Tale of the unexpected

corned

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Ah, it all used to be so different before the war...
Stratstone's premises at 27 Pall Mall became a popular rendezvous for the growing list of wealthy and famous customers, particularly as a butler served champagne at a given time each morning.
It all went downhill after that, resulting in the loss of their royal warrant when the company changed hands in 1982. Their flagship showroom in Berkeley Street, where up until the early 1980s Lord Montagu could be seen every now and again collecting a new Daimler Double Six, is now a branch of Sainsbury's. You can still get champagne there, but somehow it's just not the same...
Blimey, that's still quite 'above and beyond'. Our local Sainsbury's doesn't greet you with a glass of champagne. Never has.
 

MOCAŠ

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Blimey, that's still quite 'above and beyond'. Our local Sainsbury's doesn't greet you with a glass of champagne. Never has.
You assume too much. I was merely referring to the fact that they sell it by the bottle...
 
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Dryce

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From my personal experience, I would agree with Beatnik's comments regarding the contrasting styles of the two cars.
Thanks to those who provided advice. Had a chance to compare (but not back to back).

The dark side roadster (E89) from the company that must not be mentioned is quite different from the R171 (and very very different from the R170).

Oddly it feels very light (almost like a Honda IMO but with way more feedback and more precision) - I expected it to be more 'weightier'. Very agile. Suspension isn't as bad as expected but is well to the firm end of the curve. sdrive2.3i engine is a 6 cyl and feels very pliable. Refined at low speeds and when cruising - almost too refined because tyre noise dominates unless it is working hard. 6 speed auto is slick. Same pressure point on kick down as MB but change down feels sharper. No gizmos apart from bluetooth - everything's an option - including cruise control even on the auto.

Our feeling is on balance that it looks nicer than the R171 (and also R172).

The R171 with the 200 kompressor isn't quite as refined or agile in terms of drivetrain - but is more refined on the road in terms of noise and road surface feedback. Feels heavier (it isn't - it's just the way they've set it up to feel).

If it was our only car the R171 would definitely be easier to live with (assuming sensible 16 or 17 in wheels and normal suspension). It's a not so uncompromising.

But as we already have the W211 slug the E89 feels as if it will complement (and contrast with) it rather well.

As regards costs. Purchase price is about the same as a R171 from a dealer for a used sub 18 month car with the R171 being better equipped as standard. Though most E89s on the market are manual. I've asked around and it looks like servicing costs are likely to be a bit lower for the E89. Tyre costs are likely to be quite a bit higher for the E89 because of the run flats.

I never bothered getting an insurance quote for the R171 - but the E89 is coming in at 10% more than the R170. I assume the R171 will be similar.

Anyway - not my decision at the end of the day (though it will still be my fault if there's any dissatisfaction).

SWMBO had similar comments on noise/feel and liked it. So current outcome is that she's defecting.
 

finisterre

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We dumped the run flats within a few days of purchase..

I bought a space saver wheel which we keep at home, we only carry it if a puncture will be very inconvenient. I think punctures are rare, I don't know about anybody else but it must be 20 years since I last had a flat tyre.

We also fitted goodyear eagle f1 asymmetric 2s which are quiet running. -AFAICT they are 8db below the EU noise limit which is particularly good. - As the car was pretty sticky we chose to prioritise comfort, noise and wet roads over dry cornering performance and the unlikely convenience of being able to drive home with a flat tyre.
 
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Charles Morgan

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Magnums are by far the best format for ageing Champagne. The perfect amount of airspace in the bottle to avoid reduction problems in larger formats and excess oxidation in the smaller ones.
 
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Dryce

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Followup to this saga.

Now had the Z4 for a month and SWMBO is delighted with it.

Having put a 500 miles on it on a weekend blast up to NE Scotland and back the term 'roadster' is entirely appropriate. Six speed auto is what I would call 'alert' in it's normal mode. Changes down seamlessly at a slight increase in accelerator pressure - bump to sport mode it and it's livelier. It really makes the manual override pretty superfluous - the flappy paddles are fun to try but don't really ease progress - whereas with the R170 using the tip mode was a gentler affair that provided greater benefits if you kept the revs up. The engine/transmission work so well together in sport mode that I doubt the flappy paddles will see any use.

The 2.5 litre 6 pot engine is way nicer than the 230 kompressor unit.

Brakes are good in that they perform. But the feel isn't so good. I'm probably contaminated by the W211 because I get on so well with the SBC - but expediting on As and Bs the W211 feels immense and that it can give more than you ask. The Z4 doesn't manage that even though it's still delivering what you ask. Difficult to explain.

Handling is exactly what it implies it will do. Feels way lighter than the R170 simply because it is so precise and agile. Suspension is very firm and we have the MSport version - but it's not as bad as expected given comments on the earlier Z4s. It feels more planted and controllable with the right foot in bends than the R170. It invites you to push it a bit more because it just seems to get better the harder it works.

Visibility and bonnet length make it a bit more tentative in dense urban traffic than the R170. Parking sensors are more useful.

Build quality. Hmmmmmmm. I don't think it's going to be as 'new' as our R170 or my W211 when it reaches their ages. There are more little buzzes and rattles - not bad for an 'ordinary' car but not comparison with the R170. No doubt this is exacerbated by the tyres and suspension setup. Finish feels slightly cruder than the R170 in terms of body and structure. I think the way to put this is that the R170 felt that it was made better than its list price. The E89 doesn't achieve that.

R170 came with a fabric wind deflector, electric seats, and cruise control. The R171s we were looking at came with airscarf. Cars lower down the status order come with auto headlights, auto dimming mirrors, and auto sense wipers. The Z4 isn't cheap and comes with none of that without a pile of extra money. The lack of electric seats is actually the biggest pain. The manual ratchet adjustment on the E89 is just particularly nasty and as it's just about the first thing I have to do getting into the car it grates with me every time.

Interior storage sucks too. What particularly grates is that they offer 'extra' storage as part of the add on options. Like 'extra' because AFAICT it's just a petty refusal to stick in some *basic* cubby holes and plastic flaps to access space that otherwise goes wasted unless you pay.

Designwise I think it's a classic - especially compared with the R171 and R172. I think the E89 suffers positively from an attempt to style it and compromise it a little as a result (boot space and visibility and fuel capacity). The designers were allowed to take a few liberties because it was a roadster.

It came with basic servicing included as the first owner had purchased the 5 year plan. Surprise surprise the servicing intervals look quite long. MB should wake up with regard to their variable vs fixed shenanigans of the last few years.

Minor detail: Owners' manual sucks. The manual for the R170 was just 'nicer'. Just about everything is asterisked and it's difficult to decode what applies. That goes back to it feeling rather than bettering its price.

Personally I wouldn't live with this as our only car. SWMBO would. I get irritated by road noise and vibration. However as second car (which it is to me as SWMBO uses it day to day) it's a hoot if you can choose when to use it.

And as a small added bonus it still makes me appreciate the W211 when I get back to it.:bannana:

Most importantly SWMBO is really happy with it. And that's all that really counted.
 
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gIzzE

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I'm sure it is a lovely car to have along side the W211, but like you I wouldn't want one as my main car.

If you were to fit proper tyres to it I think 90% of the little niggles would disappear, the ride would improve 10x and any little noises would also be gone, the runflats really are a spoiler still, the chassis's have got better over the 7 years they have been using them as have the tyres themseleves, but the difference between a BMW on runflats and the same car on real tyres is still quite amazing.
 

bolide

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If you were to fit proper tyres to it I think 90% of the little niggles would disappear, the ride would improve 10x and any little noises would also be gone, the runflats really are a spoiler still, the chassis's have got better over the 7 years they have been using them as have the tyres themseleves, but the difference between a BMW on runflats and the same car on real tyres is still quite amazing.
I'd second the above

If you buy a set of proper tyres you can stash the run-flats away for when you sell it

Nick Froome
the independent Mercedes Estate specialists
 
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Dryce

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If you were to fit proper tyres to it I think 90% of the little niggles would disappear
One advantage of the runflats - however - is that in principle if something happened SWMBO could get the car home without having to do anything other than drive (a lot) more slowly than usual

There will be a household discussion about this when the time comes to change the first pair.
 

gIzzE

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Can of tyreweld will do the same thing.

Also only change all 4 at one, DO NOT mix tyres front and rear on these, they become a twitchy mess.
 

bolide

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when the time comes to change the first pair.
The advantage of swopping them now is that you have the runflats ready to fit - and not worn out - when you come to sell

Also you get proper ride quality now and don't have to wait for it. If you do wait, then fit regular tyres, your first thought will be "Why didn't we do this earlier?"

Nick Froome
 
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gIzzE

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Plus you can put something like the Kumho KU31 tyres on there, they are superb on the BMWs and not a bad price at all.
All 4 will be less than a pair of rear run flats.
 

Fizzer

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I am concious that this is becoming a discussion on the alternative marque but I would be interested to hear if those that have ditched the run flats have had any problems with the run flat indicator. I have heard reports that the indicator light comes on if run flats are not fitted.
We have a 2004 3.0 Z4 which is mostly a summer toy. It has just past 30000 miles and is as new in every respect. It is a definite keeper and we have just had a garage built specifically to house it (not because I think it will ever be worth anything we just want it to last as long as it can). I love the, point and squirt go kart, way it goes and the straight 6 at full chat sounds fantastic.
The tyres are however pretty poor and I would change them tomorrow if the above reported problem proved to be just a fallacy.
 

gIzzE

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The run flat indicator will be fine, it works out sudden difference in rolling radius that you would get with a sudden loss of air, it has to be around 3 psi difference in a pretty short time.

The main thing though is get the tyres set right and then reset the indicator and go for a long drive, at least 10 miles, then it is fine.
 

finisterre

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No problem with the run flat indicator on ours, the normal tyres improved it enormously.
 
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Dryce

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As a follow up.

SWMBO traded the Z4 this week for ...... another E89 Z4 - a low mileage two year old 2.0i MSport with a bit more in the way of options. She waited to look at the new model before committing to getting one of the last of the old models. Z4 isn't my cup of tea though I do think the E89 variant is one of the neatest looking roadsters - and the new one isn't bad looking but like so many modern designs looks a bit overstyled and fussy. Lack of a metal roof was a major negative for the new one - and if SWMBO compromised on that then we were going to look at the Boxster more closely before committing to the new Z4.

My comments.
  • The Z4 was feeling its age despite less than 70000 miles. Replacement car is noticably tighter and rattle free. When we traded the SLK seven and a half years ago it was solid and rattle free despite having more miles. I think the basic car body/platform is sound but the low wide profile runflats and firm suspension mean the steering rack and suspension and wheels get utterly hammered on UK roads - even if the car isn't mistreated.
  • Simple depreciation calculation ends up in £166/month over 90 months.
  • 6 cylinder engine was sweeter than the 4 pot turbo on the new one. Offsetting that the new one has the sublime ZF 8 speed transmission as opposed to the older very competent ZF 6 speed.
  • While we had it the car required two new alloys and two alloys needed welding (cracks), three replacement rear light clusters (first replaced on warranty failed with same water ingress issue as the one it replaced), two rear springs, new battery, a (paid for) software update to deal with a parking brake failure, and rear discs replaced.
  • The service intervals are longer than a MB. Service costs lower.
  • The non-iDrive bluetooth phone setup was IMO not usable in practical terms except to answer calls or dial a single set number.
  • Owner's manual on the new car is the same sort of abomination as supplied with the one we traded. I don't think BMW actually read these things from te point of view of an actual owner.
  • New car has the same alloys as the first car. Rumours are that the wheels have been improved a bit. Offsetting the fact we have ended up with the same alloys again - I have three spare alloys sitting left over from the first Z4 as I got totally hacked off with the cracking problem and got a new set of non-BMW alloys half way through the period we owned it. I was going to trade them on Gumtree or Ebay but decided to keep them. I'm now quite glad I did.

I would add. This time round the SLC never entered the picture. Used market is full of diesels. Petrol variants were less common and more expensive. No way are we having two diesel cars in the household in case those who rule us decide to restrict their use or impose extra VED or extra fuel charges.
 

jdrrco

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I have three spare alloys sitting left over from the first Z4 as I got totally hacked off with the cracking problem and got a new set of non-BMW alloys half way through the period we owned it. I was going to trade them on Gumtree or Ebay but decided to keep them. I'm now quite glad I did...
OK, someone has to ask...

You have three spare alloys because you bought a new non-BMW set?

Is the Z4 a three-wheeler? I must have missed that bit in the reviews...
 

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