BMW Z4 Launch: Behind the scenes

BMW Z4 | March 22nd, 2009 by 2
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This past week, BMW hosted the International Press Launch of the new 2009 BMW Z4. The event took place in the beautiful Alicante region, Spain. …

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This past week, BMW hosted the International Press Launch of the new 2009 BMW Z4. The event took place in the beautiful Alicante region, Spain. With great surroundings and the Mediteranian Sea at its “feet”, Alicante was the perfect place to launch the new BMW Z4, the reinvented roadster that wants to connect again, the driver with the car.

Since we didn’t make it there that does not mean we won’t cover the event. Yes, we do care about you, our loyal readers, and therefore, with the help of a great auto journalist, Richard Aucock, we have some exclusive photos and impressions from the event. Richard has just launched a new blog, which I strongly encourage you to visit, there are and will be some great car reviews, test drives and other auto news.

At the 2009 BMW Z4 launch, BMW AG brought their aces, starting with Adrian Von Hooydonk, Head of Design, continuing with the mastermind behind the new Z4, Anders Warming and last, but not least, the beautiful, talented Juliana Blasi, the one that brought the new Z4 into the spotlight again.

Now, I would like to let Richard takes us on this journey and tell us all about the event, and what’s a better way to do it other than using photos. Remember that saying? “A Picture is worth a thousand words”.

Continued after the jump with many more photos

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No bouncy bus to shuttle us from airport to test car handout centre. No, this is BMW. So you lay on a fleet of German-registered X5 xDrive30ds. Natrulich.


Attention to detail again. BMW Magazine in back of airport shuttle Attention to detail oversight: it was in German.


My first sight of the new BMW Z4. All the same colour. Champagne. Mmm. Not keen.


Zs through the ages. One snapper’s passing comment on the Z3? ‘It is VERY gay, isn’t it…’


Old vs new. Comments, please!


These are the most popular guys on the launch. In exchange for seeing your driving licence, they give you a key. The screen at the back indicates which journos are assigned to which car.


The route – drop me a line if you’re ever in Alicante and want to replicate it. Seriously, it’s WELL worth it.


Zs through the ages. All from BMW’s Heritage collection. Tast-ee.


Chassis hero Heinz Krusche, watching the roof do its work. Yes, he’s pumped. Woe betide said roof if it had’ve played up. Oh, and Krusche ‘usually’ switches ESP off when he’s on track, but keeps it on for the highway. Just fyi…


Here’s what the roof does if it’s down, and you want to get into the boot. It takes around 10secs to lift up to this stage, and is a dreadful faff. I got it here, then couldn’t get it back down again. A bit of learning is required. A regrettable inevitability of having the rear deck so low, it seems. Trick? Roof down, travel light. At least there’s laptop bag-space behind the front seats.


Roof out of the way, you eventually can get into the boot. Make sure that panel is in place, though, or it won’t budge. That’s how much the roof swallows. With it out the way, there’s 310 litres in there. Blimey, that’s more than a Ford Fiesta!


The dialogue menu which pops up in the instrument panel when adjusting Adaptive M Suspension. Complete with tiny Z4 graphic… neat!


Electric parking brake switch. Fitting this means BMW can have an asymmetric centre console layout – driver-focused, of course. Chris Bangle would be proud…


iDrive comes to Z4. It’s BMW’s new system. Ignore all those who say iDrive doesn’t work – this journo rates the new setup much better than Audi’s MMI.


Classic dials. Thought them a bit dull at first, but they grew on me. Very clear, if not quite as vivid as, say, an E36. Still can’t quite put my finger on why this is so.


Sensitive ears, you see. Hence, window up. Wind bluster roof down is not an issue, so long as you pay £150 for that rear deflector. It’s not quiet, of course, but bearable, even at 140 clicks. Means you can hear the wicked noise from the exhausts, too. Seriously, with DCT, the crack-rasp on gearchanges is to die for.


The inspiration for the BMW Z4’s centre console switches. Z8 is so wantable, it’s untrue. And what’s underneath? Only a V8 M5. Bloody hell…


See – Z8 influences! Check out the craftsmanship, too. Tight tolerances and they feel great to touch.


The daddy of all switches. MPV’s the Z4, from saloon cruiser into, well, original Z4.


Just after we stopped off, at this somewhat inconvenient point, a car came up, waiting to get past. Yes, of course, it was the Police. They were fine, luckily. Just slightly baffled as to what we were doing. Good job they didn’t come 2mins later. They’d have spotted a colleague shooting past, ‘rather rapidly’.




Seats set so far back, nearly on the rear axle, was a design prerequisite from the arty types as well as the engineers. It’s fundamental to the whole Z4 experience. And what sets it apart from the ‘2+2’ Audi TT. Not to mention the Porsche Boxster. Which, of course, has an engine in the way.


Well, Phil, you are right. It is awfully 6 Series… the designer later told us those LED rear lights are BMW’s most hi-tech currently in production. They use light bar technology, so you get red ‘strakes’ instead of ugly plasti-scattered light patterns. Ace.


sDrive35i means twin circular exhausts, left and right of the reg plate. They’re bespoke to this engine, and are how you’ll spot it from afar. Roof down, they sound ace – especially around 2500rpm, where the resonant burble they make is teriffic. Also, they rumble menacingly at tickover, too, which is kinda cool.


We will stop here and continue with another article on the BMW Press Conference and of course, more details on the new Z4, photos included.

For more photos, visit Richard’s Flickr page

Update: 2009 BMW Z4 Launch Part 2 is up