Other than a slight upward nudge in its sticker price, nothing has changed for 2002 with BMWs most costly model. Most people have never even seen a BMW Z8, much less contemplated the purchase of one. At $130,645, which includes the destination charge, plus another $2,100 for a gas-guzzler tax, the Z8 isnt a sports car for everyone. During 2001, BMW sold 970 units of the high-end roadster in the United States, according to Automotive News.
The Z8 has been on sale since the summer of 2000. This high-end sports car first appeared in the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough and was driven by MI5 agent 007, as portrayed by actor Pierce Brosnan. Initially, some dealers were charging more than the sticker price for the first few models. The Z8 is largely hand-built in Munich, Germany, and is a luxury/performance companion to the more affordable Z3. The Z8 is the only BMW to sell for a six-figure price. It is said to be the most recent vehicle in a succession of what the automaker explains as limited-production automobiles that are quintessential expressions of the passion for driving that is the companys soul.
Styling harks back to BMWs legendary 507 roadster of the late 1950s. Like all other BMWs, the two-passenger Z8 comes with rear-wheel drive. BMW positions the Z8 in the same stratospheric league as the Aston Martin DB7 Vantage, Ferrari 360 Modena and Mercedes-Benz SL600.
A handmade, personalized owners book features photographs of the vehicle during production and samples of the actual paint and upholstery. Buyers are permitted to watch the final assembly steps and take delivery of their Z8 in Germany, if they wish. Owners also may choose to take delivery at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, S.C., where they can participate in a special Z8 Driving Experience program at no extra charge. While awaiting delivery, buyers are given a high-quality scale model of the car.
The automaker says that BMW designers were challenged to imagine what the original 507 would be like if it had never ceased production and had evolved over four decades. Classic sports car lines echo the appearance of the fabulous BMW roadster of 1956 1959, including the long-hood/short-deck profile, but theres nothing the least bit dated about the smooth, contemporary-looking, road-hugging Z8. Up front is a wider rendition of BMWs traditional twin kidney-shaped grilles. Chromed front-fender gills that suggest the 507 have integrated, fiber-optic turn-signal lights.
Aluminum is used throughout: for the front suspension components, nearly all of the cars body parts except for its bumpers and door hinges, and for its internal skeleton space-frame structure. Integrated xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, neon turn signals and brake lights are installed. A power-operated fabric top is standard, but a body-colored removable hardtop also is included. Run-flat tires ride 18-inch alloy wheels and have a tire-pressure warning system. The Z8 rides a 98.6-inch wheelbase, stretches 173.2 inches long overall and stands 51.9 inches high.
Two fortunate occupants fit inside the Z8 and are cocooned in Nappa leather upholstery. The driver pushes a button on the dashboard to start the engine. A portable hands-free cellular phone and a satellite-based navigation system are included. The Z8 comes with heated power bucket seats, cruise control, remote keyless entry, a Harman/Kardon cassette stereo with a six-CD changer, a theft-deterrent system, and power windows, door locks and mirrors. A powered wire-spoke steering wheel that telesclopes helps tailor the driving position to suit any occupant. The only Z8 options are dealer-installed. Cargo capacity is a modest 5.1 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
Borrowed from the high-performance M5 sedan, the Z8s 5.0-liter dual-overhead-cam V-8 engine produces 394 horsepower and 368 pounds-feet of torque. The power plant teams with a six-speed-manual transmission. An automatic transmission is not available. BMW claims the Z8 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and it has an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. A drive-by-wire electronic throttle system incorporates Normal and Sport settings. A limited-slip differential also is installed.
Safety equipment includes side-impact airbags, roll bars and all-disc antilock brakes. Front airbags deploy at one of two levels, depending on crash severity. BMWs Dynamic Stability Control system incorporates antilock brakes, traction control, cornering/avoidance-stability enhancement and other functions. The Z8 also comes equipped with BMWs Cornering Brake Control.