Retractable hardtops have largely gone out of fashion with sports car manufacturers, the reason being that the weight penalty of such a complex mechanism is not conducive to engaging dynamics.
That’s a shame, really, because such an option allows you to switch at will between coupé and cabriolet yet suffer none of the noise or fragility penalties of a regular soft-top. This was demonstrated perfectly by the previous BMW Z4, which succeeded both roadster and fixed-roof models.
Happily, this model, codenamed E89 and produced between 2009 and 2016, maintains a strong showing on the second-hand market, and buying one need not make you blow your top.
The Z4 is an enticing prospect as an all-weather sports car, and its diverse array of drivetrains serves to enhance its appeal. There was no all-guns-blazing Z4 M this time, but pleasingly potent straight-six options came in the form of the 204bhp sDrive23i, the 258bhp sDrive30i, the 306bhp sDrive35i and the top-rung sDrive35iS, which made a Porsche Boxster-rivalling 335bhp so could send the Z4 from 0-62mph in 4.8sec.
However, the Z4 is equally at home as a relaxed Sunday driver, and it can be had with less demanding 2.0-litre four-cylinder powertrains, ranging in output from 152bhp to 238bhp.
You might consider buying a BMW sports car with a turbo four nothing short of a sin, but if you plan on using a Z4 daily – which you no doubt could do – these slightly more frugal four-bangers will let you pass more petrol stations, albeit while emitting a somewhat less attractive engine note.
As for the Z4’s party piece, the roof could be raised or lowered in 20 seconds – a feat that you should ensure is still possible with any potential purchase. Trouble here isn’t to be trifled with: dodgy sensors and inaccurate parameters can cause all sorts of issues, potentially leaving you top-down in the rain and with a sizeable repair bill on the cards.