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Thread: Great Expectations
12-24-2005 01:05 PM #1
From the December 2000 issue of Bimmer Magazine by Jackie Jouret
"Everything has its price, and the price of the Z8 is very high, indeed. At $128,000 list - a price which is only theoretical, since you'll have to pay substantially more than that if you actually want one - the Z8 is the priciest BMW ever. And the price of that is an extremely high set of expectations for the Z8's performance, style and exclusivity. This, after all, is a car that has been priced by BMW into the loftiest of heights, where it must share the rarified air that is also breathed by cars like the Porsche Turbo and the Ferrari 360 Modena.
It's been a long time since we drove the Z8 at the press intro in Los Angeles - six months, to be precise. In that time, we've also been fortunate enough to drive the cars against which the Z8 must compete. And although a direct comparison can't really be made without getting all the cars in question together for a scientific head-to-head comparo, the isolated experience of driving each of them is illuminating in its own way. And besides, when you're talking about cars this exquisite, to reduce the driving experience to a set of numbers is to miss out on its essence. These cars aren't just about 0-60 times and lateral grip; they're about transforming a drive into a journey, a metaphor for life.
...So can it compete with the latest from Porsche and Ferrari, as its spec sheet and price tag suggest? First of all, direct comparisons between these three cars will never be entirely possible; they're simply too different from one another in terms of their basic outline (front vs. mid vs. rear-engined, for instance).
For my money, the Z8 is more fun to drive than the latest Porsche Turbo, which is just a little too Germanic for its own good, and it's a far more distinctive-looking car, as well. Where the Ferrari is concerned, it's hard to get more visually striking than any of the cars from Maranello, but I have to say that I find it far easier to imagine myself in a long-term relationship with a Z8 than a 360 Modena or Spider. Driving a Modena all day is an exhausting proposition; driving a Z8 all day is a rejuvenating one. In that respect, it's more like Ferrari's quarter-million dollar stablemate, the 550 Maranello. Like the 550, the Z8 is a comfortable, biggish car that doesn't bludgeon the driver to death with its sporting abilities. It's fast, yes, but it isn't about top speed.
Driving the Z8 is sublime. It takes "retro" from design concept to driving reality - in a positive, life-affirming way. There's something about getting behind the wheel of this supremely civilized vehicle that seems capable of transporting you back to a more civilized time, one before monster traffic jams and road rage. It's hard to feel impatient in the Z8 no matter how fast you're going - it does so little wrong, and it's so comfortable and welcoming inside. It's a driving experience that you can't really put a price tag on, or define with a stopwatch. With all the best cars, it's about much more than that.
With the Z8, it's about combining supercar levels of performance with high style and efficiency. And unlike other exotics, it's a BMW, so it isn't going to blow up or need to visit the dealer every few months for upgrades of things the factory should have engineered properly from the start. It's a finished product, and a classic right out of the crate - one that you can enjoy every day for the rest of your life. And the more you drive it, the more you're going to enjoy it." Grease Monkey
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