BMW Z3 1.8 Roadster (E36 / 7) driving report

Hans-Dieter Seufert
BMW Z3 1.8 Roadster (E36 /7) in the driving report
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Since 1989 Mazda has been showing with the MX-5 how to achieve top values ​​with a roadster : In the first two years, the Japanese build 141,000 copies, triggering a new wave of roadsters. All other manufacturers overslept the development, including BMW. In order to close the gap as soon as possible, is running B MW the planning of a roadster then in full swing: The design of the open two-seater was adopted in 1992.

BMW Z3 Roadster in the basic version for 43,700 euros

The body line of the BMW Z3 Roadster was designed by the Japanese designer Joji Nagashima. He is inspired by classic BMW shapes: For example, he quotes the side ventilation grilles of the 507, which are controversial because they are only decorative without a technical function.

Actually, the BMW Z3 Roadster such little show effects are not necessary: ​​Based on the The 3er Compact (E36) is a simple, open two-seater that is already a lot of driving fun with the four-cylinder engine. The tightly cut interior and the light fabric hood underline the puristic roadster feeling that comes with the Z3.

In addition, BMW can only buy the basic version of the Z3, which is built at the US plant in Spartanburg in South Carolina 43,700 marks and therefore at an amazingly low price that is almost on par with Mazda's bestseller.

Convincing sports car

Nevertheless, the typical BMW flair is retained. Even the first seat sample tells the fan of the Bavarian brand: You are at home. The three-spoke steering wheel, the dashboard and switches and buttons in the BMW Z3 Roadster are the same as in the Compact. Only the smooth hard plastic of the dashboard disturbs the atmosphere a little, but it is easier to care for in an open car than the dimpled material of the sedan.

But the BMW Z3 Roadster is primarily built for driving: with one twist of the ignition key, the familiar sound of the classic Munich four-cylinder, in the case of the 318i from theE36 series. The ZF transmission with five gears can be shifted as usual with short distances.

The chassis also gives a good feeling: In the rear, as in the E36 Compact, the same semi-trailing arm from the second 3-generation E30 works -Rear axle. However, with a length of 4.02 meters, the BMW Z3 Roadster is 20 centimeters shorter than the compact sedan, which makes the two-seater appear even more nimble. This impression is reinforced by the power steering, which is a little more direct compared to the hatchback sedan.

BMW Z3 Roadster delivers up to 321 hp

If you have one of the silky smooth under the dome-like bonnet that slopes forward wanted a running six-cylinder, had to be patient for a year after the start of series production: From 1996 the 2.8-liter DOHC six-cylinder spoiled with 192 hp and full torque.

Today you have to go for the six-cylinder variants spend a good 3,000 euros more on the classic market than for a four-cylinder. In addition to the more powerful engine, there is also better equipment and a chassis adapted to the higher performance - and a slightly beefier body shape.

This also served as a model for the facelift of 1999. With up to 321 hp strong Z3 M, there is the ultimate solution for the Bayern roadster. With a power-to-weight ratio of just over four kilograms per hp, the BMW Z3 Roadster from the Munich sports department leaves nothing to be desired.

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