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BMW Z4 M40i – long-term review

Time for our Z4 to meet its cousins

Specification:
M40i
Engine:
2998cc, 6cyl turbo, RWD, 335bhp, 369lb ft
Claimed MPG:
33.2mpg, 165g/km CO2
Performance:
0-62mph in 4.5secs, 155mph
Weight:
1610kg
Price:
£49,050 OTR/£51,985 as tested/£591pcm

It’s proving difficult to talk to anyone about the Z4 without the Toyota Supra soon crowbarring its way into conversion. The debate about whether the two should share parts so flagrantly is raging, of course, not least between two of TG telly’s own. I’m with the dating show host rather than the racing driver, though. A sentence I never thought I’d type.

Sharing engines, gearboxes and electronics is far and away the easiest way to cut costs and hence enlarge profit margins. Doing so has enabled both BMW and Toyota to launch some very accomplished sports cars – with a proper six-cylinder engine at the top of their range – at a time when the market and its increasingly tight emissions regulations might suggest such things are unwise.

I suspect having the Supra to worry about as an in-house rival made the German engineers up their game, too, as I can’t remember any of the Z4’s predecessors driving this keenly. Few cars’ aggression ramps up so tangibly through their sport modes.

That parts sharing also came in very handy for my first go in the Supra, which somewhat jammily took place on the full layout of Circuit de la Sarthe. Shortly before the Le Mans 24 Hour grid rolled out for its warm up laps, mind, just to ensure there was an audience to make an utter clot of myself in front of. Eek.

Hopping in a car whose dynamics I’m familiar with by proxy was exceedingly welcome, then, and moments after prodding the starter button I was hitting an indicated 158mph down the Mulsanne Straight amidst five of the better minutes in my life.

The Supra’s not the only car to share vital organs with the BMW, though, and I’ve also tried the new Morgan Plus Six recently. A stonking 500kg lighter than the Z4 and with none of its electronic safety nets, it’s a loud, boisterous, intoxicating thing to drive.

While power and torque outputs are identical, Morgan strapped its own cackling, burbling exhaust system to the BMW 3.0-litre turbo and makes the Z4 and Supra sound meek in comparison. Indeed, anyone upset about Toyota’s use of BMW power for its sports car would do well to try one of these to see just how visceral an engine it is with the shackles loosened.

Anyone thinking Toyota went soft by borrowing a BMW engine need to try it in a British lightweight with all the nannies removed. Paddy McGuinness is right. Parts sharing really isn’t so evil.

Mileage: 7558 Our mpg: 34.4

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