Spacious, practical and comfortable, we decided to road trip to the mouth of the Breede River with BMW’s new Z4…
When BMW introduced its new Z4 Roadster to our local market in March 2019 we made sure we were there to meet it in the metal and our first impressions praised its hot new looks, performance-enhanced driving dynamics and most of all its comfortable and practical cabin (despite it being a compact sport car). In fact, we decided that the Z4’s cabin was enjoyable enough for us to road trip with it up to the mouth of the Breede River – 280km away from Cape Town…
“When Caira said we’d be using the new Z4 to drive up to Breede, I have to say I was a bit hesitant,” says road trip companion Carmen Clegg. “The idea of a girl’s road trip in a convertible sounds fun and all, but being stuck in a two-seater compact sports car for 280 km sounded like a one-way-ticket to ruining a good friendship. But everything about the Z4 surprised me. Boot space is generous and accommodated both our suitcases and various beach items (think flamboyant Out of Africa hats), as well as groceries. Seated in the cabin I felt like I was in my regular daily driver – with more than enough leg and headroom to stretch out and get a good view of the beautiful scenery.”
In terms of looks the third-generation Z4 is undeniably striking and didn’t fail to turn heads whether we were on the national road or driving around the small town of Witsand – it sure caused quite a stir and generated a fair amount of excitement for the locals, especially with the soft top down. The convertible roof opens and closes in just 10 seconds at speeds of up to 50 km an hour. Our Frozen Grey Metallic colour on our test unit adds to the M40i derivative’s batmobile-like character and we love how it brings out the striking blue brake callipers.
Inside we’ve spoken about the Z4’s level of comfort, but in terms of looks there’s still everything you’d expect from new BMWs models. While it is of course a bit tighter, it was launched alongside the new 8 Series and aspires to resemble much of its intention to focus on the driver. It also features BMW’s all-new infotainment system that houses some innovative and super useful technology to keep you connected on the road. I also love a wireless charging pad – if I can be free of wires and clutter, I’m happy – and there was never a reason for my phone to be low on battery when we were in the Z4.
Everyone wanted to know what it was like to experience driving the Z4 to the Breede River. It’s a driving route that involves a few twisty mountain passes and some beautiful open roads that require a bit of performance in order to combat slow-moving trucks. Although we were in the fastest Z4 BMW has ever made, we were quite happy to take the road trip at a safe and leisurely pace – we were in no rush, and the Z4 really is comfortable enough to not need to get to our destination in a hurry. But then of course there are always those ‘heroes’ on the road who upon seeing two girls in a Z4 M40i, find it amusing to come speeding up behind us and tail us for as long as possible, with short bursts of performance, despite us politely moving over – hoping they would pass. Alas they proceeded to persist, trying to wind us up enough to give in, switch to Sports+ Mode and leave them for dust. This is perhaps what I love most about the Z4: in a matter of 4.5 seconds it can go from a relaxing daily driver to a monstrous hooligan – if you need it to. Bye bye, hero. Pops and bangs are so satisfying when there’s no one else behind you to disrupt the sound waves.
Back in Comfort Mode we could enjoy keeping our smooth ride’s fuel consumption at a low 9.8-litres/100km while the ride felt soft and relaxing enough to recover from the antagonising trolls we’d left some 20 km’s or so behind. Around town I loved that even on fairly uneven and bumpy roads the Z4 didn’t feel hard or like I had to drive at 1km/hour for fear of it breaking – unlike some other sports cars.
Super Speedy Open/Close Roof Time (10 seconds)
Confidence-Inspiring: minimal planning when overtaking or dealing with twisty mountain passes
Sports car comfort: doesn’t compromise on space and comfort
Adaptable Driving: can go from relaxing coastal cruiser to beastly brute in 4.5 seconds
Pricing for the new BMW Z4 starts at R755, 900 for the sDrive20i and R1, 030, 500 for the M40i.