Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 3.0L I6
Power:
335 HP / 332 LB-FT
Transmission:
7-Speed DCT
0-60 Time:
4.8 Seconds (est.)
Top Speed:
155 MPH
Drivetrain:
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,549 LBS
Seating:
2
Cargo:
11.0 CU-FT (max)
MPG:
17 City / 24 HWY
Base Price:
$64,800
The BMW Z3/Z4 roadster has never really had a truly widespread following because it has either been too humble and small a roadster (albeit with some fun and very low-volume M editions) or it has been – in this E89 generation – too casual an image leader with no racier aspirations. The current 480-hp Z4 GTEs don't count, since they are as stock a Z4 as today's Pamela Anderson is the same blonde actress we knew as Lisa on Home Improvement. You know, sort of like those ever-so-slightly modified Toyota Camry coupes competing in NASCAR.

The ultimate highpoint for the BMW Z roadster franchise was at the very start of its life in the mid-90s, in the James Bond film GoldenEye with Pierce Brosnan. The Stinger missiles that Q's team installed behind the Z3's headlights were never fired, and BMW never even offered this self-defense package as an option. Yet another case of the ol' bait and switch.

And in all these subsequent years of Z3s and Z4s strutting their long-hooded stuff, the little sporting Bimmer could really have used a live Stinger missile or two to spice things up. The current Z4 exists, it is pretty dang sexy, and BMW seems content to let it linger there. We just drove the new midlife version of the roadster near BMW headquarters in Munich, and it served to reinforce our feelings.

Driving Notes
  • We have always harbored a desire to fall in love with this swoopy and well-proportioned roadster, but it still strikes us a bit like the way the over-designed Mercedes SLK now strikes us: a really nice lifestyle/reward car, with not much else going on.
  • All BMW had on hand for us was this Z4 sDrive35is with its 335-horsepower, 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo straight-six that also cranks to 332 pound-feet of torque, all spiffed up with the M Sport spa treatment and adaptive dampers. Things could be worse.
  • If we were going to take the graying-chest-hair plunge and grab a BMW Z4, it would be this exact car. Otherwise, and despite all the positives of the newer 240-hp four-cylinder sDrive28i model, what's the point? This particular roadster needs its strong six-cylinder to give it some character.
  • We would also be happier if this top-trim roadster could be equipped with the six-speed manual transmission that is offered on the aforementioned sDrive28i.
  • The optional Valencia Orange Metallic paint does look a bit two-tone precious to us when the black folding hardtop is closed, but it's still a sweetheart to gaze upon.
  • Looking at the standard Monroney sticker of $64,800 (the base sDrive28i now starts at $47,950) and then dragging our eyes down the hyper-extended list of optional add-ons until reaching our car's $75k-plus price estimate, one has to pause to take it all in. The Z4 35is is wonderful enough, but, man, it can cost a ton.
  • Our 19-inch, $1,200 optional M alloys with Bridgestone Potenza RE 050A run-flat treads, combined with the speed-sensitive electric power steering and Servotronic assistance, made for a usually fine but occasionally woggy feeling under some circumstances. Through series of curves taken at real speed, there was, at times, a vagueness of trajectory, again leaving us with the feeling that BMW wants the Z4 in any trim to be a car of leisure.
  • The adaptive M suspension package does help treat this vagueness from behind the wheel somewhat, but overall the various dynamic elements taken together create a slightly confused ride and handling experience for a sexy car that promises so much. Basically, the Z4 ends up feeling every bit of its 3,549 pounds. (For reference, a Porsche Boxster S weighs a tick under 3,000 pounds at its heaviest PDK curb weight and feels like even less than that.)
  • Attempting to make up for any black marks on the Z4's resume is this model's sheer power and torque. That final "s" tagged on to the name certainly helps. And while we miss a manual option, the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters is a sweet setup when its most dynamic mode is selected. However, we understand that BMW has no intention of even offering a self-locking sport limited-slip rear differential. Oh, well.
This freshened 2014 BMW Z4 has been on sale in North America since the end of March. It's a shame the car has become so sexy and interesting, yet so little time has been spent spicing up its chassis dynamics and overall drive feel. The absence of an M edition of the Z4 has been rather conspicuous, but perhaps that's because BMW's engineers know the platform isn't up to the job. This one's for sunny-day happy time cruising only... with style.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 57 Comments
      Christopher
      • 1 Year Ago
      As a I life long BMW driver I've given up on their cars. Since the days of the E46/39 it's just been down hill as far as I am concerned. Now BMW creates fat ugly/boring gadget laden transportation utility devises with idiotic names that weigh as much as the cars. One realizes how far they fallen when the M5 has to pipe in engine noise to pretend to be sporty. Looking BMW's sales it's obvious they are creating a product the market wants but then so do refrigerator manufacturers. BMW should stick to the beige 'JOY' marketing campaign as there sure is very little left of the 'Ultimate driving machine". 'Fahrfreude' yeah right.
        jason32379
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Christopher
        Life-long? Apparently you stopped at the E46 (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). I like the E90's and have owned two. But I am not a fan of the new F-chassis anything. BMW has fallen victim to bloated blandness and incentive-laden sales, and has turned their back on loyal customers. I will be looking at something else - a 328i should not exceed 45k with only a few options. Sure, I can get a 328i for $349 a month with zero down (with incentives), but what's the point if its just as nice as... Anything else. I will give BMW props for the excellent turbo 4 motor (even if it is pretty noisy), but it doesn't take much to get the real-world MPG's down to worse than the outgoing inline-six. But back to the Z4, I saw one on the showroom floor and was stunned, then laughed at the sticker price. Fully-loaded turbo-4 Z4 was 65k!!! That's insanity. The magic has worn off and BMW needs to find its mojo again.
      sundude
      • 1 Year Ago
      BMW's model names are getting stupider by the day...
      Dvanos
      • 1 Year Ago
      Overweight and over priced, seems like the new norm at BMW. So sad.
      Feurig
      • 1 Year Ago
      I bet if this were priced lower, it would have a much larger following.
      Trevor
      • 1 Year Ago
      $83,000.......... ARE YOU F"N KIDDING? This really just amazes me.
      Chris Goldrick
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm pretty sure these aren't selling, because I've seen exactly three in just as many years, so what do they do? Raise the price? Uh, that's not how the laws of supply and demand work.
        Teleny411
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Chris Goldrick
        I've seen a few, but you see way more Z3s than any of its successors.
          BG
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Teleny411
          And the Z3s are still popular and command pretty good prices. They were simple and easy to repair and fun.
      xyvyx
      • 1 Year Ago
      wow... pretty certain that's DOUBLE what I paid for my first Z4 (fairly loaded 3.0) back in 2003. Also more than double what I paid for my current, CPO 2007 Z4M Coupe... I'm sure it's fast, but no way would I trade my current M for this car nor is it worth near $80k given the Boxter/Cayman options... it is pretty, though :)
      Priapism
      • 1 Year Ago
      "sDrive35iS", because "Z4" was too easy to remember. BMW lost the way a looong time ago...
      Scott Rogers
      • 1 Year Ago
      Could BMW have come up with a stupider naming structure? Perhaps they could include other options in the name, like the color, trim, wheel size, etc? At least they kept it short on the trunk otherwise the car would weigh another 100lbs.
        1STH
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scott Rogers
        agreed. nobody wants a sports car with a name that sounds like a model of vacuum cleaner.
      rmkensington
      • 1 Year Ago
      $83k & 3500 pounds. Are they dumping lead and gold in the trunk to achieve this?
      Teleny411
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Z3 sold quite well for a roadster with over 100,000 units moved in a little less than six full years. The Z4 has only moved 20k units one time. The Z3 was lighter, more focused and insane in M versions. Plus it was at a lower price point than the Z4 with much less kit. I can't imagine every Z3 sold was anything but tremendously profitable considering its e30/36 roots and parts bin nature. BMW needs to drop the bloated gts and get back to building small, light, tossable Zs for not much more than Miata money.
      Kuro Houou
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why did they make it look worse? And whats with BMW putting cheap looking chrome fender vents on all of their cars now? Did they want to make their cars more likable so they could be in the next Fast and the Furious? Seriously, the new 4 series has the worst looking ones, along with the 3 series GT. And now the Z4 has some... Just sad BMW, you really lost your touch on good looking cars!!
        Matthew Davis
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kuro Houou
        Overall, it looks fabulous, on the contrary. BUT...I completely agree with you on the chintzy chrome vents popping up everywhere. Unnecessary "flair". Like opera lights on vinyl topped Caddies in the 1970s. Okay, not quite as bad as that, but still...
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