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      02-23-2017, 03:40 PM   #1
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Brief Comparo - Z4M vs 228i

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Wrote up a blog piece about my shared ownership experience of the Z4M Coupe and my wife's 228i Msport MT. Two very different cars, almost equivalent in price and both representative of the best enthusiast BMW offerings!

Best of BMW Reviewed: New vs Used - 228i vs Z4M

http://oppositelock.kinja.com/best-o...=1487862742512

Poised to strike - Hiding out in the garages at Laguna Seca while the CA monsoon rages on


(Full disclosure: Besides shared ownership of these fine automobiles, the author has no real credibility in journalism nor car reviews. Opinions taken from 1-2 years of daily driving, canyon runs and track outings. Your mileage may vary.)

Given a blank check for $32,000, most car enthusiasts would drive themselves and any innocent bystander crazy. New, used, restomod, engine swapped, etc; the combinations of car purchases are infinite. Let’s assume for simplicity sake the buyer is constrained to one make (BMW) and seeks a well respected car reflective of the company’s heritage.

In the new corner we have the BMW 228i MSport MT. A now seasoned car released in 2014 that has risen to the top of its segment including accolades from Road & Track and Jalopnik itself, despite heavy favoritism garnered towards it’s big bad brother the M2.


Brand spanking new back in 2014


In the old corner we have the BMW Z4M Coupe. Long heralded as one of the last true drivers cars to leave BMW with a manual transmission, hydraulic steering and naturally aspirated inline 6 cylinder engine. Not fully appreciated during its brief tenure, the Z4M coupe sits somewhere alongside the iconic E46 M3 and 1M in terms of desirability and collectability.


Rapidly approaching its 10th birthday


Exterior

Taking from my own prior musings, the 2 series is a slightly more grown up, refined and in my opinion stylish remake of the previous 1 series. A crease wraps around the car into BMWs new rear end which feels the same for nearly every numerical designation, this time it gets a tiny integrated spoiler. The front hood extends further to a menacing grill I find more appealing than that presented in the M2. In estoril blue, it is an attractive car no doubt, however it still feels a bit emasculated in the face of the 3 series. 6/10



The Z4M is a bright spot in Chris Bangle’s tenure as head designer (attributed mainly to Anders Warming), throwing back to the iconic Z3 clownshoe days with a GT style elongated hoodline, pumped up rear fenders and low stance. Although not for everybody, it’s compact package and wide hips make for a fun sports car experience. 7/10




Interior

BMW circa 2006 vs modern BMW - I can tell you it’s not all progress. The 228i interior is admittedly a much more pleasant place to spend time. It’s spacious, full of leather everywhere with usable rear seats and center console. The M seats hug the driver and the M steering wheel falls into place. Negatives - the seating position forces the steering wheel to obscure part of the digital dash from the driver. There is no sunglasses holder and the infotainment system feels like a tablet stuck to the dash. 7/10


Terra Cotta Brown leather sans the technology package.


Meanwhile both the driver and passenger literally fall into the low slung Z4M coupe and sit far back, as if piloting a boat deep within the hull. Folks over 6 ft are going to feel a squeeze here as head and leg room are sparse. Less is more here, and all the controls are easily within the driver’s reach. The extended leather package and ‘carbon’ trim work well here to hide the cars age, however the radio, GPS! And cup holders feel like last minute choices that provide plenty of rattles 10 years later. Nevermind the doors, ambient traffic and tire noise are your companions. Ohh and one more thing, you never know where the front bumper ends and the curb begins. 6/10.


Shades of black, yet the minimalist button approach is appreciated and aging well.


Acceleration

The 228i is a bit of surprise in this segment with the new turbocharged four cylinder (N20B20?). Sport mode, check. Blip the throttle, point and go and the little BMW obliges, offering a slight whoosh as the turbo comes off boost. It scoots no doubt, but it never truly feels FAST. Below 3700 rpm the car sheds its turbo character and is rather docile. 6.5/10

Step on it in the Z4M and you’ll quickly be reminded of the S54 engines notorious character. 2000 rpm check. 3000 rpm check. 4000 rpm - here we go. 5000 holy hell VANOS and induction wail. Continue climbing towards an 8500rpm redline and feel torque that can actually pin you to your seat (however briefly). In the modern era of big power it’s not catch-you-by-surprise fast, just genuine speed that will push you deeper into the brake pedal at the next stoplight. The throttle response is instant and almost overly aggressive with Sport Mode engaged - this car likes to buck. 8/10

Braking

Unfortunately I lack any real acuity to help differentiate the pedal feel, brake characteristics and fade of these two cars. Only the Z4M has seen the track - defer to the big guns here and I’ll supplement my 2 cents. On the street and canyon the 228i MSport brakes provide no complaints - predictable, smooth and chalk full of magic German brake dust. The Z4M comes standard with the drilled rotors and brake package from the E46 M3 CSL edition. They do a stellar job but most track veterans seek aftermarket alternatives. NA/10.

Ride/Handling

Riding on KW Clubsports, the Z4M constantly reminds its driver just how crappy of a job the road maintenance crews are doing. It’s low, bumpy and easily upset making stop-n-go a real chore. Hydraulic steering garners precise feedback to the driver making them ever-connected to the road. On a smooth back road or track the car is sublime.. 7/10

For what it’s worth, the 228i also boasts a near 50/50 weight distribution making it rather agile and confidence inspiring. Steering is quick, but it lacks feel and a connection to the road. General comfort is a bit softer and more compliant, making it joyful to drive in all traffic situations. Press the //M button and you get another animal altogether with more poised steering and sharper inputs. Wherein the 228i absolutely wins ride quality, the electronic steering offers a very different definition of feel compared to its hydraulic counterpart in the Z4M. Steering feel is muted at best and does not inspire confidence in the driver when pushing hard corners. 7/10


Stretching the Z4Ms legs in the best setting


Gearbox

I envision the 228i gearbox is an evolution of the E46/E86 era with a reformed ethos. Shifts are smooth and forgiving with a slightly longer throw than desired, coupled with a 1->2 shift that never seems to come perfectly. It does the trick but those hunting lap times will find a more precise and quicker setup to their liking. 7/10

The Z4M shift is hair shorter and more direct, leading to a much more pleasing shift. Touchy gas and clutch pedals can make the car finicky and likely to shutter aggressively under the control of those uninitiated. BMW still lacks the complete package of a Porsche gearbox and is not so flickable as a S2K or Miata. 8/10

Value

Let’s face it, the average joe is not going to cross shop these cars. The 228i MSport is above and beyond a better car in all situations encountered by the driver. It’s compliant, usable for long trips, seats 4 and can rear its sports car heritage when asked. It’s proportions are refreshing in a sea of bloated sedans and SUVs, most of all I never feel stressed when behind the wheel.


Where the Z4M spends a lot of time lately.


The Z4M coupe enters traffic with the strut of a cowboy gunslinger. It means business and provides ear to ear grins. Driving it is a treat, and you truly sit IN the car not ON the car. Place it on a backroad and cherish the inline 6 induction wail followed by aftermarket exhaust bangs and pops down the rev range. Maintenance is no cake walk, with most parts showing wear and tear from simple age or miles covered. Not to be seduced by the presence of a large trunk or sunglasses holder, every trip in bumper-to-bumper traffic on cruddy pavement will remind you of it’s true home.

I am fortunate to have access to both these cars and enjoy them in all duties. Review rankings do little to sway a decision - the everyday usability of the 228i shines while I try to resist the look and feel of a true sports car. Forced to pick just one, I am afraid my wallet and appetite for repair stories may be the deciding factor. Luckily that is a decision I do not have to make today.



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      02-24-2017, 04:06 AM   #2
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      02-24-2017, 05:26 AM   #3
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Nice!
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      02-24-2017, 04:09 PM   #4
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EXCELLENT write up and review sir! thank you so much for that
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      02-24-2017, 04:14 PM   #5
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Written nicely, well done sir !
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      02-24-2017, 04:52 PM   #6
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Nicely done! Thank You!

The Z4M is truly an elegant beast! Beautiful!
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      02-24-2017, 05:14 PM   #7
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Great article!
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      02-24-2017, 07:13 PM   #8
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my dream collectors car
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      02-24-2017, 07:52 PM   #9
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Well, I don't have the turbo version, but my wife tracks a souped up manual 128i and I track a Z4m.

I did the required upgrades to the 128...suspension, camber plates, 3-stage intake, headers, exhaust, and tune. If you believe Active Autowerke, the car is putting down 248hp and 225tq at the wheels.

I play around with both on the track, obviously very different cars. I offered to get her a Z, but she didn't like sitting so low and far back. She does about 15 track days a year. The running costs are pretty low compare to the Z. I've not had one issue with the car. She has a blast and that's really all that matters.

The 128 is not as fast as the Z in the straight, but it does pretty well in the corners. I catch stock e36 M3s all day. Perhaps if I ripped out the interior and poured some money into upgraded brakes, I could shave a few seconds per lap, but she likes it like it is, so I'm leaving good enough alone.
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      02-24-2017, 08:00 PM   #10
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Cool review and write up! Thanks for the read
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      02-24-2017, 08:21 PM   #11
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Miss my old z4m coupe, such a unique car and still a head turner. You are right though that for drivers over 6ft tall you really run out of interior room quickly.
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      02-24-2017, 09:29 PM   #12
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Fantastic post! I thought about doing the exact same thing comparing my E36 M3 vs E92 M3 vs Z4MR
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      02-24-2017, 10:09 PM   #13
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A pleasure to read and nice to read about the true bmw cars -z4m that BMW was known for building.
Thank you and well done!
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      02-24-2017, 10:10 PM   #14
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Very nice post, thanks! I agree with your comments, except the appearance of the coupe. I've had one since 2007 and I still think it looks fantastic. There's nothing else that looks like it and it has aged incredibly well. I'd give it a 9/10 (well, I'd give it at 10/10 but that would seem rediculous).
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      02-24-2017, 10:20 PM   #15
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I see this as well written. Your prose is very good.

Thoughts were articulated and easy to follow in relation of your statements.

The images are well placed and give context to each section.

This comparison was conceived and executed in a smooth and refreshing way to show readers two cars they wouldn't cross-shop.

That's what makes it interesting. Very nice.
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      02-24-2017, 10:26 PM   #16
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Really good article, and really relevant to me as I'm considering making my 128i a track car and buying a DD like a 228i, or buying something like a z4m as a track car, and keeping the 128i as a DD.

It's too bad a manual 228i is so hard to find.
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      02-24-2017, 11:31 PM   #17
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Thanks for the kind remarks all! Put a lot of effort into trying to keep it succinct, enjoyable and informative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan13 View Post
Well, I don't have the turbo version, but my wife tracks a souped up manual 128i and I track a Z4m.
I play around with both on the track, obviously very different cars. I offered to get her a Z, but she didn't like sitting so low and far back. She does about 15 track days a year. The running costs are pretty low compare to the Z
Great to hear and you touched on the real differences right there between a sports coupe and sport sedan. Lowering running costs would be nice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by W/// View Post
Fantastic post! I thought about doing the exact same thing comparing my E36 M3 vs E92 M3 vs Z4MR
Do it! I know more than a few people who have cross-shopped those cars including myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinM View Post
Very nice post, thanks! I agree with your comments, except the appearance of the coupe. I'd give it a 9/10
Hah, I'm trying not to be overly biased. A 10/10 would be an exotic in my mind, but I find the Z4M looks growing on me and different colors bring out different lines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deemo319 View Post
That's what make it interesting. Very nice.
Thanks for the honest thoughts, writing for fun mostly but trying to share something others would appreciate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hops128i View Post
Really good article, and really relevant to me as I'm considering making my 128i a track car and buying a DD like a 228i, or buying something like a z4m as a track car, and keeping the 128i as a DD.

It's too bad a manual 228i is so hard to find.
I have limited 1 series experience but I imagine the 228i to be only a slight upgrade. Yes, my wife and I waited 14 weeks for her custom order MT 228i (dealer initially ordered the wrong car with the ZF paddleshift). The Z4M makes a beastly (and pretty) track car but expendables are not cheap, plenty of folks running non-M Z4s or an E36 M3 instead.
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      02-24-2017, 11:40 PM   #18
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      02-24-2017, 11:43 PM   #19
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You may want to correct torque to ft lbs not in lbs. Not that it matters much probably feels like it.
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      02-24-2017, 11:49 PM   #20
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Shhhhh. Don't tell anyone about the Z4M coupe! I wanna be able to get one at a reasonable price some day.



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      02-25-2017, 01:15 AM   #21
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Z4M is most likely the last BMW I'll ever own. I'm on my second one now and plan on driving it forever. Nothing that has come out in the past 10 years has interested me in the least, and the car is everything I could ever want/need. The only thing I could see possibly changing my mind is if the car turns into a money pit, but I've put over 60k miles on both examples I've owned and the worst thing to happen so far is the window switch stopped working on one.

To me, it's the greatest BMW ever made and for the life of me I cannot understand why so many people have slept on the car. Even now, 10 year old examples are the best bang for the buck out there.

Here's my baby.

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      02-25-2017, 01:48 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickyC View Post
Z4M is most likely the last BMW I'll ever own. I'm on my second one now and plan on driving it forever. Nothing that has come out in the past 10 years has interested me in the least, and the car is everything I could ever want/need. The only thing I could see possibly changing my mind is if the car turns into a money pit, but I've put over 60k miles on both examples I've owned and the worst thing to happen so far is the window switch stopped working on one.

To me, it's the greatest BMW ever made and for the life of me I cannot understand why so many people have slept on the car. Even now, 10 year old examples are the best bang for the buck out there.

Here's my baby.

I'm interested, what's the best year to look for?
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