Although I tend to favor the design of outgoing BMWs, the new Z4 is hands down a more handsome car. The bodylines have been redrawn to "point" to an imaginary spot up the road. Though there is still a bit of former BMW designer Chris Bangle, the edges have been softened and every bit of sheet metal is new. The car now looks properly muscled, ripped even.

BMW repeatedly stated that the new Z4 was bigger than its predecessors. Apparently someone felt the Z4 was too tight for some drivers. At six feet tall, I never had a problem fitting into our Z4 nor did I feel cramped. The only special concern would be the trunk as the retractable top lives there. Top down, there's enough room for a full-size golf bag or a medium-size suitcase.

The Z4 will come to North America in two flavors. The base model will include the normally aspirated 3.0-liter engine while the premium version will have the 3.0 twin turbo. As of May 9, all Z4s will include a retractable hardtop, so say goodbye to the proper coupes (for now anyway). I have mixed feelings as the previous Z4 coupe was a great chassis. Losing its roof would certainly compromise integrity. Or maybe not. As we drove the new Z4 over a curb the opposing wheels were dangling midair. The doors opened and shut without issue and the top functioned perfectly. According to BMW chassis engineers, this type of rigidity is mandatory, a German law even. The retractable top plays little if any part in overall rigidity. In any case, the top will raise or lower itself in 20 seconds and do so at speeds up to 30 mph. Good to know if there's a sudden squall.

The Z4 sports BMW's latest version of dynamic stability control featuring normal, sport and sport+ settings. DSC now adjusts additional parameters including throttle sensitivity, steering and transmission shift points. And cars equipped with the optional Adaptive M Suspension will find modified maps for the electronically regulated dampers.

Scrolling through the three settings yields instantaneous results. One moment the Z4 feels like Luke Skywalker's land speeder, the next a track-ready pod racer.

Most likely the Z4 will be on sale just as this magazine hits the stands. Prices for the Z4 30i will start at $46,575 while the turbo 35i starts at $52,475.

The Z4's genesis from simple roadster to elegant sports car is complete. And as much as I may whine for "the good old days", the new roadster obliterates any desire to go back there. Right now is better than ever.

2010 BMW Z4 35i
* Layout
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive

* Engine
3.0-liter I6, dohc, 24-valve, turbocharged and intercooled

* Transmission
Seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual (optional)

* Suspension
Double-joint tiebar front axle, anti-roll bars, centrally guided rear axle,anti-dive and anti-squat

* Brakes
Four-piston aluminum calipers, 348mm ventilated rotors (f)Two-piston aluminum calipers, 324mm ventilated rotors (r)

* Wheels and Tires
Forged aluminum alloy, 8x18 (f), 8.5x18 (r)
HP Runflat tires, 225/40 (f), 255/35 (r)

* Dimensions
Length/Width/Height (in.): 166.9/70.5/50.8
Wheelbase: 98.3 in.
Curb Weight: 3,494 lb

* Performance
Peak Power*: 300 hp @ 5800 rpm
Peak Torque: 300 lb-ft @ 1400 rpm
0-60 mph: 5.0 sec.
Top Speed: 150 mph (limited)*Mfr data

Price Tag

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