The challenge with driving on a country road, or anywhere where infrastructure is poor, is that you often have to negotiate pedestrians and animals in areas where a first-world citizen might expect a pavement to be. The main routes might not have much of a shoulder to speak of and it feels safer to drive in the middle of the road especially if those routes are not well lit.
It’s a habit that kicks in when I’m on the open road in the Cape Winelands test-driving the new BMW Z4, so you can imagine the frustration of driving a car that stymies your ability to do that. (For good reason of course – it’s all about making you a better, safer driver). Rookie error is all I can say – being unused to driving anything but a run-around, my co-driver had to point out the perks of BMW’s driver assistance technology when we were tasked with putting the new BMW Z4 two-seater roadster through its paces. Every time I drifted into the centre of the road on our prescribed route through the Winelands, or seemed as though I might be considering a very lazy overtaking manoeuvre, the car’s electronic system would set me straight. Literally. Once he changed the setting for the Lane Change and Lane Departure warnings, I could relax and enjoy the experience of driving this little beauty with the top down.
From an aesthetic point of view, both of us are tall, and appreciated the amazing leg room. It’s incredibly quiet inside the car, even with the top down, which opens in 10 seconds at the push of a button at speeds under 50km/hr. I was fascinated by the attention to detail that was clearly evident in the interior layout, finishes and trim. Another point in this car’s favour is more generous boot space, compared to its predecessor.
I loved the Head-up Display on the BMW 8 Series Coupé, which projects your mileage and speed onto the windscreen just above the steering wheel, but in the BMW Z4 I found the screen difficult to read with my sunglasses on. It sets a new standard for open-top driving, however. As Edward Makwana, BMW’s Manager: Group Product Communications put it: “It’s not a car you need, it’s one you desire. It makes a statement.”
From Racetrack to Road
Out on the road, it felt like the BMW 8 Series Coupé M850i xDrive got more attention than the BMW Z4 Roadster, mainly because of its F1®-like throaty growl which the petrol heads in the press group had great fun recording for social media. Designed for individual customisation by the discerning buyer, the BMW 8 Series Coupé can adopt a racing face or a luxurious face. It’s your choice.
Unpacked as a luxury sports car, with knowledge gleaned from the racing model and transferred into the production car, the BMW 8 Series Coupé has a special development story. It is the production counterpart of the BMW M8 GTE, which debuted at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June last year.
Bound to be a dream car for many, it boasts outstanding performance and design as well as state-of-the-art luxury, display, control, driver assistance and connectivity. The M leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons and shift paddles for manual gear selection help you make the mental switch to racing face, and then there’s the acceleration spec – 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds!
Encouraging Better Driving
The BMW Live Cockpit Professional in-car system offers a fully digital display of the navigation and entertainment system, among others. The intention is to help you become a better driver, focusing your attention on the particular driving situation, and always providing the relevant information.
The BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system maximises traction and handling stability while the rear-biased set-up allows for the possibility of powering out of bends (or out of trouble, as need dictates) in requisite style.
Described as a luxurious comfortable cruiser or a dynamic beast, there’s no other car in this segment that offers both. So what will it be?
Visit BMW to get more technical insights.
*Recommended retail price as of March 2019, standard model, excluding customisation:
BMW Z4 sDrive20i Sport Line R755 900
BMW M850i xDrive Coupé R1 872 900
Words by: Debbie Hathway