Reviewing the BMW Z4: Performance, Design, and Features

The BMW Z4 embodies Steve Jobs’ philosophy of excelling in one area rather than trying to cater to all tastes. The first-generation Z4 was a success as a driver-focused sports car, but the second generation’s heavier metal hardtop compromised its handling. The third-generation model returns to its roots with a lighter fabric hood and redesigned suspension, enhancing driver enjoyment. Its top-spec M40i model, equipped with a 335bhp 3.0-litre engine and adaptive suspension, is the standout. The Z4 boasts a luxurious interior, intuitive infotainment, and decent practicality with a spacious boot. It’s quieter and more comfortable than rivals but falls short in sharpness and handling.

Discovering the BMW Z4: A Deep Dive into Elegance and Performance


"Don’t try to do everything. Do one thing well." So said Steve Jobs, the late head of Apple – and like this BMW Z4 sports car shows, he had a point. But why does this saying resonate so well with the Z4? Well, to understand, let’s backtrack a little into its history.

A Look at the Evolution

The initial generation of the Z4 was an agile, focused sports convertible—a true driver’s delight. However, BMW attempted to broaden its appeal with the second generation, and in doing so, dulled some of its magic. The culprit? A folding metal hardtop that, while great at keeping out the elements, also added unwelcome weight, deteriorating the car’s handling.

The third generation, fortunately, rediscovers what made the original so special, placing a renewed emphasis on driver engagement.

Performance and Drive

When you peek under the long bonnet of the entry-level BMW Z4, the sDrive20i, you’ll find a robust 194bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine. This engine promises to accelerate from 0-62mph in a mere 6.6 seconds, slightly quicker than the Audi TT Roadster 40 TFSI but a bit behind the entry-level Porsche 718 Boxster.

Real-World Driving Experience

Unfortunately, the Z4’s entry-level engine doesn’t quite shine as brightly as these figures suggest. The engine lacks the energetic response of the TT’s 2.0-litre petrol engine and emits a monotonous drone. Furthermore, its eight-speed automatic gearbox feels sluggish, particularly when compared to the more engaging manual options available in the TT or the Toyota GR Supra.

However, things brighten up with the M40i model. Powered by a 335bhp 3.0-litre straight-six engine, it delivers an exhilarating driving experience. The M40i dawns with almost no turbo lag and a gorgeous, smooth revving rhythm that makes it a joy to drive through twisty roads.

In both variations, the Z4 is far from sharp in corners. The sDrive20i’s standard suspension leans towards highway comfort, which allows more body lean compared to the Boxster or TT. Meanwhile, the optional M adaptive suspension improves the driving dynamics, especially in the firmer Sport mode.


While the driving experience might not be as compelling as some rivals, the Z4’s interior truly elevates its class. The dashboard is designed to be driver-focused, presenting a purposeful, low-slung seat to cocoon the driver comfortably. Notably, the M40i and sDrive20i come with optional power seats and lumbar support adjustments, ensuring a cozy driving position.

Technology Integration

BMW’s iDrive system is a highlight, thanks to its responsiveness and intuitive interface. The rotary controller on the center console ensures minimal distractions, and the 10.3-inch touchscreen supports features like satellite navigation, Bluetooth, DAB radio, and smartphone mirroring via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Space and Practicality

For those with long legs, the Z4 provides more legroom than the TT and Boxster. The interior width also ensures you won’t constantly shoulder your passenger. The storage is impressive too, with a spacious boot capacity of 281 liters — enough to fit five carry-on suitcases.

Stowage Options

  • Door pockets: Spacious enough for daily items.
  • Covered cubby in front: Ideal for wireless phone charging.
  • Center armrest: Features integrated cup holders, though one has to keep it open during use.
  • Boot: Generously sized, perfect for weekend trips.

Buying and Owning

From a cost perspective, the entry-level 20i sits comfortably between the Audi TT Roadster and TTS Roadster, while the M40i is competitively priced against the TT RS and Porsche 718 Boxster T.

Value and Reliability

The Z4 also holds its value reasonably well, though not as robustly as the Boxster. Servicing and insurance costs are on par with its competitors. In terms of emissions and fuel consumption, the Z4 20i is commendable for its segment.

Safety Equipment

The Z4 achieved a five-star rating from Euro NCAP in 2019. It’s loaded with safety features like:

  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
  • Lane Departure Warning System
  • Optional Driving Assistant Package: Adds rear-cross traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition, and adaptive cruise control.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is the BMW Z4 a reliable car?
    We don’t have specific data for the latest Z4, but BMW ranked 16th out of 32 brands in the 2022 What Car? Reliability survey.
  • How fast is the BMW Z4?
    The sDrive20i clocks from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds, while the M40i accelerates in an impressive 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph.
  • Which BMW Z4 model is best?
    The M40i is the standout with its superior engine, aesthetics, and driving engagement.
  • What’s the difference between the Z4 M Sport and Z4 M40i?
    Engine configuration is the primary difference. Both are well-equipped with M Sport features.
  • How’s the BMW Z4’s infotainment system?
    Excellent. A blend of a 10.3-inch touchscreen with iDrive’s intuitive controls and robust connectivity features.
  • Boot capacity?
    The Z4 boasts a 281-liter boot, retaining its volume even with the roof down.


The BMW Z4 merges elegance with performance, ensuring it stands out in the realm of sports convertibles. While it may not outshine its rivals in every aspect, its luxurious interior, practical space, and impressive technology make it a compelling choice for enthusiasts.

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