The BMW Z4 is one of the more intriguing sports cars currently available. It's known for its engaging handling and steering, thrilling inline six-cylinder engine and distinctive styling. Although its stated horsepower ratings are equaled or surpassed by those of some less expensive machinery, the Z4 counters with a lighter curb weight and, in most cases, a more rewarding driving experience. Recent improvements have made the latest Z4 the best yet, and older models are still a very viable choice for a used sports car.
The BMW Z4 is built at the company's Spartanburg, South Carolina, facility, and has been in production since the 2003 model year. It's a successor to the original Z3 and is the company's only two-seat sports car. It features traditional characteristics such as a front-engine/rear-drive layout, a hunkered-down stance, a long hood and rearward positioning of driver and passenger. Another notable element is the car's chiseled exterior design, which BMW says is used to add tension to the car's shape.
The BMW Z4 is available as a roadster with a convertible top or a fixed-roof coupe. For the roadster, there are two trim levels: 3.0i and 3.0si. The Z4 3.0i comes with features such as 17-inch wheels, stability control, antilock brakes, power mirrors and windows, manually operated seats and vinyl upholstery. A 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine rated at 215 horsepower is standard, as is a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is optional.
The Z4 3.0si features 18-inch wheels, a few upgraded interior features and a 255-hp 3.0-liter inline six. A few options are also available for both trim levels, including a Premium package with a power-operated top and a Sport package designed to improve the vehicle's handling capabilities. The Z4 Coupe is offered in the 3.0si trim only.
Even without the Sport package, the Z4 rewards drivers with an engaging driving experience. In Edmunds.com reviews of the BMW Z4, editors have praised the car's sharp reflexes and quick acceleration. The Coupe possesses a slight advantage in terms of handling due to its added body rigidity. For shoppers desiring even more performance, there's also an M-powered version of the Z4.
Because of a major update for 2006, Z4 models from this year and onwards are a better choice than earlier models, if price is no object. This update included the mid-year release of the coupe body style, the 215-hp and 255-hp engines, and the six-speed automatic. Other changes to the BMW sports car included a retuned standard suspension for better ride quality, a higher final-drive ratio for improved acceleration, new wheel designs, additional braking functionality for the stability control system, updated front and rear styling and minor interior trim updates.
From 2003-'05, BMW Z4 models were identified as either 2.5i or 3.0i. The 2.5i has a 2.5-liter, inline six-cylinder engine that makes 184 hp, while the 3.0i uses a 3.0-liter straight six that generates 225 hp. For transmissions, there is a five-speed manual (standard on the 2.5), a six-speed manual (standard on the 3.0), a five-speed automatic or, as on the M3, a six-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG). There were a few minor changes made during this period in terms of feature content, but none of them were significant enough to make one model year more desirable than another.