Twin Test

Drives

THIS MONTH’S NEWCOMER TAKES ON THE CLASS BENCHMARK

BMW Z4 M40i TOYOTA SUPRA GTS

Equipment and value

There’s no gentle way to break this, so let’s address the elephant in the room first. At $124,900, the Z4 M40i is 32 percent pricier than the mechancially similar Supra. Yes, you get that folding soft top to help cultivate your melanoma and a quality Harman Kardon 12-speaker audio system, but the three-year warranty’s a bit mean. Counter it with a $1650 service deal for five years/ 80,000km which includes fluids, filters and spark plug changes. 18/25

The additional $10K over the entry-level Supra GT nets you a head-up display, as in the Z4, 19-inch forged alloy wheels, upgraded brakes with red calipers, and a 12-speaker JBL stereo. The Supra realises an advantage over the BMW courtesy of a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty (against Munich’s threeyear deal) after which there are four capped-priced servicing visits at $380 each at 12-month or 15,000km intervals, whichever arrives first. 20/25

Space and comfort

Headroom in the Z4 is a little tight, extending to 150 million kilometres at the touch of a button. The seating position of this generation Z4 has changed subtly, so you no longer feel as if your fundament is planted atop the rear axle, and there’s now space to recline. The dial pack is a bit of a miss, with fussy graphics and, if you switch the ‘box to manual mode, the world’s tiniest indicator of which gear you’re in. The boot’s a reasonable 281 litres. 12/25

Quite what species the door apertures of the Supra are designed for is open to conjecture, but it doesn’t seem to be Homo sapiens. Some may nurse a sore head upon first acquaintance. Inside, it’s tight and snug behind the big 373mm steering wheel, and while the seats are good, your left elbow drops straight into the centre console cupholder. The head-up display is big and clear, although cabin access to the 296-litre boot is unusual. 14/25

Ride and handling

The steering wheel rim’s chubbier than a well-fed carpet python but there is some surprising delicacy to the BMW’s steering. While you’d expect the open-topped Z4 to feel a little less focused than a coupe, body rigidity is excellent and there’s nuance to its stability control electronics. The ride is fairly firm and on poor roads the seatbelt’s inertia reel repeatedly activates, trying to hold your body in check. Handling’s good, but it’s still no Boxster. 22/25

At first the Supra feels perplexing and it takes time to key into the duality of its personality. It can feel a little languid and disinterested at first, but there’s real talent here if you’re prepared to learn its idiosyncrasies. The Supra doesn’t like being flicked into a corner, preferring deliberate inputs and a measured weight transfer. It sounds good in sports mode and possesses a mighty front end but the stability control calibration is disappointingly clumsy. 21/25

Performance and economy

It’s hard to fault this engine, apart from its occasionally discordant acoustics. It’s certainly muscular enough. We tested it at 4.5 seconds to 100km/h, which is acceptably brisk and, amazingly, with the hood up it was a good deal quieter than the Supra in the cabin, averaging 70.65dB in testing versus the Toyota’s 72.55dB on identical Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber. Fuel economy is a claimed 7.4L/100km, which just edges the Supra. 22/25

The Sport drive mode affords a few extra pops and bangs on the overrun, but the Toyota doesn’t want for drama. Our best time in testing was 4.4 seconds to 100km/h. Independent dyno testing suggests that this engine routinely makes more than its quoted 250kW. Fuel economy is rated at 7.7L/100km. The automatic gearbox logic is excellent, so you won’t trouble the paddles too often, but the launch-control system is less impressive. 22/25

THE VERDICT

74 /100

77 /100

Pay less, get more 

There’s no doubt that of this pair, the BMW Z4 M40i is the more cultured, better finessed car. Its problem is that for 30 grand less, you can buy a car that is more charismatic, goes harder, offers a superior warranty and, we suspect, delivers better long-term residuals. Perhaps the Z4’s problem is that it’s not the best BMW coupe for around $100K, that title being claimed by the M2 Competition. If you prefer the Supra’s extrovert styling and refreshing breadth of talent, we’re certainly not going to judge you. Maybe BMW should rethink its decision not to build a full-fat Z4M.