The group of sporty German roadsters we're testing has proven to be rather tricky to buy, but our recent BMW Z4 purchase ended with good savings and a road trip.
Because we buy all the cars we test, anonymously, we go through the same buying process that you would. Sometimes, though, we have to make very specific choices of options, specifications, or trim levels that may not be easy to find sitting on dealers' lots. That's what happened with our new Z4.
We last tested the Z4 in 2005, shortly after it came out. The company updated it with a folding hardtop for 2009, and for 2012, a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine replaced the old base six-cylinder. BMW claims a five mpg improvement on the EPA driving cycle with the same 240 hp horsepower the previous model had.
We wanted the new turbo four-cylinder with a six-speed manual transmission. This specific combination proved difficult to locate. It appears that most Z4s are automatic—those were the easiest to find. One dealership near us was willing to find us a car for about $2,000 less than sticker. But when we called them back, they said they'd have to charge us for shipping the car.
By this time, our buyer had located the same car that the local dealer wanted to sell us in Rochester, NY. Plus, the Rochester dealer gave us an even better deal.
So our shopper caught a plane (or two, actually) to Rochester to buy the car. She felt she got a good price on the car and had a nice, seven-hour road trip, to boot.
Spring in New England is a delightful time for convertible driving, so we expect to have no problem accumulating break-in miles. Once we have a chance to complete our full range of instrumented testing, we'll see if the Z4 sDrive28i can live up to its new mileage claims and BMWs reputation for driving enjoyment. Stay tuned!