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?'

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the BMW range

Driven this week

  • Hyundai Nexo FCEV
    This is the new Hyundai Nexo FCEV
    First Drive
    20 February 2018
    The new Nexo SUV is a showcase for both hydrogen power and autonomous tech. Does that make it an appealing purchase?
  • Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer
    This is the Vauxhall Insignia GSi Sports Tourer
    First Drive
    19 February 2018
    The Insignia GSi is Vauxhall's new performance flagship. Can this diesel estate version offer both pace and practicality?
  • Honda Civic Type R
    First Drive
    19 February 2018
    It’s a warm welcome to this steaming hot hatch. But is it too fiery for Britain’s roads?
  • Aston Martin DB11 Volante
    The DB11 Volante chassis' torsional rigidity is 22kN/deg, down from 34kN/deg on the coupe – but substantially more than the 14.7kN/deg of the DB9 Volante
    First Drive
    19 February 2018
    The DB11 Volante is the first convertible variant of Aston Martin's new model generation. How does it compare to the likes of the new Ferrari Portofino?
  • BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo front
    The new BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo
    First Drive
    16 February 2018
    The top-of-the-line 6 Series Gran Turismo has arrived in the UK, but does a more potent engine increase its unusual appeal?