Car Review: New BMW 8 Series and BMW Z4

We drive X2 of BMW’s most exciting newest models – the new 8 Series Coupe and the new Z4 Roadster…

‘Twas a rather fast-paced two days for those of us who joined BMW South Africa in Cape Town for the very exciting launch of the new BMW 8 Series and Z4! We were very lucky to sample both new models on some incredibly exciting roads around the Cape, and while there’s A LOT to take in as far as what’s new, here is just some of what  you need to know about the new BMW 8 Series and new Z4 Roadster…

The New 8 In SA – from race track to road

The new BMW 8 Series Coupe is here to continue its extraordinary story of the previous 8 coupe, but this time new equipment, luxury styling and interior comforts, as well as track-inspired driving performance with a good balance of every day handling, have brought the 8 Series to a whole new level.

On the outside there is nothing understated about this sporty coupe with exterior styling that catches the eye and brings a smile to plenty of other drivers and pedestrians. Look at it from the side and its sleek and long body shape give it a great sense of sensuality and elegance while from the back you’re instantly reminded of its sporty intentions from its rear spoiler and LED taillights that extend far around the sides of the car to emphasize the car’s low centre of gravity.

The optional Metallic Sunset Orange colour on the 8 Series Coupe is my personal favourite, while the Barcelona Blue option is exclusive to the M Sport package – there are loads more to choose from if you click here.

Our test unit was the adrenaline inducing M850i xDrive model that offers increased power outages of 390 kW and torque of a whopping 750 Nm from its beastly V8 engine. To say that it is quick – VERY quick, is an understatement because it shoots from 0 – 100 km/hour in just 3.7 seconds. So, as you can imagine we made sure we had ALL of the (safe) fun and none of the boring stuff during our test drive. Having said that, once we’d finished our joy ride over various mountain passes and were back in the city (where we joined the Ed Sheeran traffic congestion), the new 8 did a decent job at keeping us relaxed in Comfort Mode, despite the stop/start traffic, thanks to its luxurious cabin with plush materials and super comfy seats.

Pricing for the new BMW 8 Series Coupe xDrive starts at R1, 872, 900.

The new BMW Z4 Roadster

I have to be honest, although the new 8 was next-level-exciting, I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of the new Z4 Roadster. I’m a huge fan of the Z3 and couldn’t wait to see what the more matured Z4 version has to offer.

From the outside the new Z4 is striking, but even more so with the roof and windows down. I love that boot space isn’t compromised when the roof is folded down, because it’s stored more to the centre of the car to keep its 281-litres of storage space – that’s impressive for a small sports car! The convertible roof and opens and closes in just 10 seconds at speeds of up to 50 km an hour. Inside, there’s quite a bit more space than the previous Z4 and it quite comfortably accommodated myself and a ridiculously tall man who spends a fair amount of time in the iron jungle! That being said, it is a compact sports car so if you’re not used to these sorts of cabins you’ll notice the tighter dimensions in some places.

On the road the Z4 begs you to play and while it offers loads of punch and thrill, I felt a lot more confident than I thought I would over the twists and turns on various mountain passes. The Z4 keeps everything in control and inspires a kind of confidence that makes adventurous driving and handling a breeze (not just with the top down). With the engine up front, power is sent to the rear wheels and together with high performance tyres you get sporty handling ability whenever you need it. The M40i gets 19-inch light alloy wheels as standard, while the tamer sDrive20i model gets 18-inch standard wheels.

The Z4 also comes with most of the driver assistance function we see in other new models, from Collision Warning, Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function and Lane Departure Warning system all come as standard. The list of options includes Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function, distance information, the Lane Change Warning System, Rear Collision Prevention and the Speed Limit Info system with No Passing Info display and – for the first time in a roadster – the BMW Head-Up Display.

Our M40i test model is powered by a 3.0-litre straight-six engine unit featuring M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology that offers 250 kW of power and 500 Nm of torque and sprints from 0 – 100 km/hour in 4.6 seconds. It is MORE than enough performance for those looking for a sporty compact car and while it certainly shows off on the road if you want it to, it isn’t too hot to handle in the city or around the quieter suburbs once you flip to COMFORT Mode.

My time with the Z4 has been unforgettable to say the least and if you’re like me and struggle to get comfy (or confident) in compact sports cars, you need to get yourself into a Z4 and try it out. It’s a great option for those looking for something zooty, fun, good-looking and easily manageable in everyday driving environments.

Pricing for the new BMW Z4 starts at R755, 900 for the sDrive20i and R1, 030, 500 for the M40i.