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BMW Z4 news - Hard to please - 2008

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There’s a new BMW Z4 on the way, and the big news is that
it’s gone hard-top.

Yes, the current Z4 is available in either folding soft-top
or coupe flavour, but the 2009 edition - arriving in May, just in time for a
summer of glorious sunshine - gets a two-piece folding metal roof.

It’s the most significant bit of a complete overhaul for
BMW’s Z-car, which gets a bunch of new engines and technology. First off, that
roof: bringing the Z4 straight into the firing line of the Merc SLK, it’ll
raise and lower in just 20 seconds.

Though it’s a fairly simple roof, it does - inevitably - add
a bit of weight: the new Z4 is almost 150kg heavier than its predecessor, a
fairly sizeable gain. It’s a bigger car all round, in fact: though it sits on
the same modified 3-Series platform, it’s almost 15cm longer and slightly
wider, too.

The extra weight, you’d think, should spell bad news for the
handling, but BMW reckons the new Z4 is sharper than its predecessor, thanks to
new ‘Adaptive M Suspension’, which allows you to raise or lower the ride height
- BMW says that the hardest setting, Sport+, is comparable to the outgoing Z4’s
standard ride.

Good news in the engine department, too: the Z4 will be
launched with the choice of three six-cylinder direct-injection engines, topped
by the three-litre twin-turbo from the 335i. Putting out 306bhp, it’ll fire the
Z4 to 62mph in just over five seconds - hardly slower than the current Z4M
Coupe - and return 31mpg if you opt for the DCT gearbox.

On the subject of Ms, there’s no word on a new Z4M yet - or
indeed a coupe version. Remember, though, that the hard-topped Z4 didn’t turn
up for four years after the soft-top version, so a new coupe could be a while
away… if it arrives at all.

The one thing we haven’t mentioned - can of worms and all
that - is the new looks of the Z4. Contrary types that we are, we liked the old
one - but what do you think of this new one? A handsome, evolutionary
progression, or a bit of a cop-out?   

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