IT’S possible I have this whole post-Bangle BMW business all wrapped up ’round my mental axle, but I don’t think so.
Driving the new Z4 shortly after driving the new 7 leaves me curious as to what the gang in Munich have on their collective minds in terms of their product line and their design language. For the sake of this conversation let’s leave SUV’s aside.
As stated in a previous posting I see little brand cohesiveness in BMW’s product line.
The 1 and the new 7 both share a high beltline that make them look similar if unnecessarily heavy.
The 5 is a mess.
The 6 has supporters and detractors in about equal number.
The 3, oddly enough, is both the most beautiful (read purposeful) and the only one recognizable as being a direct descendant of previous BMW’s.
You could be forgiven for thinking the 1 and 7 came from one company. The 5 from another. The 6 from another. The 3 from another. And in the new Z4′s case, from yet another auto firm.
The primary unifying element should have been the classic kidney grilles, but no longer. On some products they look familiar while in others they have become cartoonish. The 7 and the Z4 now sport the new ungainly snout that is rapidly morphing into an old Jaguar grille – just picture a chrome strip instead of paint separating the halves and you’ll see my point.
That said, there is something tying these cars together. Regardless of engine option, given a decent set of summer tires, they are all crazy capable. I have owned a boatload of BMW’s over the years and every one was just plane fun to chuck around. The M’s a little more so, but all were just great.
So along comes the new Z4. Visually it is a giant improvement over its predecessors . Not necessarily a direct descendant, but much nicer. The power retractable hardtop is a winner. The Z4 drives like a dream. So why don’t I have any desire to own one? Even if it were to some day arrive in an M package?
Once again, BMW have given us a Boxster without a 911. If I’m going to buy a BMW roadster, I want it to be the ultimate. Where’s the ultimate in a BMW Boxster?
Now that I am out of short pants I don’t want a Miata, Boxster, 370Z, Z4 or any other sports car lite. I want the real deal; a sports car heavy!
A BMW version of the 911, Vette, Viper, Ferrari, AMG SL, Audi R8, or some other full sized thundering 8 to 12 cylinder pavement-pounder. I am not getting out of my M5 for anything less.
When I see a real sports car in my rearview, I think “let him by or step it up.” I see something like the Z4 in my rearview and I think “cute car.”
That, my friends, is some difference. The Z4 does not look ferociously purposeful in it’s size or intent. It just looks cute. And that’s perfectly fine. As an entry level sports car.
But entry level to what? Where is its big brother? And I am not talking about some retro nonsense like the unlamented Z8. Where Is BMW’s two passenger, no kidding, ultimate, go fast driving machine?