- Good quality interior
- Decent engine performance
- Unique styling
- Not that fun to drive
- Poor safety record
- Thirsty engines
BMW’s comfortable Z4 lacks a little vitality
The BMW Z series roadsters have been with us in the UK for quite some time now. Since our first introduction in 1995 to the Z3, the Z range has come on leaps and bounds. The second generation Z4 we have with us today first rolled off the production line in 2009. It has received mixed reviews in the press, especially concerning its looks, which seem to divide opinion. Despite this, the Z4 is still a capable sports car. There’s a good range of powerful engines, a good-quality interior, and there’s a decent amount of space compared to some of its rivals.
Classy cabin and user-friendly infotainment
The interior of the Z4 is one place where it manages to excel. It might not quite have the glamour of an Audi TT, it matches it for quality.
The dashboard of the Z4 is a beautifully designed combination of soft-touch plastics, and colour-coded inlays, which personalises your Z4 to match the paint job on the outside. Controls are precise and easy to use, and the folding roof is one that feel solid. Some upgraded models come with a red leather interior which may, or may not be to everyone's taste, but it’s certainly unique. All in all the cabin feels like a BMW should- high-class.
If you’re thinking of buying a sports roadster, one of the most unlikely things on your tick list is going to be space. However, with the roof up at least, there’s a surprising amount of room. There’s even enough space for your golf clubs. When the roof is down however, it’s a different story. There’s probably enough room for a small picnic hamper, or a few shopping bags, but not much else. But, it is 2-seater sports roadster, it’s to be expected, and it’s a little more spacious than a Porsche Boxster.
Equipment levels in the Z4 are pretty impressive. Everything above the 18i comes with leather seats, automatic xenon headlights, and dual-zone climate control. There’s also a pretty impressive infotainment setup - a DAB radio, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity all come as standard. Unfortunately sat-nav is an expensive optional extra, and we’d have liked to see BMW’s fantastic iDrive system included at this level, but nevertheless, the system installed in the Z4 is user-friendly.
All in all, the interior of the Z4 is pretty decent. There’s enough quality in the cabin to keep even the pickiest of people happy. There’s not a lot of storage space, but that’s to be expected, and there’s decent standard kit. The infotainment system is easy-to-use, but an expensive upgrade is required if you really want to make the most of it.
Enjoyable handling, comfortable ride
BMW is a brand that prides itself on providing the ‘ultimate driving machine’. Whilst the Z4 is a fun car to drive, it’s arguable as to whether it quite lives up to this billing. Compared to the Porsche Boxster, or even the Audi TT, it’s nowhere near as rewarding. Grip however is pretty impressive, though steering isn’t as incisive as it could be, so it’s not as exciting as rivals on twisty roads. There is a Drive Performance Control system included on all models, which allows you to tailor your driving experience according to the circumstances, but no matter the mode, it still isn’t a match for the Porsche or the Audi.
Suspension and Chassis
Comfort wise, the Z4 does manage to impress. For such a sports-oriented car the chassis and suspension manage to iron out the majority of nasty potholes, whilst also keeping body roll in check. M Sport models come with a slightly stiffer set-up, that improve handling somewhat, but compromise on ride quality.
Gearbox options on the Z4 are limited to one manual, and two automatics. The 6-speed manual is the one that comes with the majority of the range, with only the range topping sDrive35iS coming with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. This gearbox in particular is impressive, slipping through the gears with precision, and giving you the option of manually changing gear through F1 style paddles.
Strong petrol engines
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your Z4, you’ve only got the option of petrol power. There’s quite a few options available to suit the needs of the power hungry, and those who like to save on fuel. None are particularly eco-friendly, but then this is a sports car!
If it’s power that you want from your Z4, the best option in the lineup is the six-cylinder 35is sDrive. This engine packs in 340bhp, that will power you from 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds. Most engines on offer in the Z4 have enough bite to put a smile on your face, if you don’t fancy this level of extreme performance.
For most people, eco-credentials aren’t the first thing that come to mind when buying a sports roadster. As you would expect, even the most environmentally friendly car in the range isn’t particularly impressive. If you do hold concerns however, the best option in the range is the four-cylinder 18i sDrive, which produces 159 g/km of C02. This model is also the best in terms of fuel economy, offering 41.5mpg.
Whichever engine you go for in your Z4, it’s going to have enough oomph to keep the majority of petrolheads happy. There is a reasonably efficient engine option in the 18i, but it also happens to be the least powerful, so probably won't appeal to many.
Disappointing NCAP safety results
Unfortunately, compared to its main rivals, the Z4 scored poorly in its NCAP safety test, achieving only three stars out of five. It’s to be expected that a sports roadster isn’t going to be the safest car in the world, but both the Audi TT and the Mazda MX-5 managed to score four stars comfortably, achieving far more impressive percentage scores on adult, child, and pedestrian safety. There’s also not much in the way of safety equipment, though there are front and side airbags, and fixed metal hoops behind the headrests. If you’re looking for safety, the Z4 probably shouldn’t be at the top of your list.
Decent running costs
The BMW Z4 range offers car that are reasonable to run, without being spectacularly cheap. Four-cylinder options offer reasonable fuel economy, and C02 emissions, but don’t quite match up to the Audi TT. Top of the range models that feature six-cylinder engines compromise fuel and road tax costs, at the expense of performance.
Insurance wise, it depends upon which model of Z4 you choose to go for. The range starts in insurance group 34 for the 18i sDrive, right the way up to group 43 for the range-topping 35i sDrive DCT. This is again slightly more than you would for an equivalent Audi TT, but a little cheaper than a Mercedes SLK.
Depreciation after the first year is actually pretty impressive for the Z4. But with first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re far better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The BMW Z4 is a good option for those looking for a sports roadster. It might not be quite as impressive as some of its rivals, but it does offer buyers a high-end interior, and a comfortable ride quality. It disappoints in quite a few areas however, so it’s worth considering options from competitors as well.
Buying a used BMW Z4 online with Carspring
If you’re after a used BMW Z4 for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used Z4. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used BMW online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used Z4? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used BMW Z4, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used BMW, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Carspring Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used BMW to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st year depreciation cost of 40%.