions! It's a Z4 M Coupe in Sapphire Black Metallic with "Arizona Special" chromed OEM wheels (which are disgusting). Regardless, I must drive this vehicle.
The next day, we head down in my car. The Coupe is parked right out front, literally in the entryway, clearly there to attract attention. Of course, a salesman immediately approaches and starts talking as soon as I park. He begins rambling about their latest lease deal on a new Civic, but his tone changes as soon as I mention the sole BMW on their lot (excluding my own, of course).
I should now take a step back and mention that I'm just 21 and a college student. His skepticism is understandable, but I think I can squeeze a drive out considering I drove up in a very clean, decent looking, and fairly loud E39 540i. He says, "Well we're trying to not take that car out so much unless you're a seriously interested buyer." Here's where I stretch the truth a bit. I genuinely want to evaluate the feel of the car, not just joyride around the block on the rev limiter. Thus, I don't feel too bad about saying, "I'm graduating soon [in a year, really] and I was just offered a job [internship, actually] in the engineering industry, so I'm seriously looking for a new car to replace that one," as I point at the old 5er. Success: he goes inside to grab the key. Do I feel guilty? Sure, a bit, but like I said: I honestly had zero interest in beating on the thing.
The Interior Feel
The salesman comes back out with the key and I am allowed entry into a cocoon of near-perfection. The seats are the best I have felt in any BMW - at least those with sporting pretensions. They are barely snug and certainly not uncomfortable (I'm 5'11" and something like 150 lbs - not exactly a heavyweight). The central placement of the handbrake is slightly awkward, in my opinion. The shift action, on the other hand, is again the best I have felt in any BMW. It certainly topples the old 540 in every respect - the throws are short, the action precise, and the engagement satisfyingly metallic. Dare I say, it's on par with the Cayman and almost S2000-like (if you've never driven an S, don't hate!).
[Tap-tap-tap!] Oops, I forgot to unlock the passenger door for Jim-Bob (or whatever) the salesman. He is slightly old, more than slightly overweight, and as he attempts to fold himself into the M's bucket it becomes quite clear that his joints are severely creaky.
The time has come to fire the S54. Ignition on, clutch in, check neutral, turn key. The variable redline (or yellow line, rather) is already at 7500 and the oil temperature is smack in the middle of the gauge. Already warmed up, I see. It's quite warm out, so Jimbo immediately begins fiddling with the climate control, trying to figure it out. I solve this issue by dropping the windows and cranking the knob fully counterclockwise to "OFF." I'd rather listen for any squeaks, rattles, or glorious straight-6 ITB howling, thank you very much. I dip the clutch, select first, and we're off.
I'm driving like Granny Smith, getting a feel for the controls. My first 1-2 shift is terrible - oh yeah, the dreaded CDV. I had one of those once. Jimbo says he has a route laid out and since I'm not actually buying the car, I agree to follow it. I try talking to him about the machine we're occupying but he is stone-faced, only saying he doesn't know much about "this particular model." His son has a Z3 1.9 so that's sort of similar. Sure, whatever you say Jim-Billy-Bob.
The next road is a higher limit so I shift 1-2-3 and give it a judicious application of throttle in 3rd at low revs. Wow, it pulls quite a bit harder than I expected at 2 grand. I attempt heel-toe-ing back down at the next light but simply make a fool of myself again. I then remember the little button forward and to the left of the shifter: it reads "SPORT." Yes, please. Button pressed.
The Good Part of the Drive
The next straight is a freeway on ramp where I feel obligated to indulge and revel in 3.2 liters of individual-throttle-bodied, 8000-rpm, 330-horsepower goodness. Billy-Bob in the passenger seat seems to agree, saying that this is the best place to accelerate hard. Rolling through the corner and onto the straight in first, I short shift to second and give it the beans. A deep growl reverberates throughout the cabin as the revs climb. 4, 5, 6 thousand and the growl becomes a symphony. 7, 8 thousand rpm and [click-click] into third as the pistons pound out their sonorous mechanical music. Up through 6 and 7 thousand again and I think I see Bobby-Joe over there crack a smile. Into fourth at 7500 and I think that's enough speed for now. Robert E. Lee instructs me to get off the next exit. "Yes, sir," as I shift to sixth. Had he not told me to accelerate hard and smiled at the prospect of it, I would not have taken the off-ramp the way I did.
Said ramp does a nice little left-right chicane near the end into another right-hander with a yield sign onto the main road, which currently has a red light. I downshift back to fourth, brake late (late for street driving, anyway), heel-toe to third and down to second at high revs. That sport button works wonders on throttle response! I'm nowhere near the limit of adhesion, but old Cletus is definitely grinning now as I flick left and right, then clip the second right apex and accelerate through second, select third, then brake back down to 50 mph and drop it back to sixth. Jesus, this car feels absolutely fantastic. My job is done here.
I drive slowly (read: like a human) back to the dealer and park the car, where Henry-Earl thanks me for the experience. He says he never knew what kind of a car it was, always thinking it was just some fancy shiny foreign job (he was old and more than slightly redneck, to be fair - if you couldn't tell by the names I've been giving him). I thank him for his time and tell him I will hopefully be back before they sell it to someone else. I honestly wish it would have been possible for me to make it back before someone else could buy it, but it definitely wasn't to be - not this time.
At this point I'm being 100% sincere - all I wanted to do was hear it and maybe take a corner at 6/10ths, but he gave me the opportunity to enjoy the full M Coupe experience and share it with someone who truly enjoyed it, maybe even more than I did. It was an undeniably memorable experience. To whomever ended up with that M Coupe, you've got a good car now and I hope you take care of it well!
My Parting Thoughts
After that drive, I'm completely sold on the Z4 M Coupe. Sure, rearward visibility leaves something to be desired. The handbrake is awkward to operate. It's nigh on impossible to drive smoothly without sport mode engaged. It gets worse fuel economy than my 3700-lb V8 sedan. It's even built in South Carolina by some American yokels.
But I fell in love with it.
Photo source: beauport
Cliff Notes: Test drove a Z4 M Coupe. Sounds fabulous. Goes fast. Feels great. Looks mean. Do want.
09-14-2011 at 07:13 AM - RE: Test Drive and Review of the E86 (Z4) M Coupe
Very excellent review. You have a real talent for writing...
10-16-2011 at 05:17 PM - RE: Test Drive and Review of the E86 (Z4) M Coupe
I think Jeremy Clarkson could take a few lessons from you about reviewing a car. Hes such a prick.
10-16-2011 at 05:26 PM - RE: Test Drive and Review of the E86 (Z4) M Coupe
10-16-2011 at 08:22 PM - RE: Test Drive and Review of the E86 (Z4) M Coupe
Originally posted by (10-16-2011 05:17 PM)bastardE38: I think Jeremy Clarkson could take a few lessons from you about reviewing a car. Hes such a prick.
Well that was a car I actually liked . I can be a bit more blunt in other cases, but thank you!
Originally posted by (10-16-2011 05:26 PM)m356f1:Originally posted by (10-16-2011 05:17 PM)bastardE38: I think Jeremy Clarkson could take a few lessons from you about reviewing a car. Hes such a prick.lol you really do hate him.
Thank you! I would too... working on an E36 M3 instead for now.
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