The BMW Z4 is one of the stalwarts of its class.
The drop-top sports car is now in its third generation, with the BMW having forged a wheel-to-wheel battle with the Porsche Boxster during each. The Porsche has traditionally been the critic’s choice, but the latest Z4 gets closer to besting its rival than ever before.
For this model, introduced in 2018, BMW continued the Z4’s traditional front-engine, rear-drive layout, but it was designed around a cloth roof, which returned for the first time since the initial Z4’s introduction in 2002.
A 50:50 weight distribution and its lighter roof improved handling, while boot space was increased by 50% to 281 litres.
Three engines are available, starting with a choice of two turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrols. The entry-level sDrive20i produces 194bhp while the sDrive30i offers a boost to 255bhp. Not enough? You will want the turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six, then, which pumps out 335bhp and 369lb ft for the range-topping, M Performance M40i. Each engine gets a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox.
There are three trim levels, all well equipped. Sport kicks off with 18in alloy wheels, cruise control, climate control, heated seats, adaptive LED headlights and BMW’s Live Cockpit iDrive infotainment system.
M Sport brings a more aggressive look by way of revised bodywork, upgraded alloys and Shadowline trim. It also gains M Sport (read firmer) suspension settings.
The top-rung M40i burnishes the car’s sporting credentials with lightweight 19in alloys, adaptive suspension, an electronic differential and upgraded brakes, as well as electrically adjustable seats.
The Z4 sure has pulling power: even the 20i can race from 0-62mph in 6.6sec. But compare it with the Boxster and it’s left behind by 1.5sec.
The M40i shaves the time down to 4.5sec, plus it emits a more inspiring note (especially with the roof down), thanks to that glorious straight six.