BMW Z4 35i manual | Spotted

This era of Z4 never quite hit the spot – it might with M2 matching power and Ohlins suspension…

By Matt Bird / Tuesday, 14 November 2023 / Loading comments

It’s never quite been clear what BMW wants to make with the Z4. Even now, for what must be the final one produced, there are parts that make it feel like a proper sports car, parts that feel like a laidback GT, and parts that make it feel like any other BMW. Across three generations you’d be forgiven for thinking that BMW made it because it felt that it should – rather than with all the effort possible. There have been highlights along the way (remember the original 3.0si), though for a model that’s always featured a straight-six up front and rear-wheel drive, the Z4 has never really captivated enthusiasts in the way it might have. 

The E89 generation, seen here and launched in 2009, was recognition that BMW couldn’t beat the Boxster as a driving device; its approach changed, and the car was intended more as an SLK rival – the ultimate compact cruiser. So a folding hardtop was introduced (meaning no more coupe), there wasn’t an M version, electric power steering was standard – you get the idea. Manuals were rare, autos prevalent, with the dual-clutch-only version introduced very late on. 

In that context, this is an interesting spec. There’s the Atacama Yellow paint, for starters, which must have been an expensive option in 2010 and certainly brings a conservative design to life a little. It’s a range-topping sDrive35i, too, which means more than 300hp from the N54 twin-turbo straight-six. And it’s paired to a manual gearbox, so it’s about as driver-focused as this generation of Z4 got before the sDrive35iS. But there’s a little more to it than that…

Because this Z4 has been to the renowned BMW specialist Birds (no relation) for some upgrades. Most notable is the fitment of Ohlins Road and Track coilovers, which should have worked wonders for the ride and handling. Going off the Birds BMW price list and its four levels of B4 Dynamics Package, that’s at least £2,200 spent, and potentially up to nearly £4k depending on if anything else was included. It’s even been set up at an Ohlins specialist, to really get the most from the hardware. It’s the first Z4 we’ve seen with any work from Birds, and a whole lot more interesting as a result. The coilovers mean the baby BMW’s stance is improved, too – it looks like much more of a sports car now. 

There’s some additional power as well, with induction, intercooler and ECU tweaks yielding 370hp, up from the standard 306. A useful gain, then, and should mean performance similar to that of the original BMW M2 (which made 370hp from the later N55 engine). Bet it sounds great, too. 

Should the next owner wish to build on it, the car surely offers an encouraging foundation to work with. If a Boxster is a bit predictable, a yellow BMW with thousands spent on its suspension must appeal a bit. Or those just waiting on a great spec of manual Z4 will be happy – they don’t turn up very often. The price is higher than average because of just 19,000 miles, but then the appeal of three pedals and more focused chassis is probably quite niche as well; there’s surely a deal to be done that benefits all parties. Do let us know if it’s finally the old Z4 come good…


Engine: 2,979cc, twin-turbo straight six
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 306@5,800rpm (standard)
Torque (lb ft): 295@1,300-5,000rpm
MPG: 30.1
CO2: 219g/km
First registered: 2010
Recorded mileage: 19,216
Price new: £42,870 (2013, standard)
Yours for: £19,950

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