BMW Z4 Coupe: The art of automotive seduction

This fast, curvaceous model changed James Daley's mind about sports cars. He's emigrating
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Indy Lifestyle Online

I've never been a big fan of sports cars. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I've always had an inherent prejudice against anyone I met who owned one. To me, someone who was prepared to spend upwards of £30,000 on a car - however fast or handsome it may have been - was clearly either a) deeply insecure, or b) in possession of far more money than sense - or both.

All this changed about three weeks ago, however, when I was handed the keys to a BMW Z4 coupé at Frankfurt airport - and given four days to give the car a thrashing along the autobahn and around the German countryside.

Although I've driven sports cars before - and even taken them up to top speeds around Jonathan Palmer's racetrack in Bedfordshire - no car I've ever had the pleasure of driving has been quite as seductive as BMW's latest model.

This is a car with which I struggled to find a single imperfection. From its sleek exterior design (much less boxy and more attractive than the regular Z4), right through to its smooth handling and hi-tech interior, this is a vehicle that cannot fail to impress anyone.

Inside, every detail is designed to perfection: leather-upholstered seats and door panels; state-of-the-art sound and sat-nav systems; manual gear-change levers on the steering wheel for those who cannot bear to let the automatic engine have all the fun - and a fantastic view right down the car's long and, dare I say it, rather sexy bonnet.

The car's appearance has something of the Batmobile about it. With my sunglasses on, it was necessary to keep reminding myself that I was neither a superhero nor James Bond.

To drive, it is a dream - responsive and controlled and, with its enormous 3.0-litre engine, incredibly fast. Although the manufacturer claims that the Z4 has a top speed of 250kph (155mph), this is an artificial limitation - not a true measure of what the car can really do. At 200kph (125mph), it feels as if it is barely trying. Even as it hits 250kph, the engine is crying out to go faster.

Although I've never been a big fan of automatic cars, I've always enjoyed the moment when the accelerator is almost at the floor, but not quite. An extra push - and the cars drop a gear and disappear. In a BMW Z4, this experience is breathtaking. Hitting the floor - even as you're doing 150kph - throws you back into your seat, and leaves most cars on the autobahn to eat dust.

As I put the car to bed on the first night, I sat rather red-faced in my hotel room, thinking of how easily I had been seduced by a big piece of metal. Was I having a mid-life crisis? At 29, it seemed a little premature.

But then something occurred to me; while I had enjoyed the freedom of speed-unlimited autobahns, I considered how frustrating it would be to own a car of such power in Britain. Each time I hit the autobahn, I found it almost impossible to cruise at anything less than 170kph (105mph). Back home, that would be instant disqualification, possibly jail.

Although the car certainly attracts attention - and probably can go some way towards filling the void in the lives of insecure middle-aged men - I couldn't help thinking that owning a car like this in Britain would be like tantric sex - all the action, but no climax.

Don't get me wrong; I really have been converted to the joys of beautiful and fast cars. And what was once a savings fund for my future children is now full of money that one day I hope to spend on an entirely different sort of baby - a big metal navy-blue one. But I'll be sure to emigrate to Germany first.

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