G20 Summit

Words and photos by Manny N. de los Reyes

THE LATEST iteration of the car that created the sports sedan segment has landed on Philippine shores. And making for an even bigger splash is its accompaniment by its sexy roadster sibling.

SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp., the country’s official BMW importer and distributor, unveiled last week the all-new 3 Series and Z4 Roadster.

First, Bavaria’s bread and butter: The sedan represents not only the core of the BMW 3 Series range (of which over 15 million units have now been sold worldwide) but also the very essence of the BMW brand.

This all-new 7th-generation (referred to as G20, internally and to diehard BMW fans) sees BMW building on the sporting heritage of the 3 Series, whose racing exploits have earned it so much credibility and acclaim. The new model is produced at BMW’s “home” plant in Munich.

BMW’s latest design language showcases the dynamic and cutting-edge character of the new 3 Series with precisely drawn lines and strikingly contoured surfaces. It is three inches longer than its predecessor, 16mm wider, and just 1mm taller. The car’s 41mm longer wheelbase (2,851 mm) and increased track widths (front: + 43 mm, rear: 21 mm), meanwhile, have a direct and positive influence on its riding comfort and handling.

The large BMW kidney grilles and the headlights leading off it are dominant themes of the front end of the car. Their familiar two-way split is emphasized by an eye-catching notch in the front apron that rises up into the headlight contour. Full-LED headlights come standard. Both the LED front fog lights and the Air Curtains are integrated into the outer air intakes.

The dynamic side view is shaped by a pair of character lines and a dynamic side skirt contour. The trailing edge of the side window with its signature Hofmeister dogleg kink is now integrated into the C-pillar. Horizontal lines and slim, stylishly darkened LED lights give the rear a wide and muscular stance.

The brand’s new styling also brings a clear arrangement of surfaces to the interior. The new screen grouping of Control Display and instrument cluster, the tall center console and the coordinated design of the modern instrument panel and door panel trim create a feeling of space and a sporting aura. The start/stop button for the engine is now positioned in the center console.

Upon its local launch, only one variant of the 3 Series will be available, the 330i. Other 3 Series variants will follow in the coming months. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder VALVETRONIC and Double-VANOS direct-injection twin-scroll-turbo engine in the 330i generates 258hp and 400Nm of torque, enough to propel the 330i from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.8 seconds and to a top speed of 250 km/h.

The M Sport suspension includes lift-related dampers, which is making its debut in a BMW model, and which the company claims makes a major contribution to the balance between sportiness and comfort — unmatched by any rival. Continuously variable control adjusts the dampers’ firmness progressively according to changing spring travel, which reduces body movement perceptibly when ironing out vibrations caused by bumpy road surfaces and dynamic cornering.

M Sport suspension (with a 10mm lower ride height) brings the benefits of variable sport steering, the latest version of which has even more direct and precise feel. M Sport brakes with four-piston fixed calipers at the front come as standard on the M Sport while blue-painted calipers display the M logo.

Extended shoulder and elbowroom in the front seats and additional legroom, seat comfort and ease of entry and exit all contribute to the generous feeling of space. The new 3 Series’ 480-liter trunk offers improved loading comfort. A 40:20:40 split-folding rear backrest and hands-free trunk lid operation are standard.

Standard Park Distance Control and the rear view camera assist the driver with maneuvering and entering/exiting parking spaces. Also available as standard is the Parking Assistant, which takes over steering, acceleration, braking and gear changes when driving into and out of a space. Its range of functions also includes the Reversing Assistant, which can reverse the vehicle for distances of up to 50 meters by steering it along exactly the same line it has just taken when moving forward.

The standard BMW Live Cockpit Plus includes a 5.7-inch instrument cluster and 8.8-inch Control Display. For intuitive operation, the driver can choose from the Control Display’s touch control, the iDrive Controller, the steering wheel buttons, and voice control.

The 330i M Sport variant has a retail price of P4,590,000.

And now, the classical roadster — reinterpreted and sportier than ever.

Roadsters have played an important role in BMW’s history and the all-new 2019 Z4 is set to write another chapter in the top-down story. Since the birth of the seminal BMW 328 of the 1930s, all BMW roadsters have shared common proportions — long hood, low, set-back driving position, long wheelbase, and short overhangs.

The new BMW Z4 is no different. It shares all of those traditional design principles, but takes the roadster experience to the next level with a virtually supercar-like focus on agility, dynamic performance and precise handling thanks to the high rigidity of the body structure and chassis mountings, the intelligent lightweight design, and the optimized aerodynamics.

The new Z4 is 85mm longer than its predecessor, 74mm wider, and 13mm taller. The untraditional shortening of the wheelbase by 26mm to 2,470mm serves to sharpen agility, as do the notably wider tracks (front by a huge 98mm; rear by a notable 57mm).

The new Z4 is built at the BMW Group’s Austrian manufacturing partner, Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik plant in Graz.

A powerfully sculpted front apron with large air intakes, low, broad BMW kidney grilles, and headlights positioned at the outer edges ensure there is no mistaking the car from the front. The new-look mesh-design BMW kidney grille combines a track-inspired honeycomb pattern with a three-dimensional structure, whose elements have a vertical arrangement reminiscent of traditional kidney grille bars.

The new Z4 is equipped with LED headlights as standard, while the optional Adaptive LED headlights add a matrix function for the non-dazzling high beam and cornering lights.

The long hood with arrow-shaped contour lines directed at the kidney grille straddles the wheel arches in the “clamshell” style characteristic of classic sports cars. The joins at the hood’s sides merge into the flanks’ upper character line, which runs back to the taillights. A second character line emerges from the large Air Breathers behind the front wheel arches. The spoiler and the slender, horizontally arranged taillights in the brand’s customary L-shape help to give the rear of the new Z4 a wide, sporty appearance.

The power soft-top comes in Black as standard and Anthracite with silver effect as an option. It can be opened or closed in ten seconds, even while traveling at up to 50 km/h.

The Sport model features design elements in High-gloss Black on the front crossbar and the rear apron’s insert, along with 18-inch light-alloy wheels.

The highlights of the M Sport model, meanwhile, include a three-section air intake for the front apron, prominent side skirt contouring, a rear apron with highly distinctive side surrounds and 18-inch M light-alloy wheels.

The new BMW Z4 M40i has a particularly sporty character with a Cerium Grey finish for the surround and front face of the mesh-design BMW kidney grille, the exterior mirror caps and other design features, plus trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes.

Both driver and passenger settle into model-specific sports seats. The Z4 is upholstered in Vernasca leather as standard on all models and comes in a choice of four colors (Black, Magma Red, Ivory White or Cognac).

The optional wind deflector fits flush between the fixed rollover bars. The storage space behind the seats, the cup holders under the center armrest and the large door pockets add further practical features. Amazingly, the 281-liter trunk capacity is the same whether the soft-top is open or closed — an increase of more than 50% compared to the previous model.

Powering the new Z4 will be a choice of BMW’s latest turbocharged petrol engines. The new Z4 M40i features a straight-6 engine with M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology for an output of 340hp and 500Nm of torque.

Variable sport steering comes as standard on all model variants, while the electronically controlled dampers, M Sport brakes and electronically controlled M Sport rear differential fitted as standard to the Z4 M40i make the car even nimbler on the road.

The new BMW Z4 M40i can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 250 km/h.

The entry-level Z4 is the sDrive20i, which has a 2.0-liter turbo engine developing 197hp and 320Nm for a 6.6-second sprint to 100 km/h and a 240 km/h top speed.

All new Z4 models come equipped with an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission. The transmission also features a Launch Control function for accelerating hard from a standing start with optimized traction. The eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission fitted in the BMW Z4 M40i has been configured with M specific shift characteristics very much in tune with the straight-six engine’s power delivery.

The aluminum-intensive suspension of the new BMW Z4 comprises a newly designed double-joint spring strut axle at the front and a five-link rear axle making its debut in a BMW roadster. This combination strikes just the right balance between sportiness and ride comfort.

The car’s impressively sporty handling characteristics are further aided by a powerful braking system and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), whose wealth of features includes ABS, Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) and Start-Off Assistant.

The Performance Control function also included as standard gives the new Z4 even nimbler handling by varying the distribution of drive torque to the rear wheels according to the situation at hand.

The Adaptive M Sport suspension, M Sport brakes and M Sport differential (all part of standard specification for the new BMW Z4 M40i, together with high-performance tires) elevate the car’s sporty handling abilities to even greater heights. With these chassis systems on board, the differences in the car’s responses when moving between the COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+ modes with the Driving Experience Control switch are particularly noticeable.

As well as lowering the car by 10mm, the Adaptive M Sport suspension also adds electronically controlled dampers, whose operating characteristics can assume a more comfortable or more dynamic bias depending on the mode selected with the Driving Experience Control switch.

The Z4 is fitted with a 10-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system complete with digital amplifier, 12 speakers and 464-watt total output.

The new Z4 comes with bespoke M Sport seats, which include electro-pneumatic backrest width adjustment to optimize lateral support through high-speed corners.

The practicality of the Z4 has been increased by features such as a storage space behind the seats with a retaining net, large cupholders under the center armrest cover and roomy door pockets.

The highly advanced nature of the new BMW Z4 is further underlined by the class-leading variety of driver assistance systems on offer. Collision Warning and the Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function come as standard, as does the Lane Departure Warning system.

The BMW Z4 sDrive20i retails for P3,990,000 while the BMW Z4 M40i tops out at P5,790,000.