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A Bodybuilder in a Tuxedo

Drivers looking for a truly special experience in a unique and exclusive European roadster should give attention to the BMW Z4 M. This rare vehicle is seldom seen on the streets, since it's only available through special dealer order—which is a shame, because the difference between this car and the standard Z4 it resembles is one of night and day.

Under the striking "flame surfaces" of the Z4 convertible resides not the original car's fairly ordinary engine, but the fabled, high-revving inline-6 that powered the Euro-only BMW M3 CSL in 2003. This 343-hp powerplant kicks the Z4 M into a completely new stratum of performance; and in keeping with the inspiration that made the M3 CSL such a lean and mean machine, BMW's M dvision stripped out the heavy electronics and driver aids that dulled the standard Z4's dynamics, leaving behind a stiffened engine bay, a sharper suspension, the exclusive variable M differential lock, and a notchy manual shifter with a punishingly direct clutch. The result is a car whose Spartan yet refined and comfortable interior lets you focus on the task at hand—taming a wild beast of a car whose extraordinary dynamic limits demand a firm grip and a set of steel nerves.

The Z4 M's engine in stock form sounds mesmerizing pulling to 8,000 rpm—but it's just a little subdued for our tastes. We at PRI have taken it further with exhaust and induction tweaks bringing the output to a dyno-tested 360 hp, and the note at full song to a banshee wail. This is a car that invites comparison to its stablemate, our Cayman S, which offers a much different driving character with misleadingly similar performance stats. The Z4 M is more feisty, more edgy, and more unforgiving—but given a firm hand (and right foot), it's amply rewarding to the discerning enthusiast who wants not only an unforgettable ride, but one that only a few other drivers of demanding and precise taste will have shared.

Enjoy this blue-blooded European muscle car with a carefully chosen list of options:

  • Custom free-flow exhaust
  • All-electric convertible top
  • Full JL Audio entertainment system w/ iPod support
  • Integrated GPS navigation
  • DSC stability control
  • Incline-hold feature

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Z4M sings at 8,000 rpm
Run time: 00:17

Top Gear's Richard Hammond drives the Z4M.
Run time: 08:24
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