2002 Z3 New Car Test Drive
The 2002 BMW Z3 brings the rewards of six years of consistent and conscientious development and improvement. The exciting, odd-looking Z3 was BMW's contribution to the rebirth of the sports car that began with the Mazda Miata and has included the Mercedes-Benz SLK, Toyota MR-2 Spyder and other two seaters. However, the 1996 Z3 didn't reach the company's high standards of refinement, in particular with its suspension, but all of that began being corrected almost immediately.
And now we have the 2002 Z3. Its sawed-off looks haven't changed much (though now they're fully accepted). But the engine has jumped from the original 138-horsepower 1.9-liter four-cylinder to an available 225-horsepower 3.0-liter six-cylinder, reducing 0 to 60 mph acceleration performance from about 8 seconds to less than 6.
As the last model of its generation, the original Z3 won't get any better than this.
There are two Z3 Roadsters and one Coupe. Plus, there's an M Roadster and an M Coupe. The 2.5i Roadster is least expensive by a bunch, at $31,300. The 3.0i stickers at $37,900; and the distinctive Coupe goes for $37,700.
The three models use two engines, which were new in 2001. The Coupe and 3.0i Roadster use a 225-horsepower 3.0-liter double overhead-cam inline-6, while the 2.5i Roadster uses a 184-horsepower 2.5-liter version of that smooth mill with variable-valve timing. A five-speed gearbox is standard (beefier with the 3.0), while a five-speed Steptronic (manually operated automatic) is optional.
Significant standard features on all models are BMW's DSC (electronic stability program), vented front discs on four-wheel ABS, two-stage front airbags plus side airbags in the doors, a zero-maintenance battery, and Coded Driveaway Protection, an anti-theft system which prevents the car from being started without your key.
2.5i gets 16-inch wheels and leatherette upholstery (leather optional), with four-way power driver's seat and two-way passenger seat.
Coupe and 3.0i come standard with 17-inch wheels, leather, four-way seats, an in-dash CD player and Harman Kardon audio system (optional on the 2.5i).
Options include a power top or removable hardtop with heated rear window for the Roadsters; and, for all three models, heated seats and a six-disc player installed by BMW dealers. A Sport Package includes 17-inch cross spoke wheels and sport seats, plus brushed aluminum trim and a mesh front air intake.
In addition to the Z3s, BMW offers the M Coupe and M Roadster. Although these cars are in the M line with the five-seat M3 Coupe and Convertible, they're actually more like Z3s, using the same basic bodywork. If 225 horsepower isn't enough for you from the 3.0-liter Z3, the M is what you want, with a 3.2-liter engine producing a killer 315 horsepower. The Roadster sells for $45,990, including freight; the Coupe retails for $44,990.