In the 40-plus years I've earned a so-called legitimate living from the auto industry, I have seen many examples of performance vehicles coming from every manufacturer. Some did it well and others didn't even come close.
Sure, there have been special projects and of course a mixture of good and not-so-good aftermarket shops that would modify an existing sports car, making it into a pure performer. At least, for as long as it held together.
The BMW group has a high-performance group producing some exciting vehicles. Each vehicle may resemble a "normal" production version, but you would be careful to not judge too quickly. The "M" badge on these cars signifies a great deal more than an appearance package and a new emblem.
Take the Z4 M Coupe I drove recently. Here is a two-door hard top that handles like a slot car, moves like a stripped cat and doesn't draw too much attention from folks in those black-and-white cars.
The sleek body is more a fastback style than the traditional coupe design. The M Coupe sits low to the road, helping to increase that excellent handling. It holds a wide stance, giving it a firm foot. And though it strikes a smallish profile, it is surprisingly roomy. This is helped by the cool bubbles in the roof, reminiscent of historic racing cars.
Take note: This is a two-door, two-seat sports car, so don't think for a moment you can get your entire living room inside. Compact is more the idea from the passenger compartment. You and a friend with small suitcases will do quite well but the same can't be said for the family dog.
The cozy feel is enhanced by the snug-fitting, sport-bucket seats. The thick steering wheel feels quite substantial in your hands. It feels so good you want to keep both hands on the rim for the control you enjoy. All gauges and controls are in their appropriate places. After all, this is a driver's car.
Power comes from the modified and reworked engine that is smooth and potent. It doesn't take a lot of coaxing to get this six cylinder revved up and off in a rapid sequence of up-shifts.
The 6-speed manual transmission is a little notchy and needs some effort to slide through the gears. This is good because it translates into a firm feel expected from a high-performance automobile.
The 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine is the same engine used in other M series cars and produces an admirable 330 horsepower. In the lighter Z4 Coupe, the acceleration is even more exhilarating.
The sport suspension system includes firmer springs and shocks that are engineered to offer some of the best handling found on a street car.
Yet, even with the firmness of this suspension, the car will not beat you apart like some other exotica I have driven in the past. Getting the right combination of ride comfort and handling is a quest many engineers never seem to complete. BMW gets it and does it.
The BMW Z4 M Coupe isn't an automobile for everyone. For one reason, it is available in a limited-production run, so not everyone who wants one will get one.
That isn't to say if you had your heart set on this coupe, you couldn't find a car to fulfill your desires. I am sure your local dealer would be happy to find you a car.
The Z4 M Coupe is a fun vehicle that quenches many thirsts.