- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

Stronger, longer and, yes, even sexier than the Z3 it replaces, the 2003 BMW Z4 sits in a sports car category between the Chevrolet Corvette and the Dodge Viper.
It has more cachet than the venerable 'Vette and less power than the Viper, something that can be said of most anything on the road today.
As the alphanumerics indicate, the Z4 is a step closer to the far more expensive, far more powerful Z8.
It was inevitable that BMW kick up the potency of the Z3, which was not a bad car. But the Z4, as the tester proved, is not just a slight step ahead; it's a jump.
The Z4 can be had with a 2.5-liter six that puts out a respectable 184 horsepower with 175 foot-pounds of torque. Arming it with the 3.0 six, however, turns what is a tap on the shoulder into a kick when the throttle is mashed. Cram 225 horsepower and 214 foot-pounds of torque into a car weighing about 3,000 pounds, and you're talking pure grunt, although the guttural exhaust note is more of a song.
The test Z4, which totaled $44,820, had the six-speed transmission (a five-speed manual and five-speed automatic are other options, depending on engine choice), which is intuitive with a very short throw. It made it easy to believe BMW's boast of zero-to-60 mph times under six seconds.
That's quick enough or should be for most folks, and the truth is that the Z4 encourages styling out as much as it does hunting for twisty two-lanes.
The top's a snap to raise or lower with the push of one button, operating it in about five seconds. It tucks away nicely, exposing the flat-top roll bars that contribute to its good looks.
The sheet metal itself has an edgy, ready-to-spring look with distinct lines that flow and merge from front to rear, a distance of 161.1 inches. Width is 70.1 inches and height is 50.1 inches, so it can get a little hairy wheeling the Z4 around big trucks and drivers of larger cars that aren't paying attention. Obviously, it's easy to get away from them.
The ride is firm, thanks to a sport mode for its driver-selectable suspension. Neither the normal nor sport mode makes a great fuss about road conditions, but both will keep the Z4's driver informed. Ditto for the steering, which is electric rather than hydraulic and backs off as speed increases, meaning it's easily parked but not numb at speed.
The interior, which is workmanlike without surrendering the luxury touches expected of a BMW, is spacious, really, for two. But there's not much room for anything else in the cabin proper, although there's reasonable trunk space for a car of this size, and the self-storing top doesn't take all that much room.

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