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Best of both worlds

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The BMW Z4 35i-S is a very capable car that can swap between an open-top sportster and a snug coup. Ouseph Chacko reports

You sit in your new BMW Z4, roof down, sun shining and a winding road ahead — there are few better times to enjoy a car such as this. You put your foot down on the straight bits, feel the 302 horses under the bonnet get you up to speed indecently fast and revel in the sporty exhaust note bouncing off the mountain walls.

There may not be many cars in India where you can live out such fantasies, but now that the Z4 is here, at least your options have opened up, provided you have the Rs. 61.98 lakh it takes to get one. And, any worries about the practicality of owning a convertible in India can be laid to rest — it's got an electrically-operated metal roof that folds away into the boot at the touch of a button.

Space and driving position

Given its compact size, the Z4 is a lot more comfortable than it looks. Even with the roof up, there's good space (legroom, headroom, shoulder) and with the electric seat adjust, it's easy to get comfortable behind the wheel.

There's a great low-slung driving position, there's that lovely, thick-rimmed steering wheel in front of you, the classic long bonnet ahead of you, and a short, stubby boot behind you. With the roof up, there's a decent 310 litres of space, but fold the roof into the boot and there's just an A-star-rivaling 180 litres.

With its twin-turbo straight-six engine, rear-wheel-drive platform and two seats, the Z4 35i is anything but ordinary.

The 3.0-litre engine has a wide torque band, so pulls strong and clean right from 1300rpm. It loves to rev and because power delivery is so linear, it sometimes hides the fact that the car is seriously quick.

Mind you, there's enough shove to get to 100kph in 6.2sec and on to 200kph in 23sec before the speed limiter cuts in at 250kph.

Our car had the adaptive suspension, and even in the ‘Normal' setting, there's loads of grip, little body lean and, the steering is sharp, if a bit short of feel. The ride is stiff at low speeds, and sharp bumps sound painful. It hates any form of broken tarmac, but still, for the handling on offer, it's not all that bad. It even surprised us by clearing some really big speedbreakers without grounding out.

In the end, it is a very capable car. To our eyes it looks a million bucks, and its ability to swap between open-top sportster and snug coupé is brilliant.

Performance is strong, and the handling is very convincing. As an all-round enthusiast's car, there's little to challenge it, and there lies the Z4's brilliance.

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