2009 BMW Z4

Rating: 6

Damage: $52,475
Power: 300hp, 300 lb.-ft.
0-60: 5.1 seconds
Gas Cash: 18 city, 25 highway
Miles driven: 450

There’s absolutely no practical reason to own a roadster. The two-seat, drop-top classification of automobile is reserved for those with ample disposable income, and little concern for day-to-day life. BMW knows that as well as anybody. But then again, the boys from Bavaria haven’t exactly built their reputation on churning out grocery-getters. All new for 2009, the Z4 is the brand’s latest ultimate driving machine and couldn’t give two snaps about what else you have to get done today.

The Z series, which first caught mainstream attention back in 007’s Golden Eye, has come a long way from a phallic shape that just looked fast. Despite its current absence from the big screen, the new Z4 is a delightfully refined overhaul, whose 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline six packs a punch much more Craig than Brosnan. Drop yourself down into the cockpit and enjoy the unique pushed back positioning that a true roadster offers. After you’ve adjusted to the more driver-centric feel, let the folding hard-top retract. It’s ok, this ain’t the Z3, whose awkward design had even average sized people’s lids flirting with the top of the windshield. Slam through the six-speed transmission, and the torque-filled engine that’s already proved itself in the X6 and 135 pulls hard at any speed, in any gear. And in case you’re not a clutch player, an available 7-speed auto is still an aggressive pairing that in sport-mode, will play chicken with you on upshifts.

Inside the cabin, the Z4 is what a car of its classification should be: cozy, but not cramped. Seats may feel a bit tight for non-svelte types, but the leather is supple enough that a little quality time should even everything out. A “plug-in” cupholder looks a bit awkward when in use, but chances are you won’t want to stop gripping the wheel until you’ve reached your destination anyway.

Yeah, so what if it’s a car that’s completely impractical—aren’t the best rides always the ones you ain’t really supposed to take? — WILLIE G.