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      05-25-2020, 01:11 AM   #1
Alaberti
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How my Nissan Juke taught me to love the ultimate driving machine

Introduction/Z4 M Gallery
Thank you for joining me on this journey of introspection and self-discovery; there's a lot to unpack here as we go on an almost decade-long adventure of growth from a Nissan Juke to Z4 M Roadster.
Photo gallery of the Z4 here if you just want to skip ahead a bit. Right, on with the show!

Who the hell buys a Nissan Juke??
Growing up, I used to HATE driving. I always saw it as a chore, especially as had easy access to either a bike or public transit everywhere I lived. Hell, I didn't even bother to get my license until I was 22. At one point, I moved out to live with a friend an hour from home, and visiting my parents required taking a bus the metro, the metro to train-yard, train-yard to a light rail, and a light rail to a bus. That was a 3 hour trip; I finished a lot of books. Most productive I've probably ever been. Now, at 31, it's one of my favorite passions, including my current job in cyber-security and my former job bouncing radio waves off the troposphere.

So how'd it all change? When I quit borders and college to start my first real career, which required a move to Valdosta, GA. There is very little in the way of transit there, which forced me to buy a car of my own. Up until this point, I didn't think much of cars, but I did find some really interesting. For example, I'm one of 7 people who love the Plymouth Prowler, I almost bought a Subaru Baja, but ultimately wound up in a base 2012 Nissan Juke in pearl white for $23K. 188 HP, 177 lb-ft of torque from a little inline-4, and the inadvertent cause of the turbocharged subcompact cuv category (sorry). Speaking of turbos, this was my first experience with one and having torque almost everywhere. Previously, I (occasionally) drove my mom's beige hand-me-down 2000 Ford Explorer Sport. I didn't yet know anything about torque curves or handling, I just knew accelerating was fun and that was good enough. Hell, still is.

Most of why I loved it is because it was so different from the average cars on the road. Coming from a truck, the "raised up" part felt more natural but wasn't the main draw - it was the small size. Okay, maybe not the trunk - that was ridiculously small, but never bothered me until I became a foster parent. Another thing that really drew me to the car was the simplicity - I had already grown up with Ford Taurus, Escorts, and Explorers; simple was what I was used to. Still prefer it in many parts of my life. The turbo was great when it (finally) spooled up, the surge of power felt really good. Even the CVT was fine, at first, though as I grew as a driver I found it less and less agreeable. When I finally learned how to drive a manual during a three-year residence in Germany...well...the writing was on the wall.

Quirks and features
After being forced to explain to anyone with a pulse why I both loved and drove the Juke for 6 years and 63K great miles, I started learning what kind of enthusiast I was. I found I really loved quirky coupes and hatchbacks, as well as low volume, quick and small cars with polarizing (distinct? unique?) personalities. Character is probably the better word. Which is how, on July 4th, 2018, I traded in the Juke for a $26K chalk white 6-speed 2019 Veloster Turbo Ultimate. Even got $9K for it. This new, second-generation Veloster had 201 HP, 195 lb-ft of torque at 1490 rpm which was was a very noticeable improvement. That little 3 door lukewarm coupe-hatch thing was even more fun - I found the 3-door configuration was really easy to get used to and as much as people say their OCD would trigger, half the time you forget there's a door until you need to get someone in. It IS a struggle for car seats...but the kids I fostered ranged from 10 to 17 and older and it was great for them. The Veloster somehow ran on regular unleaded instead of "premium recommended." Wizardry.

Ultimately, I found the car's lacking on-center steering feel and its obnoxious rev hang had soured the experience too much. I hadn't learned much about tuning or modding yet or I might have stuck it out; I really loved the chassis though, it just needed a little more tightening up. I mean, not that much more, it came standard with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires which are an incredible upgrade from whatever tires the Juke had; I'd never been bothered to look.

A need for speed
Then the 2019 Veloster N came out. I found one that had just arrived at a dealership near me, and on a cold, January morning basically as it was coming off the truck I was already pocketing the keys to an ultra black Veloster N with the performance package at MSRP, just under $30K. 275 HP, 264 lb-ft torque, adjustable suspension, eLSD, 19" Pirelli P Zeros, it's a top-rate hot hatch. It's the most fun I've ever had in a front wheel drive car, and by this point I've driven the Fiesta and Focus STs, the Type R, the Mini JCW - while some are a objectively faster or more nimble, none were as outright fun as this second-gen Veloster.

And I don't just mean it's fun because the exhaust sounds like gunfire when you shift at 4K+ rpm (which is a cause for concern around public areas for some reason?) but it's how precise and talkative the steering is, and especially how trick the front diff is; you can attack a corner at nearly any angle and almost any speed and it just sorts it out. Hell, you can liftoff oversteer and slide this car around without even needing to touch the handbrake. This is a Hyundai?? This is when I found out that Hyundai had poached former M vice-president Albert Biermann, and it all made sense. Now I needed to know a bit more about BMW M because, well, I know the letter N certainly comes after M but if this is what he's capable of in an economy car, just what came before?

All coming together
This is when I learned about the Z4 M. Actually, it was Rated M Roadster's Z4 M specifically that had put it all together for me. I saw his in a Bimmer-Mag article, #115, and that's when I learned two things: I should stop driving on bald tires, and I needed a Z4 M. Even after a lot of research I struggled on whether I could really live with a roadster, or if the coupe would just replace the Veloster, but ultimately location and opportunity presented the perfect opportunity when I found a roadster just a couple hours from me.

I bought my 2007 black sapphire metallic Z4 M roadster in September 2019 as a second car to the Veloster N. It was a three-owner car driven by older gents to whom it was a third car to putt around town with - I don't think a single owner ever saw redline. I paid $17.5K with 54,832K miles on the dash, which the bank asked if there was something wrong, saying it was worth about $22K. Only problems so far have been a broken water pump, burned out ignition coil, and leaky seals. Tedious, but repetitively inexpensive parts to fix. Since purchasing it, I have put about 7K on it, some spent on 300-400 mile roadtrips, most on backroads or the occasional errand.

I really shouldn't have been worried about living with a drop-top, it's such a pleasure to drive - and I make sure it gets regular workouts. The car gets dirty, has a small collection of rock chips and scratches, and I love it all the more for it. I clean it 2-3 times a month, treated it to a full detail once already, probably keep that going annually, but otherwise we go in search of the next stretch of road to ring out the engine. Which, after owning so many turbocharged cars, I gotta say this naturally aspirated thing is a, pardon, breath of fresh air. It's nice to work for something...though I wouldn't mind a liiiiitle more low-end grunt. Nothing wrong be being a little greedy right? Each car has a distinct personality and place in the garage...there are definitely days I'm holding each key wondering what kind of fun I want to have. #firstworldproblems

The Z4M Build
First thing's first: the ever-growing Z4 M gallery (current as of 25 May 2020): https://photos.app.goo.gl/1nqH273c7XsuL7pS6. You might have seen this at the top, it's the same one. Thanks for not skipping ahead!

I started by driving the car for a few months before I ever even started planning my modlist. I wanted to really make sure I firmly understood my cars' perceived strengths and weaknesses. My build goals revolve around the usual "OEM+" style, but I'm not looking to chase the family lineage to get there. As this car is a canyon/backroads carver first and foremost, I've been looking for the best value/performance/longevity for street; I don't want to overbuild the car. I've been starting with the cosmetics and touch points and slowly working up to the performance bits:

What I've done so far:
- Swapped in Michelin PS4 tires for the stock wheels
- Black Grilles
- Stubby Antenna
- Z4 M floormats
- ZHP Knob
- UUC Evo3 Short Shift Kit
- OEM Carbon Leather Trim (thanks RobMCoupe!)
- Apex Arc-8 Wheels 18x9.5 255/35, 18x10 275/35 (thanks Rated M Roadster!)
- Morimoto D2S XB35 6000K Lumen HIDs (currently in 3000K kelvin; not the look I thought it would be, swapping soon)
- ProFlex Commander E85 Flex Fuel Kit
- Racenseng Contour Knob (does NOT fit UUC without some...light modification)

What's Next:
- Raceseng Sphereology Knob
- VAC Rod Bearings
- Vibra Technics Engine Mounts
- Rogue Engineering Transmission Mounts
- Autosolutions Short Shift Kit
- Turner Monoball FCABs and RTABs
- Stromung or Meisterschaft Exhaust
- Recaro Pole Position Seats
- Bilstein B16 PSS10 Coilovers
- Evolve Carbon Fiber Airbox
- 4.10 Differential
- Custom Full-Leather Interior
- Euro headers (someday)
- Aero Side Skirts (left one someday)

Notes:
- UUC Evo3 SSK: I think anyone who's read this forum knows about this kit so I'll skip the preliminaries. The OEM shifter is already pretty short, but way too much play for my taste. I saw UUC had a huge following so gave it a try. 3rd especially slots in like a rifle bolt, but it ate my ZHP and my OEM knobs, didn't fit centered, and after several phone calls to UUC on various matters/questions, I found their customer service was a bit behind the quality of their really well machined kit. Just to be clear - no one badmouthed me or was unprofessional, there were no dramatics, I just didn't get the level of technical detail I was hoping for. The last concern I had involved how their marketing is arranged with the SSK that made me a bit uncomfortable.

- VAC Rod Bearings: There is a lot of back and forth I've read on rod bearings, and maybe this is the general consensus but what makes sense to me is a small bearing clearance + thick oil = bearing oil starvation during warm-up. So, short of handing my engine off to Lang Racing for a rebuild, I decided mid-summer I'll be swapping these in. I chatted with VAC and once we got into the measurements I felt a lot better. I'm told that they're coated and a bit thinner, granting close to a .001" gain in clearance - this seems to fit my understanding that more clearance == less bearing damage. Anecdotal evidence over in the S65 community also suggests these bearings are a solid buy; I'm assuming the theory holds up with the S54. I'll see soon enough for myself; any experience is welcome.

- Raceseng knobs: The touch points matter. I actually like the ZHP, but the UUC shifter broke the plastic clip inside so it spins as I'm shifting. Not a great look. Found Raceseng and after looking over some of their products - I'm a huge CNC nerd - I bite and bought a custom Sphereology knob and an off-the-shelf Contour for while I wait the 6-8 covid-inspired weeks. They use a custom adapter that is perfectly machined to fit on an OE BMW shifter, something like 13.93mm diameter, but the UUC kit is around 14.03mm around which meant I needed to dremel it out to fit. Once I'd gotten it worked out though, it's a real winner. Great weight without being overbearing and shifts just slot right in. Definitely a quality product. Just check with them if you have an SSK, something I didn't think I would need to do.

- Autosolutions SSK: I plan to swap the Evo 3 SSK out for the Autosolutions SSK kit late summer/early fall, possibly sooner. Around the time I refresh the engine and motor mounts. While I've heard a lot of conflicting info in the Z4 community on this kit, the F80 folks rave over these and after some emails with Ronald at a very technical level I'm pretty well sold on giving it a try. A big help was the offer to ship me a selector knob in order to verify fitment of my Raceseng knobs.

- ProFlex Commander Flex Fuel Kit: This was mostly a value buy. 1.) it was about $150 off, 2.) I live in the Midwest, it's cheaper than water in some places, 3.) I'm moving to California and it's cheaper than premium. There are some perceived power gains at the top end, maybe 15-20HP, but that's an added bonus. I don't have any dyno charts, that's money I can put towards mods/fuel, but I definitely run out of 1st gear almost a whole second faster on a full send. Is it worth it? For me, yes, because premium is $2.10/gal at the lowest and I have found E85 for $1.69/gal. A state over I've heard it's as low as $0.95/gal. My MPG did drop from 18.8 to 16.9, so there is a noticeable range penalty, but the value of the kit goes up with the price of gas. And I can still run 91+ as normal, no tune is required. I can run E85 and 91+ in the same tank. This is a no-brainer for me, but I'm not going to say it makes sense for everyone.

Right, that's how my Nissan Juke taught me to love driving. Thanks for coming to my TED talk?
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Last edited by Alaberti; 05-25-2020 at 01:45 AM..
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      05-25-2020, 07:35 AM   #2
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I never got the Juke and not sure I do now either but we all have to start somewhere and you have clearly refined your choices. I saw a Juke just the other day and it was Purple with Yellow trim everywhere.....they do get looks but Im not sure they get a lot of love.
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      05-25-2020, 10:24 AM   #3
Alaberti
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Murf993 View Post
I never got the Juke and not sure I do now either but we all have to start somewhere and you have clearly refined your choices. I saw a Juke just the other day and it was Purple with Yellow trim everywhere.....they do get looks but Im not sure they get a lot of love.
Yeah, I get that, and trust me, nothing I've said is aimed at convincing anyone otherwise, just providing understanding. For me, the charm comes from how outlandish and non-conformist the style is. I mean, the blinkers being on the top get confused for the headlights all the time haha. Inside though, it's a perfectly sensible cabin and completely easy car to live with. Drives like any other car, though I regret not getting the manual or even the NISMO edition. I figure, if I was going all in, I should have gone all in.

Is it a beautiful car? Nope! It's just different. And that's okay for me because without it, I probably would have bought a truck and never found my Z4 or any kind of real driving passion.

Thanks for reading!
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      05-25-2020, 01:52 PM   #4
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Top gear named the Nissan Juke the ugliest car in the world, for three years straight.

It was only actually nominated in the category the first year.
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      05-25-2020, 01:56 PM   #5
Alaberti
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddBlack88 View Post
Top gear named the Nissan Juke the ugliest car in the world, for three years straight.

It was only actually nominated in the category the first year.
Never once said it was beautiful, was just posting my journey into car enthusiasm and eventual Z4 ownership.
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      05-25-2020, 07:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaberti View Post
Never once said it was beautiful, was just posting my journey into car enthusiasm and eventual Z4 ownership.
Lol

No worries, I was just having a laugh.

I used to own a chevette otherwise known as the shitvette, so .......pot meet kettle.
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      05-25-2020, 11:41 PM   #7
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Awesome write up, i enjoyed reading that, from your humble beginnings to where you are now. I gotta admit, i was a little throws when you said (wrote) foster parent at 31, my hat off to you sir, being a parent is one of the most difficult/most rewarding jobs out there.

I cant wait to see what you get up to next, its also nice to see someone who doesnt mind to get into things with thier own 2 hands and leartn something along the way. very cool.

congrats on a beaut lil roadster, and welcome to the fray

V.
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      05-26-2020, 12:15 AM   #8
Alaberti
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanne View Post
Awesome write up, i enjoyed reading that, from your humble beginnings to where you are now. I gotta admit, i was a little throws when you said (wrote) foster parent at 31, my hat off to you sir, being a parent is one of the most difficult/most rewarding jobs out there.

I cant wait to see what you get up to next, its also nice to see someone who doesnt mind to get into things with thier own 2 hands and leartn something along the way. very cool.

congrats on a beaut lil roadster, and welcome to the fray

V.
Thank you for the kind words! Fostering kids had been a real joy, and a challenge! I didn't do a great job of timelining but I actually started fostering at 28. I've never phoned my parents so many times in a week as when I first started hahaha.

As for wrenching, ten years ago I couldn't tell a wrench from a drill! I'm glad I've forced myself to put these things together; it's like (expensive) Legos. Now I watch build videos and garage walk-throughs with an eye on my wallet. Is this adulting?

Glad to be a part of the community, and I'm definitely learning from you veterans as I go!
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