We didn’t appreciate the first-generation BMW Z4 enough while we had it. The Bangle-era Z4 was the replacement for the Z3 and it had a hardtop version that brought great looks, straight-six engines, manual transmissions, two seats, and rear-wheel drive. It was a killer car in an ear when two-seat sports cars were still thriving, rather than dying like they are now. This current-gen Z4 is on its last legs and then that’s it, no more Z4s ever again. So let’s look back at the first one to remember what it was like when new.

This archive comparison test from a 2006 issue of Top Gear shows the BMW Z4 taking on the second-gen Audi TT and Nissan 350Z. At the time, each of those three cars were either brand new or fairly new and each one was special. But they all had their strengths and weakness, so which one was deemed best?

Back in 2006, the BMW Z4 was available with a few different engines but the 3.0si model in this test had a 3.0-liter inline-six (N52), which made about 265 horsepower, and it was paired with a six-speed manual transmission. It did 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds but that really doesn’t matter. What matter is that it was a long-slung, two-seat sports car with a big inline-six under its long hood and a seating position that felt as if it was on top of the rear axle. Exactly how sports cars should be.

BMW Z4 Roadster shown here

While the Audi TT was far more sensible. Its 3.2-liter V6 was paired with a six-speed dual-clutch and all-wheel drive. It made a very healthy 250 horsepower and was quick off the line but it was a bit sterile to drive and lacked character. While the Nissan 350Z might has well have been made by Americans because it was big of a cowboy compared to the other two. Its 3.5-liter V6 made 300 horsepower, making it by far the most powerful car in the test and it apparently felt it. It was brash, loud, playful, and exciting, which made it stand out in this test.

In terms of pure driving dynamics, the BMW Z4 was hands down the best car of the bunch. Its steering, chassis balance, and thrilling engine made it a joy to drive. Sure, its ride was stiff and its looks weren’t universally loved but it was a great sports car and one that we’ll miss when it’s finally gone.

[Source:Top Gear ]