Why I bought a BMW Z4 Coupe (E86)
I had been planning to sell my F56 MINI JCW for a while as it was time for a change. Having searched for months, I eventually settled on the Z4 Coupe!
If you've read any of my previous articles, you may have noted my passion for modern cars has diminished significantly in recent times. Don't get me wrong, much of it is very good at doing what it sets out to do, be a car, but few seem to deliver that driving experience I lust after. Having owned my F56 MINI JCW for 3.5 years, I knew even that was really one of the few driver focused modern cars available for less than £30k new, that you can still buy. With everything moving to turbo charging, all wheel drive and automatic transmissions, many new cars simply don't appeal to me like they once did.
I have literally spent every day of the last 4 months or so scouring the classified ads on the usual sites, looking far and wide for something that would meet my criteria, which was essentially as follows:
- More than 4 cylinders
- Rear wheel drive
- Manual gearbox
- Ultimately a driver focused vehicle
Now my criteria was by no means set in stone, but this was certainly the direction I wanted to look. At the price point I was looking at, this inevitably lead to me considering many BMW's (surprise surprise!), since they offer pretty much all of that, for not-very-much money comparatively speaking.
So then, having looked at everything from 5 cylinder Volvo's to 996 911's to E46 M3's, I stumbled by chance upon a video by JayEmm on Cars, featuring an E86 Z4 Coupe 3.0si. James gave it a good review overall and I really liked what I was hearing. It was at that point I started to delve deep down this route, and having done some research, everything stacked up perfectly on paper. 2 weeks later, I made the 600 mile round trip to pick up my "perfect spec" 2008 E86 3.0si.
So, some specs then for those who are interested:
3.0L naturally aspirated straight six (N52B30)
6spd Manual, RWD
If you're on a similar wavelength to me, those stats right there will hopefully grab your attention. But it's not just about the figures, I mean just look at the thing.
We all know looks are subjective, but let's be honest, the E86 Coupe is without doubt, a stunning looking car. If I had to be totally honest, I feel it may be one of the best looking BMW's there has been, yet it seems to almost be one of the forgotten BMW's. As a huge enthusiast of said Bavarian manufacturer, I couldn't believe I had overlooked this thing, having excluded it with my "pre-2005" filter. The design is minimalistic yet intricate - With not a fake vent in sight and above all else, normal sized grilles, it really is the summation of what I wish BMW still was today. The engine is a masterpiece of engineering, the chassis is phenomenal and it is a true occasion to step into, each and every time. It is a car that requires a good driver to obtain the most from it, which means it is incredibly rewarding as I grow and gradually become one with the car. The fluidity with which your feet, hands and the car interact is absolutely what driving should be about. It can therefore be deduced that I have bought the car I've been looking for, even if I didn't quite know what that was!
The N52B30 - Double VANOS and Valvetronic means this unit produces peak torque at just 2,750rpm, amazing for N/A.
Of course I'm not going to go in-depth on the driving just yet, for a full review will be coming in the next month or so where we will explore this car in full detail - stay tuned!
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You can watch the video version of this article here: