*Originally Published 6/2008
Oh, S54 Engine, how we love thee.
Six sonorous cylinders of power send a raspy tone into the night, fed by six individual throttle bodies metering such a precise amount of precious air. Almost like poetry, it seems.
Any motor that produces over one hundred naturally-aspirated horsepower per liter of displacement is considered heroic. Muscular. Poetic. Such is the case with this particular motor, reserved for duty now only in the Z4 M coupe and roadster.
You may be familiar with this engine from when it saw duty in the 2001-2006 M3 coupe and cabriolet. Mated with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed SMG, it would rip the coupe to 60mph in 4.8 seconds; the cabriolet in 5.4.
Imagine, now, this engine in a shell hundreds of pounds lighter. Add to that an ultra-communicative rack-and-pinion steering setup, and a body that wraps around you and enlightens your every sense.
Hit the sport button alongside the manual transmission gearshift, and the edge of the world approaches at an even more rapid pace.
Never before has three hundred thirty horsepower felt so natural; so alive.
It isn’t just about the motor, though.
Like its siblings the Z4 3.0i and 3.0si, the M Roadster and Coupe can carve through the twisties with aplomb. The thick rim of the steering wheel feels fantastic flying through your hands. The red and blue stitching around the rim reminds you that this is no ordinary car.
The recipe for all of this greatness is simple. Slip into the generously-bolstered M Sport seat, turn the key and let 330 horsepower roar to life. Slip the shift lever into first gear, engage the clutch, nail the throttle and off you go. Once you are cruising on the highway, you will see fuel mileage in the mid-20’s. Fantastic, indeed for such a machine.
Don’t forget, of course, to lower the power-assisted top to open up the sky above; it only takes eight seconds.
Infused with fantastic incentives, as it is coming ever closer to the end of its model cycle (2010), the Z4 M Roadster and Coupe remain, now and forever, true performance bargains.
330 horsepower has never felt so good.