- Sweet roadster vibes
- Quick-opening power soft top
- Comfortable, composed ride
- Not a great sports car
- Frustrating smartphone connectivity
- Love-it-or-hate-it styling
BMW Z4 Expert Review
- The new-for-2020 M40i model joins the 30i model that made its debut for 2019
The Z4 is BMW's small roadster, combining unique design, premium appointments, and some fun-to-drive characteristics. It continues a lineage of BMW Z-cars, following the Z3 introduced in 1995 and two generations of Z4 beginning in 2002. With rear-wheel drive and turbocharged engine options, the current G29 generation is available only in soft-top roadster body style and controversially shares its platform with the Toyota Supra.
Just introduced for the 2019 model year, features and equipment carry over to 2020.
What's not to like about small sports cars that let you feel the breeze in your hair? Theoretically, not much but digging into the details reveals some flaws. Case in point: BMW Z4.
As a drop-top boulevard cruiser, the Z4 is pretty great. The top opens and closes quickly, and wind turbulence is minimal. Ride quality is comfortable and composed, and the seats are supportive, if in need of ventilation; top down on a hot day will lead to sweaty backs. And the Z4 is quite a thing to be seen in, even if its styling is the epitome of love-it-or-hate-it.
As a sports car, however, the Z4 falters. It's impressively grippy, but that stickiness takes away some excitement; it's hard to predict the car's limits. The standard four-cylinder engine in the Z4 30i model is torquey down low but doesn't like to rev, and it is saddled by too-tall gearing. Opting for the inline-six brings much more power, but that doesn't solve a chassis that's tricky to jibe with. Given its obscure limits, the tail can step out suddenly, and it's hard to feel consistent or connected when pushing the Z4.
Infotainment won't be a top Z4 selling point, but it must be mentioned that (at least in our experience) the car's Apple CarPlay integration might make you want to let the roof back and chuck your device out. It would invariably have trouble connecting to our iPhone or randomly lose the connection every time we drove. Also, it's annoying how you can use the armrest or cupholder but not both simultaneously.
Set your expectations correctly, and you may love the Z4. It'll satisfy your roadster cravings with a well-executed approach to open-top motoring. Just don't count on it to be a track star. If you're fine not pushing it too hard, there's much to enjoy. If you're looking for something sharper, try the 718 Boxster.
The 2020 Z4 may be one of the most scandalous vehicles of the last few years. Why? It shares its platform with the Toyota Supra. The brands from Germany and Japan each wanted to build a new sports car, but with sales in the segment steadily declining, it was tough to make a business case for one. Hence, the companies decided to team up and co-develop a platform that would underpin each of their iconic two-door drivers' cars.
The vehicles share nearly identical dimensions and many similar components. Open the hood of the Supra, and you'll find BMW roundels galore. However, tuning and calibration were handled separately by each brand separately, resulting in vehicles with distinct characteristics. Which one is better? We pitted them against each other to find out.
The Z4 sDrive 30i is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 engine connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission, driving the rear wheels. It makes 254 hp, and 294 lb-ft of torque. MotorTrend has tested the four-cylinder Z4's 0-60 mph acceleration at 5.2 seconds, and it stops from 60 mph in an impressive 99 feet. As tested by the EPA, fuel economy measures 24/32 mpg city/highway.
A turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 is bolted under the hood of the Z4 sDrive M40i. Again, while driving the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic, output rises to 382 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 mph acceleration drops to 3.9 seconds, but the heavier engine increases stopping distances slightly to 101 feet from 60 mph. Fuel economy measures 24/31 city/highway mpg.
Standard safety equipment is forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning. Adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitors, automatic high beams, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear automatic emergency braking are optional extras.
Whether the top is up or down, the Z4 has 9.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity in its trunk. A pass-through door between the seats allows longer items to fit inside.
Legroom measures 42.2 inches, and headroom 38.9 inches with the top—top down, sky's the limit.
All Z4 models feature a 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, which includes Apple CarPlay and GPS navigation. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is also standard. Two USB ports allow device connectivity and charging, and a 32 GB hard drive provides storage of music and other media. A 10-speaker sound system is standard, with a premium 12-speaker setup optional. Other available tech upgrades include a head-up display, wireless device charging, WiFi hotspot compatibility, and autonomous parallel parking.
2020 BMW Z4 sDrive 30i: The entry-level Z4 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4. It rolls on 18-inch alloy wheels, has aluminum exterior trim details, and a standard black cloth soft top. Inside, the power-adjustable sport seats are upholstered in leatherette, and the steering wheel is leather wrapped. Ambient lighting and gloss black trim decorate the cabin. Convenience features include a wind deflector, rain-sensing windshield wipers, auto-dimming rearview and driver side view mirrors, and automatic climate control.
2020 BMW Z4 M40i: More power is found in the Z4 M40i by way of its turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 engine. It also receives a sport differential, larger brakes, and stiffer suspension. The exterior is distinguished by an aerodynamic body kit, LED headlights and fog lights, wider 18-inch wheels with a gray finish, and dark trim details. The interior gains patterned aluminum trim and a heated steering wheel. Keyless entry makes access more convenient.