BMW Z4 Vs Porsche Cayman Does It Matter

Published: 18th February 2010
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Among the compact sports autos, the BMW Z4, Porsche Cayman and Porsche Boxster stand out. But which is you? And why did BMW and Porsche wait so long before making the coupes? There's no Boxster coupe, but the Cayman is almost the same thing - but uprated.

It might appear strange the 2 German companies, well-known for high-performance and sporty vehicles, waited to announce their coupes at the same time. The answer lies in why they introduced the roadsters in the 1st place.

Porsche wanted a new, smaller model to increase its market coverage. Not everyone loves the 911, and not everybody would like a coupe. So it made sense to go for the mid-engine layout - the 911 is rear-engined - and the better balance that gives in designing the Boxster. At the same time, the addition of an open-top dragster would also increase sales. And both tricks worked.

But what about BMW? Well, BMW wished to build cars in the States, and did not want to build the same autos it built in Germany as that would increase costs. So it decided to build a roadster for the US market, even though it would be marketed somewhere else.

At that time there had been more potential volume for a boulevard cruiser kind of two-seater than an out-and-out sports car in the United States, so the BMW Z3 was born. It was a rather tall car for a sports automobile, and although a hardtop was offered, it looked peculiar, making the car look even taller than it was.

Z4 more sporty than Z3

The BMW Z3 did not really catch on in Europe, so the Z4 was designed as a more sporty vehicle than the Z3, and with its 3-liter engine which develops 265 bhp, is a good match in performance for the Porsche Boxster. Meanwhile, Porsche decided to fill out its range with an additional model, to be priced between the Boxster and the 911. In reality, the Cayman relies on the Boxster, but has more sporty suspension, and has a bigger engine. Now, though you can get a Cayman with a 2.7 litre engine as well as the 3.4 litre job. The Boxster gets 2.7 and 3.2 liters.

Because Porsche makes flat-six engines, it can easily produce engines of different capacities from 2.7 to 3.8 liters, and many parts are shared by all of them.

If you're looking for a sporty automobile, then you will desire to look at the Z4 3-liter, which produces 265 bhp, and reaches sixty miles per hour in 5.5 seconds, a time matched by the Boxster 3.2. The Cayman is a fraction quicker, getting to sixty miles per hour in 5.3 seconds. Mind, if you need maximum performance from these vehicles, you can get the BMW Z4 M, with over three hundred bhp on tap.

Choosing between Z4 and Cayman

But when it comes to the choice between the Z4 and Cayman coupes,you will be influenced by which one looks better. Although the Z4 looks miles better than the Z3 it does have a few quirky lines, which don't appeal to everyone, and the coupe is no better.

The Cayman has the sometimes slick Porsche lines, with a long tail and built-in spoiler which looks rather good. On the road performance is not much different, and both have super engines and gearboxes, but they don't do things in quite the same way. The Cayman is a fantastically balanced car that may be driven fast with confidence, but if you need to hang the tail out, the Z4 might be more to your liking.

Both are great sports autos, and will give you a lot of fun. What else should you consider? Nissan's 350Z is also quite a car, with a lusty V-6, the Mercedes-Benz 350 SLK 350 and new Audi TT are also worth taking a look at.

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