New BMW Z4 in the test: the roadster is really that good


The new BMW Z4 is a real alternative for Porsche drivers

New BMW Z4 in the test: the roadster is really that good-good

The Z4 has become eight centimeters longer and seven centimeters wider, it looks beefy and for the first time has a kidney grille between the narrow headlights

Source: BMW / Bernhard Limberger

With the new Z4, BMW completes the German car quartet in the roadster class. It’s a fun vehicle that gives the driver the feeling of being the greatest. The Z4 isn’t cheap, but you get a lot on offer.

VMaybe I can briefly talk about the old, very old BMW Z4, although this is supposed to be about the latest model: In the very first Z4 I had a kind of coming out as a fast driver. I don’t even know if I should admit this in public, but yes, I like to drive fast. At least with sporty cars on lonely, winding country roads, and that started in 2002, as a BMW presented the first Z4.

At that time, I made the following agreement with my fellow car tester, who was sitting with me in the 231 hp roadster at the time: Each of us drives only 15 minutes and can do whatever he wants during this time. And for the other, the quarter of an hour in the passenger seat will somehow pass by.

I thought of that when I arrived at the Circuito do Estoril, where the Portuguese Grand Prix had been held until 1996. There was a brand new third-generation BMW Z4 in the pit lane, this time all by myself, without a co-driver. I didn’t hesitate for long, because I’ve got used to sporty driving since the 15-minute stages 16 years ago, and on racetracks (wide, no oncoming traffic) I can’t resist at all.

New BMW Z4 in the test: the roadster is really that good-test

Although the new BMW Z4 is longer and wider, it feels more manageable than its predecessor

Source: BMW / Bernhard Limberger

However, the car has to fit. Whether the future basic Z4 with turbo four-cylinder and 197 PS is suitable for Estoril has to remain open, because BMW (wisely?) Only provided the top model, the Z4 M40i with three-liter six-cylinder, 340 PS and 500 Newton meters of torque. A juicy piece of technology if you want to ignore the worries of everyday life (consumption, CO2, etc.).

Yes, this car immediately made me forget all worries. It is not just the engine, whose turbocharging produces a lot of thrust from 1500 revs and which still revs up willingly and produces a powerful sound. No, it is the overall composition of the Z4 that has noticeably been given more sportiness: with a wider track (plus ten centimeters at the front, plus six at the rear) and a shortened wheelbase (2.45 instead of 2.47 meters), the geometry of the car already stands for more willing turning and stronger support in curves.

In addition, there is the axle load distribution of exactly 50:50, the newly developed chassis and the variable sports steering that is standard in all Z4s – the steering force and steering angle are adapted to the situation so that, for example, you have to turn less sharply in narrow bends than with normal steering. This support is so unobtrusive and effective that I consistently believed I was a good driver. It could be, but the BMW definitely plays its part.

The basic version of the Z4 starts at 40,950 euros

All in all, the new Z4 has become bigger, it now measures 4.32 meters (plus 8.5 cm) and is 1.86 meters wide (plus 7 cm), and at 1.30 meters it is even one centimeter higher – although the retractable steel roof is now history and has been replaced by a roadster-typical fabric hood. It can be operated electrically, as befits its status, and it opens and closes within just ten seconds, even while driving at up to 50 km / h.

As soon as I wanted to drive the Z4 open, I unfortunately had to leave the racetrack, but life is more on normal roads anyway. Wherever it was not always about the limit area, because traffic rules and oncoming traffic had to be taken into account, the Z4 could be experienced as a completely normal, still very agile production car – and lo and behold, there was also a certain comfort to be felt. I was also able to stop and take a look at the car while driving.

Unsurprisingly, the radiator grille in its brand-typical double kidney shape has again become larger and more distinctive than on the previous model, but the headlights on the right and left are a real innovation: the low-beam and high-beam lamps in the Z4 are not next to, but on top of each other, which makes the car one gives a very unique look, but in any case visually emphasizes the width of the body and especially the grill. Another new feature is the bonnet, which extends far over the fenders on the right and left, making it the largest bonnet of all BMW models in terms of surface area represents.

New BMW Z4 in the test: the roadster is really that good-good

The new Z4 gets a more modern cockpit and a contemporary infotainment system. A head-up display is also available for an additional charge

Source: BMW / Bernhard Limberger

The Z4 M40i costs 60,950 euros, the basic version sDrive 20i is available from 40,950 euros, and in between there is the sDrive 30i, also with a two-liter four-cylinder but 258 hp, for 48,950 euros. Not cheap, but comparable motorized competing models from Mercedes (SLC), Audi (TT) and especially Porsche (718 Boxster) are not available in the special offer.

You also have to take into account that BMW offers plenty of electronic systems. Collision and personal warning with city brake function as well as lane departure warning are standard on board, for an extra charge there is adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and everything else, even automatic parking is available. And: For the first time, BMW is offering a roadster with a head-up display.

Toyota offers the Supra as a coupe

Ultimately, this does not match the puristic demands of a roadster, but it can prove useful in the event of a crisis. And quite apart from the electronic overkill: The substance of the Z4 remains unaffected, BMW has built a very agile sports car here, which is an interesting alternative, especially for Porsche drivers.

But whoever doesn’t have a mid-range sports car at BMW or Porsche, Audi or Mercedes thinks he just needs a little patience. The Z4 will hit dealerships in March 2019, with the sister model Toyota Supra arriving in the summer. In fact, BMW and Toyota had already agreed to jointly develop a sports car in 2012, and now both cars are almost finished.

New BMW Z4 in the test: the roadster is really that good-test

After the last Z4 came with an ugly hard shell, the new one has a fabric top again

Source: BMW / Bernhard Limberger

While the BMW is offered exclusively as a roadster, Toyota also builds a coupe exclusively. Both cars are not visually related, but the technology under the sheet metal comes from Munich – so there will be neither hybrid nor front-wheel drive in the Toyota.

The price for the Supra, which was last offered in 2002 and has never really caught on in Europe, has not yet been determined. It is known, however, that there will initially only be 900 copies for all of Europe, which you can apply for on the Internet if you join the Supra 900 Club.

Perhaps I would find it easier to just go to the BMW dealer.

The trip to the presentation of the Z4 was supported by BMW. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at

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14 thoughts on “New BMW Z4 in the test: the roadster is really that good”

  1. To describe the electric top as befitting a roadster makes me doubt the handlebars competence. ­čśë
    Overall nicely described, such a vehicle ultimately lives from the driving impressions, and the bull engine plays a large part in that. Whereby a lighter and only slightly weaker 4-cylinder can underline the roadster-like character.
    Whether a Boxster here or there a few tenths faster or lighter or "great" is usually down to the driver and not the device. Yes, it is / looks more manageable in a direct comparison, but which Porsche driver actually competes?!?

  2. BMW and Toyota had already agreed on a joint development in 2012. – Of course, that’s how long it takes to develop a car.

  3. Nice car, but now incredibly expensive for a mere 65,000 euros with the engine of your choice and some additional equipment. Worth about half after a year. The legal maximum speed in almost all countries except Germany is a maximum of 130 kmh. 50 hp are enough for that. My young colleagues are no longer interested in cars and no longer even have a license. You use other modes of transport and your status symbols are in completely different areas. The conventional business model of the German automotive industry may work for a few more years. But it will have had its day in the medium term. It will have to reorient itself quickly, or it will go under.

  4. "The legal maximum speed in almost all countries except Germany is a maximum of 130 kmh. 50 hp are enough for that."
    Well, in Switzerland, for example, there are seldom 50 HP cars. Why is that??

  5. And I’m missing jump seats !! Porsche has them, so why not also feasible with other sports cars? Or is it about the fact that not only 1 co-driver is afraid, but 3?

  6. So BMW reacted to the unflattering test results of the last Z4 model. A brand that "driving pleasure " writes on the flags should do so too. The constant watering down and softening of your models does not pay off in the long run. Anyone who strays too far from their brand core loses their credibility in the long run and consequently their traditional buyers. My Z3 feels more robust and authentic than any Z4. That is why I welcome the alignment of the new Z4.

  7. "The Z4 has become eight centimeters longer and seven centimeters wider"
    This is very important for those buyers who have a certain body part that is too small.

  8. For me this is the most beautiful BMW in a long time.
    Unfortunately quite massive, so only interesting as an M40.
    But then it costs EUR 70,000.
    The comparison with Fiat Spider or MX 5 is out of the question, as these cars are not available with an engine.
    There are currently no electric drives in roadsters. So the BMW R6 is okay for the next 20 years.
    As for the Porsche Boxster: nice car, but with comparable performance and equipment, significantly more expensive.
    The differences in performance are not an issue for 99.9% of customers. Hardly anyone will be able to hang out with one another, with equally good drivers.
    Even the Porsche’s higher Vmax is of little relevance in reality.
    I would really like a Fiat Spider with 280 hp for 30,000 Eur.

  9. As is well known, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but for me this BMW is from "shapely" far cry.
    This will probably become apparent in the foreseeable future, even if other viewers get tired of the many beads and edges.
    However, for me there is no question that the engine is a piece of cake.

  10. Which engine is a piece of cake? Probably not the entry-level version, the 2 liter with 184 hp? This works in all sedan variants

  11. There is no alternative to driving a Porsche. Especially since the Porsche dual clutch transmission is very good. If you want parking assistance systems in a sports car, you can buy the Z4.

  12. But let’s not kid ourselves, since the 991 at the latest, the Porsches have lost some of their sportiness. Especially in the interior it is inflated like an S-Class and not very sporty.
    And Porsche as a whole, with the Panamera, Macan and Cayenne, has developed a long way from being a real sports car company. The 911’s share of the overall business is now negligible. In the museum you try to keep all these vehicles out completely, even the Boxster, in the presentations of the sales figures you have to calculate the proportions of the 911 yourself, but none of that can hide the fact that Porsche has clearly developed away from one real sports car company and that the 911 itself is now positioned significantly differently than it was 10-15 years ago.


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