Z3 roadster: entering the next millennium with fresh momentum
Since the first BMW Z3 roadsters were delivered to their owners in May 1996, more than 170,000 of these small sports cars, which soon became the market leader in its segment, are to be admired on roads the world over.
Beginning in April 1999, all models with the exception of the M roadster will receive discreet but striking refinements: Apart from the smaller engines now updated to the latest standard, design improvements both inside and outside will move the BMW Z3 roadster into the next millennium with new momentum. Particularly the rear wheel arches now with even more distinctive contours accentuate the sporting character of the car and a very special feature with BMW: powerful rear-wheel drive.
Setting these new standards, the Z3 is naturally retaining its typical roadster styling with a long and sleek engine compartment lid, a low waistline, and a short, squat rear end. Now the waistline reaching its lowest point next to the seats rises up clearly towards the rear end of the car. The restyled luggage compartment lid, L-shaped rear light clusters and the redesigned rear bumpers with the same wide rear axle track so far to be admired only on the six-cylinder Z3 roadster and M roadster, round off the new look of the rear end of the car. The discreetly revised front end with fully enclosed headlights, the BMW kidney grille slightly differing in styling from one model to another, and new wheels add to the new, fresh look of BMW’s successful model from South Carolina.
The interior of the Z3 also has been revised in a number of significant details: A new, smaller sports steering wheel (with an airbag igniting in two stages), roof lining with insulation protection available in the Z3 for the first time, attractive and pleasant-feeling plastic surfaces and the redesigned center console significantly upgrade the interior within the roadster.
In technical terms the new 1999 Z3 is also state-of-the-art in every respect: All models now come with the “six-cylinder axle” featuring a stiffer rear swinging arm. Engine power, in turn, is the same as in the new 3 Series sedan, the range extending from the high-torque four-cylinder with balance shafts and maximum output of 87 kW/118 bhp to the straight-six power unit displacing 2.0 and, respectively, six-cylinder and developing maximum output of 110 kW/150 bhp and 142 kW/193 bhp. The top performer, of course, remains the M roadster with its shattering 236 kW/321 bhp in-line six-cylinder.
Features shared by all these engines are their compliance with all future emission standards and even longer service intervals the driver is largely able to determine himself through his particular style of motoring for even lower cost of ownership. Enough reasons, therefore, to paint a bright future for the updated BMW Z3 roadster.