2006 was the year for Z4 upgrades, with new engine offerings and the addition of the sensuous hatchback coupe. While the roadster’s styling had remained controversial, it seems that the coupe with its sloping, double-bubble roof was a runaway success.
One of the new engine offerings came securely bolted to the coupe as the 3.0si. This N52 model inline six usually powers 3 Series sedans, and it’s a jewel. Displacing 3.0 liters, BMW built it with a magnesium-and-aluminum hybrid block casting to keep the weight down. Innovating further, they added their Valvetronic variable valve system which varies lift and timing to such a degree that the engine’s breathing is actually controlled by the valves and not the throttles. This technology not only produces more power, but actually improves gas mileage. The 3.0-liter six produces 255 hp with 220 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm on the way to a melodious 7,000 rpm redline. A six-speed manual is standard with a six-speed Steptronic optional. Car and Driver saw 0-60 flash by in 5.5 seconds. The EPA rates the 3.0si at an amazing 20/30 mpg, while Car and Driver observed 21 mpg.
But sports cars exist for the twisties, and the Z4 coupe loves them. The Z4 suspension is an evolution of the M3’s underpinnings with a strut-type front suspension and a multilink setup in the rear. Car and Driver measured 0.93 g on their skidpad, remarking that this puts the Z4 “in the Crazy Blue class.” They praised the “precise steering and resolute brakes,” yet found the Sports Package option with 18-inch wheels resulted in a ride that was “downright nervous on imperfect surfaces,” calling for “constant correction and allowing little relaxation.” Most reviews concurred, saying that while the Z4 exhibited “supreme handling,” everyday driving paid a “ride penalty” on less-than-perfect roads.
Getting into the cockpit is not for awkward people, but once inside, BMW “solidity and style” surround you. The style, however, is that of a dedicated sports car, not a luxury grand tourer. The dash layout is simple, and all the controls are at your fingertips. Wood and real brushed aluminum are also there, but the focus is on the road. The 6-way manually adjustable seats are contoured for spirited driving and can be upgraded to tighter-fitting M Sports seats. Behind the seats the hatchback coupe offers 12.0 cubic feet of rear cargo space – about the same as a midsize sedan.
The Z4 earned four out of five stars in NHTSA frontal-impact crash tests. Every model is equipped with BMW’s standard array of safety features, including its full range of electronic brake system wizardry.
Reviewers picked the Z4 Coupe over its sibling roadster as their preferred “sports car” because of its solid feel that resulted in a “more performance-oriented ride.”