|Positives: Refined and sporty looks, excellent soft top, superb sport seats have excellent support, solid power from the turbo four.|
|Negatives: Overly bulky steering wheel, not connected to the road the way a roadster should be, finicky wireless smartphone connectivity, horrible top down visibility.|
|Bottom Line: The Z4 sDrive30i is a pleasant car to drive, and it certainly looks the part of a modern roadster. There's power enough for most, but it lacks the ability to be pushed with confidence.|
The 255 hp sDrive30i is plenty quick, though it won't make you feel like you can do just about anything with it the way the Supra 3.0 does. It lacks the nervous, at-the-ready, power of the inline-six Supra with that superb BMW engine. The turbo-four, however, feels more powerful than it is. The car feels refined and sporty enough for most. It just lacks the ability to be pushed really hard because it's tough to tell where its handling limits are.
Ride Quality: It's not as harsh as the Supra, but it's still nicely firm.
Acceleration: 0-60 comes in a pretty quick 5.1 seconds, and the 8-speed Sport Automatic transmission is smooth and shifts rapidly. Of course, we'd rather have a stick shift, and the absence of it on a two-seat roadster is a missed opportunity.
Braking: The Z4's brakes modulate well, and pedal feel is very good. Strong stops going into the turns are effective and reassuring.
Steering: There's a good amount of effort in the steering, but more feedback would be welcomed.
Handling: The rear-wheel drive dynamics make the driving experience more fun (versus AWD), but it's tough to tell when the back end will start to break loose.
The infotainment system in the Z4 is a good one in terms of functionality and aesthetics, but it gets hampered by the wireless smartphone connection that doesn't want to work all too often, making it distracting and frustrating. At least there are very good physical switchgear controls where most have gone full touchscreen.
Infotainment System: The 10.3" screen is crisp, vivid, and easy to read. Navigating menus is superb with the iDrive controller in between the seats. On the downside, our iPhone kept disconnecting and at times could not even be found mid-drive. This is unacceptable for a German sporty car that costs sixty grand.
Controls: The fact that you can still run audio and climate using switchgear is excellent. The climate control button size is small, but we'd take it over touchscreen operation. The large cluster of buttons on the center console are great, and we like the fact that the Z4 has a traditional shift knob, despite the fact that it's automatic.
The Z4 gets plenty of looks when you drive around, and we were given compliments and numerous thumbs-up just about everywhere we went. The Z4 looks great in Portimao Blue with that Cognac leather interior, and we like the fact that the interior is more refined than its Japanese sibling.
Front: We're happy to see that the Z4 doesn't get the oversized and overly tall kidney grilles from other BMW models. Here, they're wide and framed in black thanks to the optional Shadowline trim. The headlights are nicely swept back for an aggressive look.
Rear: The back end actually looks better than the front fascia. The thin taillights nicely wrap around the sides. The small ducktail spoiler adds sportiness, and the twin round tailpipes finish off the roadster look.
Profile: The proportions are great, and the upswept body crease terminates beautifully at the taillights. We love the functional front fender vent, too. Even with the top up, the lines are still fluid and handsome.
Cabin: It's a good thing the Z4 doesn't have the Supra's cabin. Sure, it's fine for the Japanese model, but a Bimmer needs more. The materials are better here, and the leather looks great. The digital gauge cluster and the infotainment are stunning and nicely framed. The brushed aluminum trim everywhere adds refinement to the already attractive interior. The modern stitching in the seatbacks and headrests are very nice.
For a two-seat roadster, it's hard to imagine a more comfortable interior. The Z4's cabin has plenty of space for six-footers, and the sport seats are marvelous. The only major issue is the horrendous top-up visibility.
Front Seats: The Power M Sport Seats are superb. They provide excellent bolstering and the right amount of cushioning. The wide seatbacks are also very accommodating for the broad-shouldered.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The soft top provides excellent sound deadening, and there were no rattles of flapping with the top up. Top-down driving is well managed with great wind buffeting.
Visibility: With the top down, the visibility is quite good with only minor issues behind the thick cowls. When you put the convertible top up, peering over your shoulder results in a massive blind spot that could easily hide a vehicle from view. This is where great side mirror placement is key.
Climate: The climate system works fine, but we do wish the center vents were larger for more airflow. It's not a lot of space to heat and cool, so it's more than acceptable.
The Z4 is definitely in a niche segment (luxury convertibles), so the likelihood that it will crash tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA is slim. That said, it does have a decent set of standard safety features.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: The Z4 sDrive30i comes standard with Rollover Protection System, Active Guard with Frontal Collision Warning, and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Optional Tech: Our tester came with the optional $700 Driving Assistance Package that includes Active Driving Assistant, Active Blind Spot Detection, and Lane Departure Warning.
Two door roadsters aren't exactly capacious, but the Z4 is actually pretty good for its segment. There's a good amount of trunk space for short trips, and the interior has numerous, convenient small spaces.
Storage Space: There are small door pockets, a front cubby with the charging pad, and a nice split armrest compartment with twin cupholders and a small space in between. Finally, the hinged door compartment between the seats is a nice hideway space for small items.
Cargo Room: 9.9 cubic feet might not seem like a lot, but it's more than double what the Mazda Miata has, which is something.
The four cylinder turbo in the sDrive30i no doubt helps mileage compared to the inline-six in the M40i trim level. The result is decent gas mileage even for a sporty roadster. We drove in sport mode 100% of the time to maximize the available power.
Observed: 26.1 mpg.
Distance Driven: 153 miles.