Auto Bavaria Sungai Besi recently held an Innovation Day which allowed participants to sample selected BMW vehicles. Among the vehicle available was the all-new BMW Z4 sDrive35is M Sport. Yes it has the special ‘s’ alphabet and the term M Sport in it’s designation which means it has a few extras over the Z4 sDrive35i. The add-ons are made up by aesthetics as well as mechanical upgrades.

Before we go straight to the review, lets take a quick look at the major differences. The highlight is the bump in power. The Z4 sDrive35is M Sport is motivated by the same N54B30 engine featuring a twin-turbo force induction system found in the Z4 sDrive35i. Compared to 306hp and 400Nm of torque offered by the latter, the power house in the Z4 sDrive35is gives you 340hp and 450Nm of torque. Now that translates to a bump of 34hp and 50Nm of torque. Not only that, the BMW 507-inspired car gives you additional 50Nm of torque in “is” trim which is available as an overboost. The overall increase in power is mostly thanks to an improved air intake with higher boost pressure on the turbos.

Continue reading to check out the rest of the report and to salivate over an image gallery.

The engine is still paired with the snappy 7-speed dual clutch transmission (with Launch Control). On paper the Z4 sDrive35is hits the century mark in 4.7 seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h. Compared to the Z4 sDrive35i, it’s sprint time is 0.4 seconds quicker while top speed is similar. Its M Sport goodies are made up by an M aerodynamics pack as well as an M adaptive suspension with a 10mm lower ride height and different operating modes, apart from other aesthetic features which remind you that this is an M Sport model.

Since we only had a few moments with the Z4 sDrive35is, we will provide a full test review later on. Apart from it’s good looking exterior, the Z4 sDrive35is has a pretty handsome cabin, as with other models in the E89 Z4 range. The cabin also feels like how a BMW should. A good combination of class and sporty-ness. The seats offer excellent support, good for hard cornering since they support the sides of your body well. Getting in and out isn’t really a huge problem.

It has a low roof so it would take a little bit more effort but then again you don’t need to crawl into or out from it. Sitting on the driver’s seat alone reminds you that you are in an “is” model. Apart from the relevant M insignias, there is also an “sDrive35is” logo printed on the grey rev counter. The same can be found on the floor mats. As with other M models, the steering wheel is nice and thick, reminding you that you are in a speed demon.

I then cranked up the engine via the ‘start’ button, revved it up and noticed a slight difference in the exhaust note. It is slightly deeper but you would have to listen to it a few times to notice the difference. I decided to put the roof down to soak up some sunlight and started the drive. I had a quick encounter with the Z4 sDrive35i before this and I must say that I really felt the difference in power, especially when I stepped on the gas.

It was pretty easy to get the traction control indicator to blink on the instrument panel and the torque really pushes you into your seat, more than the Z4 sDrive35i can. The retuned engine gives out a nice audible response and gear shifts via the 7-speed dual clutch gearbox are quick and sharp. The ‘pop’ sound during upshifts found in the cars like the Golf GTI Mk6 or the Scirocco was also evident in Z4 sDrive35is.

Through some brief corners in the vicinity of Putrajaya I can conclude that this powerful Z4 handles really well. Sharp curves and medium speed turns can be taken without a hitch. In normal mode the car was a little floaty but sports mode took that away and it gave me a more precise driving experience with little free play. It turns in and out of corners well with very minimal body roll and the steering offered very good feedback despite featuring an electric mechanism. I expected the M Sport suspension to give the Z4 a bumpier ride quality but in reality it was quite negligible in the Z4 sDrive35is. Perhaps it was because the car was so fast that everything else went unnoticed.

Talking about driving fast, I took the roadster to the Maju Expressway which to me, is the closest thing we Malaysians have to the Autobahn. With the top back up I hit 200km/h rather quickly and effortlessly and most importantly I did not even notice I was traveling at those speeds! The car still felt very composed and it took long sweeping bends very nicely.

The car did not twitch whatsoever and it felt quite planted. Since the car felt at home at those speeds, I kicked it up a notch and brought it up to 240km/h, just 10km/h shy from the vehicle’s governed top speed (and yes my heart was beating 500 beats per minute, as much as the total torque!). However, at speeds between 220 and 240km/h, the car didn’t feel as planted even while driving with the sports mode turned on.

The front end felt a little too light at times, I felt as though the tires weren’t resting on the tarmac for a couple of milliseconds, occasionally. It could well be due to the condition of the road surface. At these speeds even the smallest of bumps, which you won’t notice at 110km/h become more apparent. I wouldn’t take even high speed corners at those speeds. I gently released the accelerator pedal and squeezed the brake paddle ever so slightly to bring the car down to a more civilized speed. While braking I noticed that if I braked too hard and too quickly I could lose the rear end.

After the quick high speed drive, I drove a more relaxed affair at speeds of between 140 and 160km/h. The car felt very calm and it was a smooth ride, giving me, the driver a rather relaxed feeling. As soon as I hit the city, I was looking to see at how it would perform in such conditions and it passed with flying colours. The transmission worked smoothly and jerks, if there were, went unnoticed. Overall the BMW Z4 sDrive35is is a powerful car that adapts well to different situations including city or slow driving, performance driving and it does well during laid back cruising too. It doesn’t work well for more practical usage thanks to it’s lack of ‘extra’ space but hey its a high-performance roadster which is being titled as the current generation’s Z4 M so its fine, I have no qualms about it.

If I were to compare the Z4 sDrive35is with another competitor I would confidently take it up against Porsche’s entry-level high-performance roadster which is the Boxster S, although some would beg to differ. The Boxster S is priced at RM598,000 while the Z4 sDrive35is carries an RM598,800 price tag, just an RM800 difference making it a perfect competitor. The Boxster S has a fabric roof while the Z4 has a hard top convertible configuration. The former has 310hp and while the latter has 340hp. So the Z4 sDrive35is is more powerful and furthermore, it has a better looking interior, and its more premium too.

Porsches may handle better but the Boxster’s lack of a hard roof should make it a little more flexible. The Cayman S, a coupe verson is nippier around corners than the Boxster S and the Z4 sDrive35is but I would still go for the Z4 unless I am taking up a slalom or an autokhana contest. Don’t get me wrong, the Boxster S is good car but for the same price tag, you get more bang for your buck with the BMW. It would be a different case altogether if the Boxster S carried a lower price tag. In this case the Z4 sDrive35is would be my pick. It makes more power, its more comfortable and overall, it makes more sense unless if you want a Porsche badge on your hood.

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