On sale since the summer of 2000, BMWs newest and most costly model first appeared in the James Bond movie, The World Is Not Enough, driven by Pierce Brosnan as he portrayed the brilliant British intelligence agent. Largely hand-built in Munich, Germany, the Z8 is a luxury/performance companion to the more affordable Z3 and is the only BMW to sell for a six-figure price.
Styling harks back to BMWs legendary 507 roadster of the late 1950s. Like all other BMWs, the two-passenger Z8 has rear-wheel drive. Only about 400 cars per year are destined for the U.S. market. BMW positions the Z8 in the same stratospheric league as the Aston Martin DB7, Ferrari 360 Modena and Mercedes-Benz SL600. Some dealers have been selling the few Z8 models on the market for significantly more than the $128,570 sticker price which amounts to four times the cost of a Z3. No significant changes have been announced for 2001.
Purchasers can take delivery of their Z8 in Germany, watching the final assembly steps if they wish. A handmade, personalized owners book features photographs of the vehicle during production, as well as actual paint and upholstery samples. As an alternative, buyers can take delivery at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, S.C., taking advantage of a special Z8 driving program at no extra charge. While awaiting delivery, buyers are given a high-quality scale model of the car. BMW sold 317 of its new high-end convertibles in 2000.
Classic sports car lines echo the appearance of the old BMW 507, including a long-hood/short-deck profile, but theres nothing dated about the smooth, contemporary-looking, road-hugging Z8. Up front is a wider rendition of BMWs traditional kidney-shaped twin grilles. Chromed front-fender gills that hark back to the 507 have integrated side marker lights.
Aluminum is used for front suspension components, nearly all of the cars body parts and its internal skeleton space-frame structure. Integrated xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights are installed, along with neon turn signals and brake lights. A power-operated fabric top is standard, but a removable hardtop also is included. Run-flat tires ride 18-inch alloy wheels and have a tire-pressure warning system.
Only two occupants fit inside the Z8, cocooned in Nappa leather upholstery. To start the engine, the driver pushes a dashboard button. A portable hands-free cellular phone is included, and the Z8 also comes standard with a navigation system, heated power bucket seats, cruise control, limited-slip differential, remote keyless entry, a Harman Kardon cassette stereo with six-CD changer, a theft-deterrent system, and power windows, locks and mirrors. A power telescoping wire-spoke steering wheel helps tailor the driving position to suit any occupant. The only Z8 options are dealer-installed.
Under the Hood
Borrowed from the M5 high-performance sedan, only one powertrain is available: a 5.0-liter dual overhead cam V-8 engine, rated at 394 horsepower and teamed with a six-speed-manual transmission. An automatic transmission is not available. BMW claims that the Z8 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, with a top speed electronically limited to 155 mph.
Safety equipment includes dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags, roll bars and all-disc antilock brakes. Front airbags deploy at one of two levels, depending on crash severity. The Z8 also is equipped with BMWs Cornering Brake Control and Dynamic Stability Control, an electronic stability system.