BMW Z4 E89 (2009-on): review, problems and specs

BMW decided to trim a little the Z4 when considering the second-generation. So, from a juvenile rebellious soft-top roadster with questionable design, it became a manly-yet-sophisticated sought-after rival for Mercedes-Benz SLK and Porsche Boxster.

BMW Z4 — which is designed by women, by the way — had its mid-life rejuvenation in 2013 and it managed to transform itself into something even more desirable.


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • The looks, oh the looks!
  • High levels of comfort
  • Engines and transmission are top notch

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • A bit too little storage space

Stay Away From
  • sDrive18i
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • 2012-2014 MY sDrive28i recalled over hydraulic brake system small issues
Car Details
Powertrain

BMW Z4 uses only turbocharged petrol units for mobility — a good call for a romantic roadster, isn’t it? The entry-level Z4 sDrive18i makes use of the 154 hp 2.0-liter four-pot while the top-of-the-line sDrive35is (a 3.0-liter inline-six) can speed up your promenade with no less than 335 hp.
In between you’ll find progressively powerful engines — the four-pots sDrive20i with 181 hp and sDrive28i with 242 hp, or the inline-six 35i with 302 hp — to suit your needs or wishes. With 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.8 seconds, sDrive35is is only half a second short of the M4’s.
In the handle of the power’s management are a six-speed manual transmission and a 7-speed dual clutch Steptronic -- the latter comes as standard on the sDrive35is.


Handling

As (almost) any BMW, Z4 has rear-wheel-drive motricity, optimized by an electronically locked differential. The revised suspension helps you get over bumpy roads with more gracefulness while diminishing the body roll on twisty ones. Compared to the generation before, it's more mature.
As for the power runs, the Driving Experience Control (DEC) will make the steering heavier, the suspension stiffer and the throttle pedal more sensitive. The car feels so composed and predictable -- you'll hardly get any attention from the electronic assists.


Safety

Let aside the fact that the car's body shell is impressively stiff, Z4 gets front and side driver/passenger airbags, along with active roll bars behind the headrests, run-flat tires and a suite of electronic assistants (incorporated in DSC+ acronym).

Comfort

The cockpit is another proof that Z4 evolved to a more fastidious clientele -- it's roomier, quieter, and more carved.
If you choose the sportiest sDrive35is version, you'll get sports seats as standard -- that provides sufficient levels of side support. Otherwise, the standard seats are a welcomed feature if you want to cover in the most comfortable way long distances in your Bavarian roadster.
The hardtop might be a bit of an overkill for the purists (lightweight, bro), but it proves to be a more mature approach when it comes to cabin wind noises. The soundproofing is great, letting you hear the hum of the inline-six engine.
The roof hides in the boot on a push of a button, in no more than 20 seconds, and the wind deflector between the headrests is doing a proper job keeping the air calm in the cabin.


Quality

The built quality in the cabin reflects the Bavarian spirit -- well-fit panels, upmarket materials, posh feeling. BMW's engineers challenged themselves to keep the squeaks, rattles and the vibration at a minimum -- phenomena often related to open tops -- and, well, they did a great job.
The poshness is reflected in the engine choice: the more powerful and bigger, the more equipment given as standard. And if you opt for leather seats with SunReflective Technology, you are assured that your leather will not reach boiling temperatures, even when abandoning it in direct sunlight.


Practicality

You're looking at a roadster, so we're guessing you're not expecting miracles here. The already small 310-liter boot enters the shoebox category when the hard top is hidden there, shrinking to just 180 liters. That might create challenges even when it comes to weekend trips. But the lack of storage space compensates with the plus of cabin comfort when the roof is up.


Infotainment

You'll have to turn to the options list to augment the iDrive infotainment system. Although from 2013 on the DAB Radio is standard equipment, for the USB hands-free feature you'll have to pay extra, for example.
So voice command, Professional sat-nav, and Hi-Fi surround -- it's all there, one ticked option box away.

Efficiency

The turbocharging technology is nonetheless improving the fuel consumption -- the entry-level sDrive18i manages as much as 34.5 mpg in combined cycle, for example. That is not bad at all, considering you're driving a playboy-appealing roadster with more-than-decent driving abilities, right?
As you progress through the engines, the fuel efficiency drops slightly, the most powerful version sDrive35is demanding 26 mpg in the best case scenario. (P.S.: almost never)


Equipment

For 18i and 20i versions, the equipment suite includes, along the previously mentioned safety and infotainment features, 17" alloy wheels with run flat tires, Xenon headlights, Driving Experience Control, multi-function leather-covered steering wheel, DAB digital radio, fabric seats, front and rear ventilated discs, air conditioning, and a metallic roof that opens the sky in 20 seconds.
28i gets Kansas leather seats while the 35i and 35is cover pretty much every you need with a generous equipment package. Among the most useful extras to fit in your Z4 are the wind deflector and parking sensors. Be sure to check them, you won't regret a bit.


Acquisition

If you want a grown up roadster to cope with most of the roadster-type situations, then the Z4 is one good alternative to Mercedes-Benz SLK. In the same arena also sits Porsche Boxster, for those who prioritize the sportiness.

Click on a model to learn more about it.
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