Independent review by Peter Hayward from Driving Force
- Built to a high standard
- Great fun to drive
- Boot space is limited with the roof down
- More expensive than some rivals
- Sporty models sacrifice comfort
What's the BMW Z4 like?
The second-generation BMW Z4 was built from 2009 to 2017 – a long period for any of the German company’s models.
But it’s still an excellent sportscar in every way and the folding metal roof means that it’s refined and quiet at speed compared to most soft tops, making it very easy to live with every day – and making it more secure.
However, always remember that with all coupé/convertibles like this, the folding roof takes up a lot of the boot, meaning if you want to take a holiday with the top down, pack small and light.
The cabin is a marvellous cocoon even on cold days, which means the roof can be down all year round when the sun is out – or even when it’s not.
The heater is excellent and all you need on a cold day is coat, hat, scarf and gloves to be completely comfortable.
The Z4 is great to drive, with sharp handling and a good ride along with the exhilarating performance you would expect.
But all the engines are not available with all the trims. Those engines are 2.0-litre turbos with either 153 or 181bhp, or 2.5-litre and 3.0-litre engines with 254 to 335bhp. But unlike competitor Mercedes-Benz' similar models, there are no diesels.
All are smooth and powerful in the BMW tradition, but if you can run to the 23i, 30i and 35i 6-cylinder models, you have superb performance and a glorious sound, even if the economy is down to the low 30mpgs.
However, even the least powerful 4-cylinder 18i will reach 60mph from rest in 7.6 seconds – which is not to be sneezed at - and it can still manage 41mpg with a gentle foot on the accelerator.
The power steering is direct and responsive – BMW’s have long been superb in this department – and it feeds information to any discerning driver.
The road-holding is marvellously sticky with fantastic levels of grip and the whole car feels predictable and very safe through a series of corners at speed.
This is perfect if you like the twisting country roads that are meat and drink to me but unlike some other two-seaters, the Z4 is also very calm, composed and serene on the motorway.
Lower order models have a very comfortable ride, keeping occupants comfortable over the worst of surfaces.
But M-sport versions have lowered and stiffened suspension and this affects comfort quite badly, giving a knobbly feel over poor surfaces – especially at low speeds in town - there’s very little gain over the standard system in terms of roadholding.
Standard across the range is BMW’s Dynamic Stability Control safety system (DSC) which combines traction control, brake fade compensation and corner brake control.
All have side head/thorax airbags integrated into the seats as well as the more standard front airbags.
As with most BMW cars, the Z4 also has run-flat tyres that can be driven on for 150 miles at up to 50mph when an issue with the tyres occurs.
The boot is surprisingly big – remembering that’s where the roof goes when down - and even the more basic models come with a decent amount of standard equipment.
This includes big alloys, part-leather seats, air con, adjustable throttle and steering responsiveness, hill start assist, alarm, xenon headlights, multi-function steering wheel, trip computer and stereo with aux input.
But oddly in such an up-market car, sat nav was an extra in all models, so make sure you get it if you want it.
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Find your BMW Z4 your way with CarStore
You'll be very hard pushed to find a car that's better suited for a day in the sun with the top down than the BMW Z4. Whilst a used Z4 is at its element during weekend trips, it can double up as a great daily car thanks to decent fuel economy figures and a good level of comfort.
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