2019 BMW Z4 M40i First Drive: No More Zzzzzs

No matter how intently you’re spanking an autocross course or chasing superbikes through canyons, rocking a Porsche Boxster, Audi TT, BMW Z4, or the like is usually a recipe for instant judgment. Critics invariably pipe up when it comes to these diminutive roadsters. While BMW’s sub-scale Z cars earned a rep for driver-focused demeanors (think Z1, Z3, Z8), the last-gen Z4 softened up with comfy damping and a folding hardtop, a particularly telling piece of hardware that raised the center of gravity and hindered the performance of the pint-sized platform.

Enter 2018 and BMW’s efforts have shifted to a longer, wider, and meaner Z4 that’s been reworked from scratch to satisfy a particular demographic: the person behind the wheel. Remember the “Ultimate Driving Machine?” Yep, Bayerische Motoren Werke is back on that mission again – though the Z4 only comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and no manual gearbox option. Chew on that.

The new Z4 is buzz-worthy for its parallel development with the upcoming Toyota Supra, and the Germans have been milking its release for some time now – my first drive came earlier this year in a camouflaged prototype at BMW’s private proving grounds in Miramas, France. With this iteration, the Z4’s fundamentals have been bolstered with perfect fifty-fifty weight distribution, a wheelbase that’s been tri...