If you’re of the view that nothing beats a Boxster, then BMW’s budget-priced Z4 sDrive18i might be the most attractive model in the Z4 line-up.
With a 2.0-litre turbo engine good for 156bhp, it’s quick enough and, equally importantly, cheap enough at less than £28,000 to sidestep the inevitable comparisons with you know what.
Of course, bar room wiseacres will be only too quick to let you know that a sprint to 60mph in 7.5 seconds isn’t especially fast. While it’s true that you could buy any number of sporting hatchbacks that could show this Z4 a clean pair of tailpipes for ten grand less than BMW asks for this car, this is a vehicle that is nevertheless a delight to drive. It’s rear wheel drive for a start, with impeccable chassis balance and you get a folding hard top roof so that on the rare days when our Atlantic weather systems are feeling charitable, you can drop the roof and feel agreeably epic. This model comes as standard with a firmly-weighted, six-speed manual gearbox which you’ll put to some use when you’re pressing on but there’s also an eight-speed auto available as an option.
Unlike the 3 Series Convertible, the first car BMW made with a metal folding roof, this Z4 has managed to retain the German brand’s famed 50:50 weight distribution with the roof up but ironically, it’s with the roof down and the extra weight over the rear wheels that it feels most responsive. There’s virtually no body roll and in the dry at least, you rarely run out of grip.
Most cars with metal folding roofs look a bit ungainly in their proportions, but the Z4 has a classic roadster profile with long bonnet and a pert glasshouse. The headlights now include white LED corona rings and a white ‘eyebrow’ with additional chrome detailing, while in profile the side gill features chrome detailing and LED side repeater lights.
Don’t let the relatively modest power output put you off. We’ve had some terrible underpowered BMW entry level models down the years but this is a car that really entertains, offering a brilliant chassis balance and just enough straight line speed to acquit itself against key rivals.