Caught in the classifieds: 2007 BMW Z4M
Last weekís ďCaught in the ClassifiedsĒ highlight was a spectacular E46 M3 I found on our site listed for just under £17k. This week, Iím highlighting something similar on paper, but completely different in the flesh. The Z4M is probably one of the most underrated ĎMí cars of all time, not because it isnít a great performance car, but because very few people are aware of its existence.
Utter the phrase ĎBMW M3í and most people probably know what youíre talking about. BMWís most popular product has become a synonym for performance cars the world over, but very few people outside of hardcore petrolheads know what a Z4M is. Although itís basically built from the same basic components as the E46 M3, the E85/E86 Z4M is an entirely different beast altogether.
This particular example I found on our site is a manual-equipped Coupe with 75,000 miles on the clock. At just under £19,500, itís a little more expensive than the M3 I highlighted last week, but it also appears to be in superb condition. So, the question that now arises is this: If you have £20k and are looking to buy a performance BMW, should you go for the M3 or the Z4M?
The E46 M3 is a design icon. The regular E46 itself is a great looking vehicle, but the M3 is in an entirely different league altogether. That being said, if youíre a fan of aggressive styling and massively-flared arches, you might not find the Z4M to be all that pretty. Truth be told, the Z4M probably looks like a regular Z4 to most people bar BMW fanatics.
Itís nowhere near as aggressive as an E46 M3, but it more than makes up for it with how sleek it looks from the side. Park them next to each other, and the differences are immediately obvious. For all its hype, the M3 is based on a regular 3-Series, a car you can buy with a measly 2.0-litre diesel. The Z4M, with its long bonnet and its sloping canopy-like roofline, was clearly designed to be a sports car from the get-go.
Let me start off by saying Iím not a massive fan of the front fascia. The headlights look a bit wonky and I think BMW could have done a better job of making the front end look less like a bloated catfish and more like a shark. As much as I dislike the front headlights, I canít fault the rear, because to my eyes, itís absolutely perfect.
The taillights are the right size and shape, and I love how theyíre subtly recessed inside the rear quarter panels. I love the fact it has four exhaust pipes and a little hatch spoiler, which although it probably doesnít do much, it looks as cool as you like. Do I prefer the way it looks over the M3? If Iím being brutally honest, no, I donít, but thereís more to the Z4M than looks alone.
Unfortunately, interior design isnít the Z4Mís strong suit either. Build quality is excellent and you can tell theyíve spent a lot of time putting everything in the cabin together, but sadly, it just isnít that exciting to look at. BMWís of this era have mundane cabins which have been excellently pieced together but present no eye candy whatsoever.
Having said that, Iíd like to point out that I love this particular Z4Mís cabin, mostly because itís got gorgeous red leather seats, but also because of the amazingly upholstered red door panels. The driving position is somewhat of a revelation too. You sit much lower than you do in an M3, and the steering wheel feels better positioned somehow. The gear stick is brilliantly tactile and I canít praise BMW enough for sticking with manual handbrakes instead of opting for silly electronic ones (Iím looking at you Mercedes).
Engine and Performance
The Z4M shares its engine with the E46 M3, which means it also gets the same 3.0-litre naturally-aspirated straight-six, pumping out 338 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. Despite being rear-wheel driven, itíll catapult to 62 mph in just 4.8 seconds, making it incredibly quick even by todayís standards.
However, despite using roughly the same running gear as its M3 sibling, the Z4M has a hidden ace up its sleeve: stiffness and rigidity. Drive them back to back, and the differences are immediately obvious. Not only is the Z4M some 15 stone (95kg) lighter than the M3, but its chassis also has less flex and more torsional rigidity.
In terms of acceleration and power, both cars feel roughly identical. Where they differ is how they behave when you turn the wheel and attack some bends. The M3 is a brute in comparison to the Z4M. You sometimes have to manhandle it in a way you simply donít in the Z4M. The M3ís rear end is also livelier. It likes to step out in second-gear corners if you bury your foot in the loud pedal, which is fun, but not exactly the fastest way around a corner.
The Z4M is a much more precise instrument. If the M3 is a butcher knife, the Z4M is a surgical scalpel. Both the M3 and the Z4M use hydraulic steering racks, something rarely found on most modern cars. As a result, the steering is bristling with feedback and placing the car is a doddle. If I had one criticism, it would definitely be directed towards the brakes. Theyíre perfectly adequate, but for any sort of track work or seriously spirited driving, you should at least upgrade the pads.
Model: BMW Z4M
Why buy one?
What else can I say? The Z4M is another one of those classic cars in the making. I think it has the potential to be even more desirable than a mint M3 CSL one day, but thatís just me. If youíve got the cash and donít need the M3ís extra rear seats, what are you waiting for? The Z4M is essentially an E46 M3 with fewer seats and 10 per cent extra rigidity. Yes, itís not as practical as an M3 for day-to-day activities, but who cares? Get it while you still can, because prices seem to be quickly skyrocketing. Head to DesperateSeller.co.uk where we have a huge selection of used BMW Z4 cars for sale.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
View the car here: 2007 Bmw Z4m - £19,470