Greg Kable
18 April 2013

What is it?

The new BMW Z4 is an exercise in restraint. Four years after the second-generation roadster was added to the BMW line-up, it has received the most subtle of facelifts.

Among the changes are edgier bumpers, a new chrome styling feature within the front flanks and new wheel designs ranging in diameter from 17-inch up to optional 19-inch items, as worn by our test car.

The distinguishing styling elements of the new model are the altered grille and headlamps, which together serves to provide it with a slightly more expressive front-end appearance. Oh, and there’s now an awful piece of exposed grey Styrofoam that is visible through the grille, giving the new roadster anything but a premium air when viewed up close.

What is it like?

The turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine tested here in the Z4 sDrive35is is hardly new, but it remains the most compelling of the five engines with which it is produced with loads of low end torque and an eagerness to rev when the conditions allow. It sounds terrific, too: there’s a pleasing mechanical growl under load and a booming exhaust on the overrun.

The longitudinally mounted engine delivers a 335bhp – 20bhp more than the naturally aspirated 3.4-litre flat six petrol unit used in the Porsche Boxster S. In combination with a standard seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, it provides the BMW roadster with class leading straight line performance: the Z4 sDrive35is’s official 0-62mph time beats the Boxster S by 0.3sec at just 4.8sec.

To drive, the new Z4 sDrive35is is pretty much the same as its predecessor; it is a fun car in the right conditions with a rear-wheel-drive chassis that possesses a good deal of adjustability, so you can rely on the efforts of the engine to kick the tail out when the DSC (dynamic stability control) is switched off.

There remains some sign of scuttle shake on badly pockmarked roads, but for the most part the new BMW rides well. The weak point remains the steering, a speed-sensitive electro-mechancial system. While nicely weighted, it lacks consistency, proving extra direct turning off centre and becoming less direct as lock is applied. 

Should I buy one?

A minor refresh, then. One that’s unlikely to win the Z4 many new customers. But, at the same time, it’s not going to put anyone off the likeable roadster, either.

BMW is hoping the mid-life changes, as subtle as they are, will be enough to see the Z4 through to 2016 when an all-new, third-generation model is planned to appear. I’m not convinced they are. Not when the open-top competition, including the latest Porsche Boxster and new Jaguar F-type, is so strong.

BMW Z4 sDrive35is

Price £45,795; 0-62mph 4.8sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 31.4mpg (combined); CO2 210g/km; Kerb weight 1525kg; Engine 6 cyls, 2979cc, turbo, petrol; Power 335bhp at 5900rpm; Torque 369lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual clutch

Join the debate

Comments
14

I am not sure how the F Type

1 year 27 weeks ago

I am not sure how the F Type could ever be the competition for the Z4. This is more than £10k cheaper than than the cheapest F Type, and much faster. In truth its probably £25k less than an F Type with simelar performance and kit.

Run flat tyres

1 year 27 weeks ago

I think the Z4 has a reputation as being the BMW most upset by run flat tyres. Hopefully they've been ditched in this latest refresh. Alpina no longer modify the Z4 but Hartge still do. I'd look to them to solve some of the car's issues (tyres and no LSD). The BMW does appear more usable all year round than the Jaguar or Porsche with its slightly bigger boot and folding metal roof. I guess it comes down to what you'll use the car for, full-time driving or part-time fun.

IAD

artill wrote:I am not sure

1 year 27 weeks ago

artill wrote:

I am not sure how the F Type could ever be the competition for the Z4. This is more than £10k cheaper than than the cheapest F Type, and much faster. In truth its probably £25k less than an F Type with simelar performance and kit.

How is this much faster than the entry level F-Type when the Jag does 161mph and this only does 155mph?

answer for IAD

1 year 27 weeks ago

How is this much faster than the entry level F-Type when the Jag does 161mph and this only does 155mph?

The BMW is half a second faster to 60mph than the entry level F-type and probably would be faster too, I suspect that the 155mph top speed is a restricted one.

Steering wheel?

1 year 27 weeks ago

Having looked at numerous car interiors recently,my question is, why are steering wheels so boring?, grey circles,some with flat bottoms (no puns please!),they really are the forgotten interior maker.I'm not saying lets go back too Astrali or other wooden rimmed efforts, i'm just saying,it would be nice if the Steering Wheel was more appealing.The BMW?.......OH!.....top car!

Peter Cavellini.

Styrofoam

1 year 27 weeks ago

I wonder what this is for? I would hope that being so close to the engine it doesn't get too hot and possibly catch fire!

Peter Cavellini wrote: The

1 year 27 weeks ago

Peter Cavellini wrote:

The BMW?.......OH!.....top car!

I have to disagree. I hate these new Z4s. The DCT 'box is awful.

MikeSpencer wrote: I think

1 year 27 weeks ago

MikeSpencer wrote:

I think the Z4 has a reputation as being the BMW most upset by run flat tyres. Hopefully they've been ditched in this latest refresh. Alpina no longer modify the Z4 but Hartge still do. I'd look to them to solve some of the car's issues (tyres and no LSD). The BMW does appear more usable all year round than the Jaguar or Porsche with its slightly bigger boot and folding metal roof. I guess it comes down to what you'll use the car for, full-time driving or part-time fun.

 

I agree with that.  In Msport Trim it's not too far off your average lotus!  Personally the hardtop version is the prettier of the two and with its various refreshes its still a fairly handsome car.  Still I'd rather have 335i E93.

this with a nice manual

1 year 27 weeks ago

this with a nice manual gearbox, my type of car. How is the F type a rival? i would say it occupies no mans land between the SLK and SL

twitter @anikadamali, @notPCnairobi

Ha!

1 year 27 weeks ago

This is in no way an F Type rival, it costs well over 15k chepaer than the base F Type.

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Our Verdict

The BMW Z4 is a fine-looking two-seat roadster with indifferent driving dynamics

Driven this week