A very OT review: the 2013 BMW Z4 28i

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In a break from regular programming, I’m going to take up one of my readers’ suggestions from a flickr comment and review something different for a change: a car. There are a few automotive journalists I admire and whose work I enjoy for various reasons; the Top Gear trio, Chris Harris, etc. But I’m going to approach this in the same style I approach my camera reviews: from an unashamedly practical standpoint and with some nice images. I’m an enthusiast and nothing more. Read on if you dare.

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Firstly, there’s no point in debating ultimates: practically, it matters nought whether your car hits 100km/h in 4.2 or 4.3 seconds; you’re never going to use it anyway. In fact, you’ll hit 100km/h in at best the same time as the laboring lorry with the cracked exhaust that’s one car ahead of you in the same traffic jam: never. So, cars are even more frustrating than cameras: even if we have the skill, conditions almost never allow us to realize their full potential – and unlike cameras, we don’t risk our lives and the lives of others if we make a mistake.

I’m reviewing this car – a 2013 model year (in the US, who like their cars to feel newer than they really are; 2012 in the rest of the world) BMW Z4 28i sDrive M sport. It’s a pre-facelift model (though the facelift only adds LED DRLs and slightly redesigned headlights). For a start, what a mouthful and a naming disaster – though the extra letters bring specificity, they’re also pretty much ignored most of the time. Because they are meaningless. Long ago, BMW used the last two digits of the model name to signify the engine capacity in 100cc increments; i meant fuel injection. So the 28i is supposedly a 2.8-litre, fuel injected engine. And being a BMW, you’d expect a straight-six. Except it’s really a 2.0 litre, twin-scroll turbocharged, direct injection engine. ‘SDrive’ is superfluous – ‘xDrive’ being the other alternative, signifying 4WD and being pointless because it’s not an option on this car anyway. Why on earth would you want a small sportscar/ roadster that’s front wheel drive? Or even four wheel drive, for that matter? (Audi fans aside.)

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A car needs to do a few things well. Firstly, operate reliably; secondly, be aesthetically pleasing; thirdly, be coherent: if it looks fast, it should be fast. If it looks roomy, it should be roomy. And I think the Z4 is mostly all of these things. The design of the thing is pretty gorgeous – in my opinion, at least; it was the only BMW in recent history designed entirely by an all-female design team; somehow they managed to make a car that looks not only masculine but also appeals to a masculine buyer; either that or perhaps I’ve got more estrogen than I thought. The proportions are classic roadster, exaggerated somewhat and reinterpreted in the modern post-Bangle BMW gestalt; a very, very long hood with crisp lines and creases swoops down over the front wings, extending into a very high shoulder line that follows the length of the doors. It serves to exaggerate the width of the car, make the cockpit appear more compact and purposeful, and terminates before the bulging rear haunches – which in themselves bring to mind the hindquarters of some animal that’s about to spring. Without the sharp creases, the proportions would look a bit too grotesque; instead they form visual breaks in the overall shape which both give an impression of modernity and tautness; as though the sheetmetal is spread over something mechanical and functionally purposeful. At the same time, it retains the brand DNA and is instantly recognizable as a BMW – the obligatory kidney grilles, the quad headlights with light rings, the bonnet creases and peripheral lower front bumper lips – are all present. I suppose in matte-gray it would probably look like a stealth fighter.

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I actually suspect the narrowness of the glasshouse is a consequence of its having to fold into the rear, which is slightly generous; the Z4 previously came in coupe and convertible variants, but for the E89 generation, both were merged into a single version with a folding hardtop. This gives you the best of both worlds – a roof-up coupe with no squeaks or rattles and a feeling of solidity; and a top-down convertible for when the sun shines. Interestingly – and as a credit to its designers – the car looks just as good with the roof up or down. This is something few convertibles can manage; save perhaps the new Ferrari 458 Spyder. The whole process takes about 30 seconds and can be accomplished up to 20km/h; I suppose it might work at higher speeds, but frankly I haven’t had the guts to try. It looks like a bit of a Rube Goldberg mechanism at best. There are two downsides to the roof: firstly, the mechanism adds weight (the panels themselves are aluminium and weigh just 7kg, most of which is glass); at ~1,480kg, this is a heavier car than you’d expect. Secondly, it eats up boot space – dropping from 310 to 180l with the roof stowed. And worse still, when the roof is in place, you can’t access anything in the boot unless it’s small and can be removed via a portal about six inches high and two feet wide.

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But that’s not the point. This is a car you buy because a) it’s fun, and b) it’s not a rational purchase – that said, I did have to make sure I could use this car on assignment since it would be my only vehicle; I’m pleased to report that it’ll fit one lighting bag the size of golf bag, one tripod bag that’s a bit smaller; two roll-on suitcases and a backpack – all without intruding into the passenger compartment. It’s definitely fun with the roof down; what I didn’t expect was that the driving experience with the roof down would be so different. It doesn’t urge you to go faster, though you certainly can if you want to; instead it’s more of a cruiser. You drive at a moderate pace and enjoy the scenery and the feeling of being in your environment rather than merely passing through it. I can imagine owning this car in a place with spectacular scenery would be immensely enjoyable indeed.

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Part of the reason you don’t feel like belting flat out is that I think this is an 8/10ths car; partially because some things aren’t fully resolved in stock spec, it’s best enjoyed with a bit of spirit but nothing too much. I find the suspension a bit too soft front-rear for the wheelbase even in Sport+ mode; (I have the optional M Dynamic variable suspension) the car squats under strong acceleration and as a result, actually understeers under power; it turns in more sharply under braking as the weight transfers back onto the nose. This is bizzare behaviour for a rear wheel drive vehicle, and baffling until you get used to it. I personally haven’t gotten used to it, because it simply doesn’t work the way I expect it to. So, I’ve installed stiffer H&R springs and dampers and anti-roll bars front and back, which have cured the handling and restored the expected rear wheel drive steer-it-on-the-throttle response. It has a very short wheelbase, and so demands some respect when driven with traction control off; but because you’re also pretty much sitting on the rear axle, your buttocks have a pretty good sense of when the rear is going to start sliding – even if the somewhat numb and light electric steering isn’t giving you as much feedback as you would like. I can understand why they killed hydraulic steering in the mass market models, but for a car that’s supposed to be about irrational driving enjoyment – it’s criminal.

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The drivetrain, on the other hand, is absolutely magnificent. It is undoubtedly the showpiece here – very much doing justice to the external design – and good enough to allow you to forget that there is no longer a straight-six under the bonnet. Though purists bemoan the slow death of the venerable 2.5 and 3.0 litre NA sixes, I’m not as picky: so long as it delivers the goods, sounds good, and is preferably reasonably economical, I’m happy. The N20B20 2.0 twin-scroll turbo used here is part of BMW’s new engine family that uses a modular 500cc cylinder architecture; they’ll all be direct injection, double-VANOS, turbocharged, and it’ll spawn a future 1.5l triple and next-generation 3.0, and in various states of tune, confuse buyers with 14i, 16i, 18i, 20i, 28i, 35i and 40i nonclementure. The basic formula will even be applied to the next generation of diesel engines.

I don’t really care, though: what matters is that it’s a superb engine. In standard tune, it puts out 245bhp and 350Nm; it wasn’t quite enough for me, so I’ve modified it slightly with a piggyback ECU. New figures: ~310bhp, 460Nm. That’s more like it; diesel-like torque for the low end, petrol-like responsiveness and a very willing high end. It’s even a good 30kg lighter than the outgoing 3.0 six it replaces. Whatever BMW have done with the exhaust design, it sounds fantastic; not at all like an inline-4 – if anything, more like a baby V8 under load – even if there is a very faint tappety diesel sound at idle due to direct injection. The gearbox it’s mated to is the much-vaunted ZF 8HP70; an 8-speeder with a conventional torque converter, but lightning-fast shifts and the ability to lock the converter completely at higher speeds. Coupled with the wheel-mounted shift paddles, it delivers power seamlessly; who needs the complexity of a double-clutch setup when you have a gearbox this good? Acceleration is brisk in any gear; there is some slight turbo lag, but it’s much more responsive if you have already allowed revs to build to about 3k and have some boost in the turbos; if not, just pull the paddle for an almost immediate lower gear. It will go higher, but things are mostly over by about 6000RPM.

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Practically, I’d say there are a few disadvantages. There isn’t a whole load of adjustment range in the cockpit due to the fairly small size; it may not fit larger people. I’m a small Asian, so by the time I’ve adjusted the seat and wheel to my preferred position – close to the wheel and fairly upright – I can fit another briefcase or suit bag behind my chair. It isn’t at all claustrophobic by any means, though; and the trimming and finishing details are nice enough that the car feels special when you’re in it; it’s a great place to spend time, and makes our never-ending Kuala Lumpur traffic less painful, though of course it would be better not to have it at all. My car has the optional iDrive and navigation screen; it’s nice to have, but frankly, Waze is far more practical because it has realtime traffic information, and that makes a huge difference here. It’s also easier to enter text to search for things with the iPhone’s keyboard rather than a rotary controller.

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To be honest though, it’s not something I pay a lot of attention to. I’ve now owned this car for four months; it’s enough time for me to get to know its moods, foibles and figure out if I like it long term. I’d been looking for a new car for about six months beforehand, and tried and dismissed several credible alternatives including – the Porsche Cayman R, the Lotus Exige, the BMW 520d, the BMW 328i, a used Audi RS6. I couldn’t bring myself to sign the papers either immediately, or after contemplation; it wasn’t the fault of the cars. They just weren’t quite right for me. But I actually bought the Z4 en-route to an assignment within about half an hour – stopping off at a dealer because I was a bit early. Never mind what the experts say – it just felt right. And since, like a camera, that feeling matters more than the spec sheet – I’ve had no regrets, shortcomings and all. I’ve even put more miles on this car than anything else I’ve previously owned; I look for excuses to drive it. And perhaps that is the best testament for anything. MT

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any Amazon or B&H links to the Z4, so I’ll have to pass up the 4% of whatever US sticker price is if one of you decides to buy one of the back of this review…


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  1. Great write up and pic’s, a lot of people put the emphasis on 0 to 60 or top speed but 28i it’s just a nice all round package. Could you give me any details on the piggyback ECU

  2. Michelle says:

    What a refreshing review Ming. You evaluated the Z4 on its own merits and I love that you shared what you have changed on the powertrain and handling for those of us who might consider. I purchased a stunning 2012 mineral white Z4 msport with the special edition chocolate and black interior…6 speed manual. I have had it for four months and love it more each day. And I, like you, look for reasons to drive this car and sometimes when I arrive in my parking garage I will linger to just enjoy. Powerful when I want to play and Zen like when it’s time to relax. IMHO The perfect balance.

  3. Dianne Isaacson says:

    Wonderful review and gorgeous images. Makes me want to run right out and buy a new Z4… but, alas, I will not. Currently, I drive a 2014 Z4 (black on red) and have loved it every moment I have owned it. It’s ten years old and still a heart stopper. I love it’s simplicity. Has everything I need or want and nothing I don’t. Your comment about being one with the environment really struck home for me. That’s exactly how it feels with the top down. Blissful.
    Thanks for a beautiful review of a very cool car.

  4. When my husband bought his Z3 back in the late ’90s, I commented: “… but honey, you can’t ever drive it as fast as it will go…” He just gave me “that Look”… Besides, he was IN LOVE with it, and I hadn’t seen him that happy in years ❤ !! It was a fun car, and I have no doubt that he would have Loved your Z4!!

  5. plevyadophy says:

    Hi Ming,,

    Lovely images, and very practical review.

    Just a query on the naming of the car. Isn’t that “M Sport” part of the nomenclature also a little superfluous?

    There was a time when “M” on a BMW meant just one thing: the car had been specially performance/road-legal racing tuned by BMW’s motorsport M Tech division. But now it seems, unfortunately, BMW are using the “M” as a marketing gimmick ( “M Sport”) to be attached to any car that just so happens to be a little faster than average ( a new habit that is witnessed on their 1 Series).

    I recall about four or five years ago hiring a BMW 3 Series where the documentation referred to the model of car as being an “M”. I raised an eyebrow, being surprised that a car hire company would have an M Tech in their fleet which was not charged out at a premium rate. Anyway, as I walked up to the car, having initially walked past it in search of my M Tech, I could tell that this was no real M. Being curious, I spent a while looking over the car to ascertain what it was about this car that made it warrant the “M” designation; I found nothing of significance. What I did find was a few fancy decals, some chrome/alloy decoration trinkets in the interior and such like.

    So I guess this kinda thing is similar to what goes on in the camera world. Although, to be fair to the camera makers, the motoring industry have been doing this sort of thing far more frequently.

    • Depends on how the car is specced. This one has different bodywork, a faster ratio steering rack and an adaptive adjustable suspension that isn’t available on the the standard car. I agree there’s been a lot of product dilution recently though with half-fat Mxxxi models etc…

  6. Number 6 inside the building with the light coming through, the straight lines of the structures and the deserted city backdrop is pure class. Superb shot.

  7. ISHRATH RAJAB says:

    Ming your review of a car and the magnificent photos are as exciting , and innovative as your camera reviews .Is there anything you cannot accomplish with such expertise . You could have another job if you get tired of photography and join the Top Gear team .
    Well done article as usual .Now comparing with the Audi TT ………………

  8. Leandro Gemetro says:

    Ming, complain about not getting enough money with photography again and I’ll slap you! 😀
    Amazing review and even more gorgeous pics.


  9. I drive a BMW 3-series and think it’s a great family/fun car, but for a roadster I’d prefer a Mazda MX-5/Miata over the BMW. More fun per dollar, at least in the US.

  10. Ron Scubadiver says:

    Too bad about the 4%, Ming. I just love BMW’s.

  11. As you know, here in the UK, Z4 has been somehow associated with wife cheaters 😀

  12. So for fun, if cameras were cars, how would you look at the E-M1, A7r and D800E?

    For me, the E-M1 is the Nissan GTR. It’s affordable and with fast AF and a multitude of features, taking photographs for a novice is as easy as navigating the Nuremberg Ring. The A7r is the Porsche 911 Turbo. More expensive with enormous horsepower, but the pendulum like rear end makes it much harder to control so you need more skill around the Ring. It is, however, a pretty understated supercar with few dials that you can use as a daily driver, much like the A7r would go relatively unnoticed. The D800E may be the Ferrari F458. It has stunning performance only if you know what you are doing, complex controls and is large, probably red and everyone looks at you with respect. The D800E is similarly expensive, complicated and needs a pro to know how to drive it properly.

    • The E-M1 is a Golf GTI, the D800E is a BMW M5, and I haven’t used the A7r so I can’t really say. The CFV-39 and Hasselblad V would be a Pagani…

  13. I’ve been living in Germany for a few years and here the top speed and acceleration matters when you drive on the highway. My car goes only up to 160km/h and I can’t keep up with BMWs and Audis in the left lane of the highway. In the right lane the cars go only 130, which I find too slow, so I’m left in the no-mans-land.

  14. “I look for excuses to drive it” – love the conclusion. Reminds me my Alfa several years ago. No need to drive anywhere, but You see it through the window and can’t wait till You’ll “have to” drive. And almost every Sunday morning looking at the map to find another twisting road to try.

    • I hear you!

      Though they say you’re not really a serious driver if you haven’t owned at least one Alfa…

      • I’ve done that. Lasted literally just a few months – swapped it last week actually. Nice to look at, but absolute and utter rubbish to operate. Like communism, its only good in idea. The renaultsport that took its place brings the same joy as the true drivers’ cars….

      • Agree! Although I would advise not to buy old Alfas after viewing them after nightfall (“well, this is going to need some tending” after viewing the ’66 Guilia Super in daylight….Actually, it was a very fun car.) My current daily driver is a 3 liter six 328. I agree with your sentiments, all summed up by saying it is very capable motorcar – extremely well integrated yet with sufficient character evident to keep one from thinking that it is a very highly spec’d Honda….. And as an aside, both the “3” and the Alfa would benefit nicely from a 20% bump in horsepower.

        A slightly different take on all wheel drive – being a resident of the upper midwest US, my first experience of winter driving with decent performance snow tires (Blizaks) coupled with all wheel drive and the BMW’s suspension turned out to be a revelation. Stunningly good. The biggest problem is that one needs to remember that one is driving on snow and ice and that the laws of physics still apply…..

        • Haha – perhaps good advice applicable to any car.

          As for the needing more power thing – I’m pretty sure we get used to it quickly. The Z4 has about 50% more power and comparable torque to the 320d it replaced, but oddly I think it could still use a bit more…

    • You remind me of the time I lived in Switzerland. On weekends, I took my Alfa 33 quadrafoliglio verde into the mountain passes and had a blast. I miss that.

  15. Hi Ming, good shots and angles. I noticed you shot at f/11. Weren’t you concerned with diffraction? Used a tripod?

  16. Michael Matthews says:

    Truly wonderful photography. Enjoy those mild mornings and pleasant evenings. Top-down is life-on. And goodbye to sufficiency. If that were the target, we’d all be driving an Austin Mini. The original, not the current ersatz Cooper.

  17. So interesting to hear of the feminine influence on the design. Could I get your (or anyones thought’s) on the legacy of Bangle design on BMW? The infamous trunk lid?

    Question: do you think there is such thing as feminine design in anything? what would masculine design be? I am not as interested in asking whether it (masc/femin) is a social construct or inherent (save that for university 101 course), but how it pertains to design and composition.

    Speaking of university, as an English Lit grad, it was always interesting to discuss when reading that the piece of writing had a “feminine voice”. It was also a not uncommon phenomena when reading an anonymous piece of writing to ascertain whether the writer was woman or man. Carrying over, do you think there is such a thing as feminine composition in photography?

    Or, could you look at “Migrant Mother” and see hints that it was photographed by a woman – Dorothea Lange (my hero) ? or to see the blurring of man and machine that Lewis Hine did and say “that is a masculine” composition?

    • Hi Ming, I remembered when those photos first went up on Flickr or was it Facebook? They’re great, and car companies themselves can hardly do better than what you did in your spare time. They do have that Ming lighting style that makes them uniquely yours. If not car companies, then perhaps magazines will commission some photos from you? Also, we need more interior shots. 🙂

      Are there driver education or high-speed driving education events near you? You guys do have that F1 track that’s handy for that. That would certainly be a way to really enjoy the car.

      To answer An’s question, the E89 design was done in a blind competition within BMW, and the two women designers (Julianne Blasi and Nadya Arnaut, exterior and interior, respectively) won out. It was said that the Z3 was considered too feminine, and the E85 Z4 too hard-edged, so this generation was trying to balance between the two.

      I think the BMW fan boys have overstated the errors of Bangle’s legacy. The guy oversaw the E46 and Z8 designs, two of the best recent designs BMW did, and the Bangle butt is now copied by almost every other luxo-barge model. The reason for the butt was functional: Bangle once said in an interview than humans grown 1-2cm every generation, so they needed to figure out how to make the car taller and bigger but still keeping the design within their internal specs. Perhaps it was not as well-resolved as it could have been, but it’s not the disaster than everyone makes it out to be either. Commercially, BMW has done very, very well in the Bangle era, and his influence on car design is everywhere today.

      As more regulation comes into play in the US and Europe, you’re going to see more design trying to figure out ways to make the cars retain their signature style while complying with the new regs. The high, flat fronts for pedestrian collision regs is just the latest example. The latest Mini is pretty fugly because of it, too, I think. Big fat C-pillars that make for big blind spots are another example due to rollover regulations. It’s always enlightening to sit in an old car (say a 2002) and experience it’s huge all-around visibiilty.

      • Thanks – I can only hope so too! That said, I did complete a recent shoot for Nissan…

        I think he did a pretty good job with the E90LCI and E60 too; the latter is aging surprisingly well.

    • I don’t mind Bangle’s ‘flame surfacing’, but I don’t like the odd trunk lid step. As for feminine design and composition – I don’t think it’s possible to really define anything tangible, though I suppose we may feel some things aren’t as hard edged as others, or the color palette choice is warmer/ less saturated/ more pastel?

  18. Sometimes a Z4 is only a Z4.
    Sometimes a Z4 is a compensation.
    Hope you will stay in the photo business, Ming 🙂

  19. Taildraggin says:

    It’s a wonderful car and a great design. The most beautiful Bangle era car.

  20. You are amazing. To think that the auto companies (and BMW at that) are providing you cars for review. I am looking forward to the Tesla review. I assume the review model is on a boat headed your way.

    • Actually…that’s my car. Neither BMW nor any other companies provide cars for review. Hell, I get few camera companies – let alone car companies…

  21. How many days are you able to use that car in KL? I dropped my s2000 after moving to Houston — very similar to KL in terms of a humid food-haven heavily-trafficked concrete jungle; driving with AC on and roof up just doesnt fit the behavior and capabilities of the car.

    Love the wide shot. Were the other ones in another part of the garage?

    • With the roof down? Perhaps a couple of times a week, every day if I travel in the morning or evening/ night. You can run the AC with the roof down, it’s actually both pleasant and quite necessary.

      No, they were all in the same unoccupied factory building.

  22. Great review Sir and what a very nice car you have indeed! Love these shots too. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Haha! Introducing a whole new class of goods featured on this blog that I cannot afford!

    • Actually, by the time you add lenses and lighting gear, a full MF digital system is several times more expensive. Especially if the car was bought used.

  24. I will be the envious and jealous critic,. I think leaving thd dust on thd tyres didnt help yhe pictures.
    Othef yhan that, whag a fabulous lookjnh ride and fabulously photographed.
    Im so gresn with ernvy, I cant even spell or yype properly anymore…

  25. Reading about “post-Bangle BMW” on Ming Thein’s blog… it’s like I woke up in a parallel universe! Great stuff. Takes me back to being 15 and reading Autocar every week 🙂

    • I need to do more car reviews. This one was a blast to write, actually. Perhaps it was very different from my normal stuff, and everybody knows we’re past the point of sufficiency with the motor vehicle. I was just enjoying watching my fingers fly over the keyboard…

      • Get onto the major car companies, see if you can get some loaners! (If you could do at least 100 episodes of Outstanding Images first, though, that’d be great.) Will we get to see the stuff you shot for Nissan any time soon?

  26. stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

    Ming, knowing your penchant for classic watches, why not write on BMW 507 then? A beauty in class with Jag E-type.

    • Oh, I’d have one of those or a 3.0 CSL in a heartbeat – except there are several enormous problems. Firstly, cost. Secondly, maintenance and parts. Thirdly, we drive on the left side of the road…and those cars are all left hand drive 🙂

  27. Simply some of your best writing and your best photos to date Ming. Thank you again. You are such a balanced thinker!

  28. Hey Ming Thein!
    Time to update this video then http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8xl3BNh0Ck


  29. Loved the review! You do auto reviews better than the automotive journalists! With that literary flair that only an artist could pull off, with such recognition of those subtle emotional cues that the driving experience brings. And the photos were stunning as well. Bravo.

  30. Klaus Manns says:

    An interesting and thorough view on this car. And you’re not so much OT, considering your interpretation of the design and aesthetics as well as you conclusion on the importance of the feel and fun of using gear beeing common among a fun/sports car (as opposed to a vehicle purely ment for transportation, e.g. a van) and a camera for creativity (as opposed to a digitizer purely ment for documentation, e.g. a scanner). On top, as almost always your view on things again is undergirded by excellent images.
    More “on topic” I started to analyze the lightening of those shots, where daylight was either over-powered or merely absent (I guess the latter, because of the power restrictions). The symmetric shot of the front suggests there are two bare Speedlights without modifier. In this particular shot they would have been positioned at 90 degrees on each side left and right and one flash stopped down for front fill, probably the popup on the camera. My guess on what appears to be a strip light from the top in this shot, might have been a window high up or fluorescent light at the ceiling, right? For the other shots the two Speedlights on stands had been repositioned, not more. Am I right?
    The whole setup looks to me like a very efficient and artistic use of minimum gear, considering the efforts beeing taken in studios for those commercial studio shots.

    • Thanks. You’re close on the lighting but not quite right – there was no daylight and I did have a long strip box with three speedlights in it up the back.

  31. Excellent photos, great review. The old Z4 coupe is one of my all time favorites, but I have to agree that this does let you enjoy best of both worlds. In the coldness of Finland a regular droptop is really a 3-5month per year usable, so these folding hardtops are really great.. Would love to own one someday, although mine would be blue 😉

    • Actually, 5 months is pretty good given how far north you are! For us it’s a few hours a day – morning/ evening and night, during the day you will bake…

      I originally considered midnight blue but in person it just didn’t show the lines of the car very well.

      • Taste in color of course varies, I have always loved all BMWs in blue shades, but indeed different models can require different colors to bring the best look out. Cannot argue with you color choice, loving it too. In Finland the lucky thing is we have lot of empty roads (albeit with police being quite strict on speeding but still, one can enjoy a lot of spirited driving in the spring-autumn period). Winter is another ballgame, think plenty of drifting and lot of snow.

        • I’m sure unheard somewhere that learning how to drift (presumably to avoid an accident and control your vehicle in likely encountered winter conditions) is par for the course before you can get your driving license in Finland…

          • There is a mandatory “slippery track” exercise before you can get a permanent license, but it focuses on bringing the car to a controlled stop rather than drifting around (not very surprising). Most 18-yo boys practice plenty in the empty parking lots, though.

  32. Nolan Haynes says:

    This is brilliant Ming. Your review is spot on as always and the fact that you shot the very pictures that are featured in it, is just icing on the cake. This is exactly how I look at cars. Glad to see that I’m not alone.

  33. harvey petersiel says:

    Beautiful images.BMW should give you any one of their cars you photograph!

  34. Oh, gee. I didn’t pick up on shutter speed, range of f stops. I’m not even sure whether it’s film or digital.

    (But I am sure that I can’t afford this car . . .)

  35. I’ll repeat what I said when you showed it to me before – lovely car but wasted in the traffic of KL! Would be great to drive top down through the Alps 🙂

    Oh and as I also said back then the shots are awesome, the lighting is just brilliant 🙂

    • wolfgang hulla says:

      send it over to me … I’ll have it run some decent lonely mountain roads … in the alps!
      … and get your cameras in race speed mode!!! 🙂

    • Ah, but it’s not so bad if you can choose when you’re on the road 🙂

    • Hey, I live in the alps, please send it to me :-). And of course I would invite you Ming to do a real world review here on our now snowy streets. That’ s the biggest fun by far. Then you will know why Audi has such a success with their 4wd cars 🙂
      But seriously, I like this Review really much!!


  1. […] there’d be a studio setup of the type I’ve done in the past with the Cayman R, M2 and Z4; but that’s as much me making use of the resources to hand as anything else. All I suggest […]

  2. […] could do double duty and have four seats (but not necessarily four doors). Some of you may recall I had a Z4 some time back. It turns out the limits of the car weren’t that high, no matter what one did to the […]

  3. […] object’ cars, like the BMW Z4 I used to […]

  4. […] pathetic air conditioning, the rattles and shakes, the weight of the steering at low speeds etc. My own car felt like piloting a feather mattress on the way home, and it’s not exactly what most people […]

  5. […] elegant lighting. This is only the second car I’ve shot properly – I don’t count my own – and of course I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Now, time for me to start […]

  6. […] – but on the other, I’m glad I won’t be frustrated in the traffic molasses. The Z4 I currently drive is just as fast as the 10-year old little hatchback in the next lane if nothing is moving. And that […]

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