Sun, 20 Jul 2003

BMW ups the ante with new vehicle

Novan Iman Santosa, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

PT BMW Indonesia seems to be in very aggressive mode right now, releasing three products in less than three months, all aimed at a very limited market segment.

The company launched the BMW 330i in May, claimed to be the most powerful model in the 3 Series.

A second model was introduced in mid-June with the company's flagship BMW 760 Li, a "masterpiece" in PR jargon. And earlier this month it unfurled the BMW Z4 Roadster, the second roadster released here after the BMW Z3 in December 1999.

A roadster is defined by its long engine hood, short overhangs at both ends, low seating position and a flexible soft-top to offer the pleasure of open-air driving.

The car enters the market boosted by its prize-winning power unit, the in-line 6-cylinder engine. Displacing 2,979 cc, the engine produces 231 horsepower (hp) of power at 5,900 rotation per minute (rpm), with a maximum torque of 300 Newton meter at 3,500 rpm.

The engine provides acceleration from full stop to a speed of 100 kilometers per hour (kph) in 6.2 seconds with a maximum speed of 244 kph.

The powerful engine can get earlier kicks using the Dynamic Driving Control (DDC) button, giving maximum power earlier than usual when using the Sports mode.

Tagged at Rp 904 million (US$110,000), the BMW Z4 design is a balance between power and finesse, projects chiseled form and pleasing style, and achieves all of the functional elements that are required for a world-class roadster.

It has two waistlines. The lower waistline extends from the engine compartment lid across the door and the upper waistline, by contrast, extends in a powerful arch from the beginning of the compartment lid all the way to the rear.

The unique BMW emblem is integrated with the side indicator on the car's flanks behind the front wheel arches.

An interesting feature is that the Roadster rides on standard run-flat tires, allowing the driver to safely reach a service station without changing the tire after a puncture.

The car can go at a speed of 80 kph over a distance of 150 kilometers with damaged and completely airless tires. The car uses 17-inch light alloy wheels with 225/45 R17 tires.

This is also the first BMW to have electric instead of hydraulic power steering system, giving a higher standard of flexibility.

Such a powerful car needs extreme safety precaution as well. The company said the BMW Z4 exceeds the crash safety level required by the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) in both the U.S. and Europe.

Equipped with four airbags, the front ones have technology to allow dual-level airbag activation according to the level of impact.

Whatever its attributes, or lack thereof, those who love the status that comes with driving a BMW will be sure to come looking.