Looking through today’s BMW lineup, where everything has a million M badges to accompany the gazillion horsepower, I’ll be honest – little excites me. The M2 is pretty awesome, and a properly equipped 4-Series is a nice looker, but most I have trouble distinguishing from the Kia lineup. So it’s nice to head back in time a bit to something that’s both unique and understated at the same time. Of course, you’ll also want rear-drive only, and a singing naturally-aspirated inline-six.
Today’s Z4 has all of those things. In front is the N52 inline-six, here rated at 261 horsepower and 232 lb.ft of torque. For those counting, that’s a bit more horsepower and nearly the same torque as the S52 had only a few years earlier, and N52 has a lighter alloy block. They sound great, too. The E86 was rear-drive only, too. And rare? You better believe it. We’ve all grown accustom to the unique looks of the M Coupe and its resultant low production numbers. But the 3.0si barely sold better. Just over 2,100 were sold here in just two model years, a few hundred more than the M variant. You’re not likely to see them cruising down the road in your commute, in other words. And while the looks are polarizing, I think they’re rather pretty. The best part? They’re also pretty affordable.