BMW’s Z8 was first noticed by the world in the Bond film, “The World Is Not Enough”. While this isn’t the most popular of Bond films, nor was Pierce Brosnan the most popular of Bonds, the BMW Z8 made its mark on cinema. It was beautiful and exciting, right up until it got sawed in half. Shame, really. But the problem with the Z8 is that it never drove or handled up to the very high expectations that being in a Bond film gave it.
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When the BMW Z8 launched, its price, mighty engine and silver-screen pedigree gave it a sort of supercar reputation. I remember articles of magazine comparing it with Ferraris in head-to-head tests. In comparison to mid-engine supercars like that, the BMW Z8 stood about as much of a chance as I do in a ring with Mike Tyson. It was never going to win. And after being subjected to numerous supercar comparisons, the BMW Z8 was deemed a dud. A beautiful dud, but a dud nevertheless.
This isn’t exactly fair, though, because the BMW Z8 was never a supercar, regardless of what anyone may say. It has none of the hallmarks of a supercar, not one. It’s not exotic, it’s not mid-engined and it’s not lightweight. In fact, it’s heavier than it looks, it has its engine in the front and it’s a soft top convertible. It’s a grand touring roadster and it was never meant to be anything else.
There was a Top Gear episode many moons ago, where Jeremy Clarkson flogged the Z8 around a track and criticized it for its sloppy handling. But it was never meant to be a sharply-focused track monster. It’s meant to lazily take corners, roll a bit and then use its mighty V8 to send you hurtling toward the horizon. It’s a comfortable, yet powerful, cruiser. It’s not the sort of car you want on a race track but it is the exact car you want crossing continents with. Hearing that glorious V8, swapping cogs with your right hand and looking at the beautiful interior while cruising down scenic roads. That’s what the Z8 is all about.
When looked at in that light, the BMW Z8 really shines. It’s the lens in which it was meant to be viewed and I think time will show that. When it debuted, it was looked at as a sort of supercar, but that’s the last thing it was meant to be. Now that we can look back on it, we can see it for the incredible grand tourer that it was, maybe even the best one BMW ever made.