BMW goes performance heavy on the Z4’s “M light” treatment

By Michael Bettencourt

Even with a relatively mild winter in most parts of the country this year, February is always a tough time to launch a convertible. So when BMW Canada president Franz Jung introduced the Z4 sDrive35is Roadster at the Canadian International AutoShow, the majority of his presentation examined the firm’s environmental initiatives, which it dubs Efficient Dynamics.

BMW Z4 sDrive35is

BMW Z4 sDrive35is

What’s efficiency have to do with a more powerful two-seat folding hard top sports car? BMW says that despite the Z4 sDrive35is having 35 hp more than the top current Z4, the 300 hp but “s-less” Z4 sDrive35i, it also achieves the same official fuel economy figures than the regular Z4 sDrive35i with the automatic. Some have dubbed the Z4 is the “M light:” faster than a regular version, but still more of a comfort focus than hardcore M models.
If you’re still trying to keep up with BMW’s new digit-heavy naming system, the first “s” refers to rear wheel-drive, while it’s the last “s” that is new for this year.

The new 2011 Z4 sDrive35is offers 335 hp from an upgraded twin turbo 3.0-litre inline six, while torque is also up to 332 lb-ft, compared to 300 in the Z4 35i. There’s also an overboost function that temporarily boosts max torque output in the 35is up to 369 lb-ft, before reducing boost pressure to protect the engine components.

The Z4 is will come standard with BMW’s dual-clutch transmission (DCT), electric power steering, and will be available this spring. No Canadian prices are available yet, but figure higher than the $62,200 starting price of a 2010 Z4 sDrive35i. BMW says the new Z4 will do the 0-60 mph (96 km/h) run in 4.7 seconds, thanks in part to the launch control system that comes with the DCT.

Looks-wide, the Z4 sDrive35is will come standard with the M package, which lowers the car’s ride height by 10 mm, plus unique 18 or 19-inch wheels dress up the body. The exhaust note has been tuned specifically for this top-end Z4, says BMW.

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