Totally redesigned but fashionably late-arriving, the 2009 BMW Z4 Roadster finally goes on sale this week, offering buyers a choice of two distinct performance levels. Opening at $46,575, the Z4 sDrive30i packs a 255-horsepower/3.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-six that can be matched with standard six-speed manual transmission or optional paddle-shiftable six-speed automatic, choices that bring up 60 mph in 5.6 and 6.0 seconds, respectively. Starting at $52,475, the uplevel Z4 sDrive35i carries a 300-horsepower/3.5-liter twin-turbo direct-injected I-6 that drops those sprint times to 5.1 ticks when paired with the basic six-speed manual or 5.0 seconds flat teamed with the available seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual. Top speed on all versions is electronically limited to 130 mph, but stepping up to the Sport Package bumps that figure by 20 mph in addition to netting Adaptive M Suspension, bespoke 18-inch or 19-inch alloy wheels with run-flat performance tires and more deeply-bolstered sport seats. BMW also revealed EPA numbers for its new sportster. The Z4 sDrive30i merits 19/28 mpg city/highway stats with a manual or 19/29 mpg with an autoshifter while those numbers dip to still-respectable 18/25 mpg and 17/24 mpg rating on the manual and autoshifted sDrive35i.
Beyond its cleaner, more elegant styling and even-better build quality, the 2009 Z4 is the first BMW ever to be fitted with a retractable power hardtop. Fully automatic, this two-piece aluminum lid raises/lowers in 20 seconds via an electrohydraulic mechanism. BMW's iDrive integrated controller also makes its debut appearance in the Z4, albeit only in consort with the optional navigation system. One thing BMW didn't change was the Z4's built-in handling brilliance. Complementing near 50/50 weight distribution, both the sDrive 30i and sDrive35i feature the latest version of BMW's Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and Driving Dynamics Control (DDC). The latter permits one-touch on-the-fly changes that yield three different response levels (Normal/Sport/Sport+) for the accelerator, engine management, power steering and DSC systems on all Z4s. DDC also interacts with the Electronic Damping Control circuitry on Z4s that have the Adaptive M Suspension and with the shift programming on an sDrive35i fitted with the dual-clutch gearbox.