2011 BMW Z4 Reviews

2011 Z4 New Car Test Drive


The BMW Z4 is a two-seat roadster with a retractable hardtop. With the top up, the Z4 is like a coupe, offering the benefits of a hardtop: better security, superior chassis rigidity, less obstructed rearward visibility, better interior isolation and better protection from the weather. Drop the top, and it's a roadster. 

For 2011, the BMW Z4 sDrive35is joins the lineup. The Z4 sDrive35is delivers even more performance than the already-quick Z4 sDrive35i. It comes with enhanced aerodynamic and handling features, unique wheels, distinctive exterior trim and details, and interior comfort and feature upgrades. It is as close as to a high-performance M model as BMW will offer because there no plans for a Z4 M (that we know of, that is). 

A new M Sport package is available for the 2011 Z4 sDrive30i model. Otherwise, the Z4 lineup stays mostly pat, adding smartphone integration for 2011. The current BMW Z4, introduced for the 2009 model year, is the second generation of the Z4 name (first launched in 2003). 

The Z4 offers the driving character you expect from BMW and it will be familiar to any fan of the brand. The performance and feel of balanced precision is there in every Z4. We like the base Z4 sDrive30i with its free-revving engine, equipped with the manual gearbox and no iDrive, no navigation system. We feel the highly optioned Z4s weigh more and tend to feel more like grand touring machines than sports cars. The high-performance sDrive35is with the dual-clutch gearbox gets close to a track-day tool. 

While some will choose a Z4 based solely on the badge and others solely on style, over time they will learn the real reasons, both objective and emotional, behind the car and why they want to keep it. Others will appreciate the performance and technology without regard to style, and yet others will shop merely because they've been waiting for a folding hardtop roadster from Munich. 


The 2011 BMW Z4 comes in three models, sDrive30i, sDrive35i, and sDrive 35is. In current BMW nomenclature, sDrive refers to rear-wheel drive. However, there are no xDrive (all-wheel-drive) Z4s and no M model has been announced. 

The BMW Z4 sDrive30i ($46,000) comes with a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine making 255 horsepower at 6600 rpm and 220 pound-feet of torque at 2600 rpm. It is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission; a 6-speed sport automatic with shift paddles is optional ($1,375). The Z4 comes standard with faux leather upholstery, manual climate control, interior air filter, cruise control, power retractable hardtop, heated power mirrors and rear window, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, six-way manual bucket seats, tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, rain-sensing wipers, AM/FM/CD stereo with HD radio, auxiliary input jack, trip computer, automatic adaptive bi-Xenon headlamps, and P225/45R17 run-flat tires on alloy wheels. 

Options include brushed aluminum or ash wood trim ($500) and Kansas leather upholstery ($1,250), which includes the aluminum interior trim. The Ivory White Extended Leather package ($2,150) includes full Ivory Nappa White leather upholstery, sport seats, and Anthracite wood interior trim. The Premium package ($3900) includes dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power seats with lumbar adjustment, memory for the driver's seat and mirrors, BMW Assist, Bluetooth wireless cell phone link, universal garage door opener, auto-dimming outside and rearview mirrors, and ambient interior lighting. The Sport package ($2,300) includes sports suspension with electronic shock absorber control, P225/40R18 front and P255/35R18 rear run-flat tires, light alloy wheels, increased top-speed limiter, and sport seats. A Cold Weather package ($1,000) includes heated seats, a heated steering wheel, a trunk passthrough and headlight washers. 

New for 2011 is the M Sport package ($3,900) for the sDrive30i, which comes with an increased top speed limiter, sports seats, black headliner, body cladding, sports suspension with electronic shock absorber control, P225/40R18 front and P255/35R18 rear run-flat tires, and light alloy wheels. Also new for 2011 is Smartphone integration ($150). Other options consist of a navigation system ($2,150) with an 80-gigabyte hard drive, voice recognition, real-time traffic information and an iPod interface; front and rear park assist ($750); a Premium Sound package ($1,800) with 14 speakers, 650 watts, Sirius satellite radio and an iPod adapter; BMW Assist ($750); heated seats ($500); keyless access and starting ($500); satellite radio ($350); iPod adapter ($400); alarm ($400); and a trunk pass-through ($195). 

The Z4 sDrive35i ($51,900) has a 3.0-liter inline-6 that delivers 300 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 300 pound-feet of torque from 1400 to 5000 rpm; it is a different engine than the 30i and employs twin turbochargers. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard and a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission (DCT) is optional ($1,575). Other mechanical upgrades include larger brakes and larger P255/40R17 rear tires. Cabin upgrades include standard leather upholstery, brushed aluminum trim or ash wood, and automatic dual-zone climate control. Options are similar to those above. Kansas leather upholstery on the dash, visors, and door sills ($1,350) is optional. 

The Z4 sDrive35is features an engine with increased intake airflow and increased boost pressure to deliver even more power. Its maximum output is 335 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 332 pound-feet of torque from 1500 to 4500 rpm. In addition, its engine management system includes an electronically controlled overboost function which increases torque by another 37 pound-feet, for a temporary peak of 369 pound-feet for up to seven seconds. 

The sDrive35is ($61,050) has the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission as standard equipment, with the programming tailored to complement the nature of the car and engine. The sDrive35is also features some M Sport upgrades, including M Aerodynamics and adaptive M Suspension, which combines a ride-height reduction of 10 millimeters with electronically controlled shock absorbers to improve handling without compromising comfort. It also has special five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels with P225/40R18 front and P255/35R18 rear tires. 

Safety features included on all Z4 models: dual frontal airbags, head/thorax side airbags in the seats, active knee protection, roll hoops, electronic stability, traction control, anti-lock brakes, and tire-pressure monitoring. Manual transmission models also have a hill-holder clutch to prevent the car from rolling backward when the clutch is engaged. The only option related to safety is the front and rear park assist. 

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