BMW Z4… It feels like an eternity since this car revealed to the world. I am only covering it now because of a realization. Recently, McLaren showed the world the 720S Spider. This made me think – there are so many two-seat roadsters in the world. However, many of them were designed as a coupe first and roadster later, like the 720S Spider. Then I thought about the cars that have been designed as two-seat roadsters first and foremost. These were the names I came up with – Mazda MX-5 Miata/Fiat 124 Spider, Mercedes-AMG SL65, and Porsche 718 Boxster. The BMW Z4 is a part of that select group. Time to finally talk about it and know if BMW did right by reviving it.
BMW Z4 – Image Gallery
What’s new about the BMW Z4?
I call the BMW Z4 a specialty car because it is not the all-rounder most cars aspire to be. Two seats, removable soft top, and 281 litres of boot space (roof up or down) – these are just some facts that make this car different from something like a Mustang GT. The Mustang GT is a 2+2 car, even though its rear seats are unusable for regular-sized folks.
In short, where the Z4 can carry a weekend’s worth luggage at max, the Mustang GT can carry four-five days’ luggage at max. This makes the Z4 best for city use (with two people seated) or just one person (when travelling). The saving grace is the through-loading feature that lets you access the boot from the cabin (it’s optional though).
The new BMW Z4 is a third-generation model (codenamed G29) and uses a retractable soft-top roof. Design-wise, the car goes traditional with long hood, and short rear deck. The roofline does not slope like a fastback, which is a welcome change. That just shows that this car likes to turn heads only when the roof is down. I don’t think its owners will complain about that.
Some stylistic touches make the car look modern – short overhangs, integrated rear spoiler, 50:50 (front:rear) weight distribution. Up front and back, those lamps lend the exterior a stylish touch. Adding muscularity to the BMW Z4’s looks are bonnet creases, side vents, and those rear wheel arches. Looks wise, I find it tough to decide which modern BMW looks best – the Z4 or the 8 Series. Good job here, BMW.
Inside, the interior of the new Z4 is a nice place to be in. Some elements stand out like the door panels. These are shaped similar to the contour on either side of the car’s exterior. The dashboard has a driver-oriented design and even its shape seems to reflect that. This is a good thing because the car feel like it wraps around the driver. As a result, you feel the car to be compact, which aids your confidence to drive it with ease.
The driver of the new BMW Z4 is spoiled. You are greeted by a digital instrument cluster. It displays usual information like engine and vehicle speed, engine temperature, fuel capacity, vehicle range, clock, drive mode, transmission gate, etc. Despite that, there is enough space between the tacho and speedo to display an excerpt from the navigation map.
The display changes its colour depending on the mode the car is in – Blue in ECO Pro to Red in Sport. Moreover, within the speedo arc, info on driver systems is displayed. The tacho arc can be programmed to show infotainment content. Changing the vehicle’s mode also changes the information displayed here. In Comfort and Sport mode, the right arc shows engine speed. In ECO Pro mode, it shows the current fuel consumption and average speed. BMW calls this solution Live Cockpit Professional.
This brings me to the infotainment screen of the car. Measuring 10.25 inches across, it can be upgraded remotely the way a Tesla does. It is driver-configurable up to 10 pages, each with two-four tiles of live content. Your choice of interaction with this screen – iDrive controller, touch, voice, and gestures.
It also houses the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, a dedicated AI assistant for the car. It is an always-on assistant and you can name it too. A command like ‘Hey BMW, I am cold’ will see it fiddle with car’s cabin temperature settings to suit your needs.
The only (somewhat) sore point in all this is the Remote Upgrade option. While the car is upgrading, you cannot use it. BMW tries to solve this problem by making the option to carry out the installation process upon your confirmation only. This is a small issue with what has so far been a great car to talk about.
Coming to drivetrain options, the BMW Z4 makes use of two engines – a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol. Both engines feature turbochargeing (twin-scroll type). The smaller engine’s output is rated at 197HP/258HP and 320Nm/400Nm power and torque, respectively. The bigger engine’s output is rated at 340HP and 500Nm power and torque, respectively.
Either engine is mated to an eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox that powers the rear wheels. The six-cylinder engine-equipped car can go from 0-100kmph in just 4.5 seconds. The four-cylinder versions can do the deed in 5.4 seconds or 6.6 seconds, depending on the engine tune. The go-fast aids on the BMW Z4 include ABS, traction control, stability control, brake control, cornering brake control, and performance control. Check out the detailed spec sheet at the end of this piece.
Is the BMW Z4 worth consideration?
It is that multiple-car-garage kind of deal with BMW Z4. If you want a one-car garage, this is not the car you’d want if long road trips are your thing. The point here is simple – this car can be the best sports car in the world and that’d be fine. But that is where it asks you to limit your expectations. If you can resist the thought of considering it a tourer, this is the perfect car for you.
It is also the perfect car for BMW fans. Since the Z4 doesn’t have to be versatile car, this may very well be among the best driving modern BMWs. It doesn’t carry the weight and/or size penalty the M3 or the M4 carry. Helping matters is the car’s platform. Since the G29 platform doesn’t spawn a luxury car too, BMW could focus on refining the sporty aspects of the car. That luxury isn’t extended to something like the M6 Gran Coupe whose platform had to support various Rolls-Royces too.
The best part? It is a BMW that looks like a proper sports car than a regular BMW. That, in my eyes, is the biggest win for the new Z4. March 2019 can’t come any sooner.
BMW Z4 – Specs at a glance
|Specifications||BMW Z4 sDrive 20i/sDrive 30i||BMW Z4 M40i|
|Engine||DOHC, 16-valve, direct-injected, turbocharged, 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder petrol||DOHC, 24-valve, direct-injected, turbocharged, 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol|
|Transmission||8-speed Steptronic automatic||8-speed Steptronic automatic|
|Front Suspension||McPherson struts with coil-over dampers||McPherson struts with coil-over dampers|
|Rear Suspension||Multi-link (5-link) type with coil-over dampers||Multi-link (5-link) type with coil-over dampers|
|Front Brake||Disc brakes with floating single-piston calipers||Disc brakes with floating four-piston calipers|
|Rear Brake||Disc brakes with floating single piston calipers||Disc brakes with floating single piston calipers|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||52 litres||52 litres|