The second generation BMW Z4 was introduced in the belief that its bigger dimensions, a folding hard-top (its predecessor had a fabric roof) and adjustable steering, throttle and chassis settings were essential ingredients to make it appeal to a wider audience. Even the plush cabin now offers more room and better visibility for those wanting a tourer as well as a roadster. This is a very grown up kind of car.

The BMW Z4 is sold with a narrow range of high-output engines. The smallest in the line-up is a 2.0-litre, which is sold with outputs of 181bhp or 242bhp. Then there's a six-cylinder 2.5-litre unit that offers 201bhp, and the rest of the range is filled by a 3.0-litre engine that’s available in three states of tune: 255bhp, 302bhp and 335bhp.

As is the new norm with BMW, the Z4’s nomenclature bears no relation to engine size; the sDrive18i, 20i and 28i get the 2.0-litre units, the sDrive23i gets the 2.5-litre and the three 3.0-litre models are badged sDrive30i, sDrive35i and sDrive35is.

So performance is a top priority for the Z4. But is the multitude of new technologies and the arrival of a folding hard-top really enough to make the second generation Z4 live up to BMW’s claims of a car that can 'morph from comfortable yet sporty cruiser through to outright performance car?'

Top 5 Convertibles

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    20 October 2016
    New S5 Sportback is more spacious, better to drive and offers a calmer ride than before, but rivals offer greater involvement
  • Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy
    First Drive
    19 October 2016
    Mildly revised hot hatch is enjoyable on UK roads but continues to play second fiddle to the Ford Fiesta ST
  • 2016 Smart fortwo Brabus cabrio xclusive
    First Drive
    18 October 2016
    Mechanical upgrades make the Smart Fortwo Brabus cabrio better to drive, but it’s too pricey to recommend
  • Citroen C3 1.2 Puretech 82
    First Drive
    14 October 2016
    Not a class leader objectively, but the C3's funky good looks and a swish interior give it subjective appeal. Needs the more powerful petrol, though
  • BMW M140i
    First Drive
    13 October 2016
    Rear-drive balance, a smooth six-pot motor and a beautifully judged eight-speed gearbox: the M140i is as rewarding as the car it replaces