2007 BMW Z4 M Coupe Preview

Recalling the good-but-not-so-old-days of the Z3 hardtop’s unexpected debut, BMW “surprised” us in New York (and Detroit and Chicago and Geneva and so on) by “unveiling” a fixed-roof version of the funky Z4 roadster.

Well…yeah. Even if BMW didn’t claim that they never planned to build it, we saw this coming months ago-and not just when hardtop Z4 “concepts” began making the show-circuit rounds in January. After all, the rigidity of a hardtop makes for a much more sporting machine-and sporting is what BMW does best.

Scratch that-Sporting is what BMW’s M division does best.

Applying the M treatment, and the hardtop, to the Z4 roadster does several good, sporting things. Firstly, it saves hundred of pounds of weight-down to 3100 lbs. Secondly, it stiffens the chassis and suspension to the point of rapturous road feel. And best of all, that ten-thousand-dollar M badge on the decklid comes with a 330-horse/269-lb.-ft. 3.2-liter inline-six straight out of the old M3, giving sub-5-second zero-to-sixty stats.

The base Z4 Coupe continues with the 255-hp 3.0-liter-itself no slouch-but misses out on the stiffer M suspenders and other goodies. That model hits 60 m.p.h. in 5.7 seconds.

BMW did actually surprise us with the visceral nature of the cockpit of the new Z4 and Z4 M Coupe, however. We were positively thrilled to see a good old six-speed manual tranny fitted to this car, and active-steering/handling gadgets were conspicuously absent. What’s more, the addition of the hardtop to the Z4 roadster’s design is also surprisingly well-executed. While the old Z3 Coupe had cult appeal, the 2007 Z4 and Z4 M Coupe are downright attractive. The sloping hatchback adds a measure of sleekness to the overall look (although trunk space is still not plentiful).

The M’ed Z4 Coupe wears unique 18-inch alloys, with 225/45 rubber up front and 255/40 meats out back. Chromed dual exhaust tips are another nice touch. Figure on this top-of-the-line two-seater running around $50 large, once production starts in June.

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