The BMW Z4 does many things well. To our eyes and those of many people we meet, it looks a million dollars. The cabin is designed thoughtfully and its perceived quality is beyond criticism. It’s reasonably spacious, too, although the boot isn’t overly generous.
Little wonder BMW sees no need for a coupé-only version of this car, because this Z4 is so capable at swapping its feel between open-top sportster and snug coupé.
Dynamically, the Z4 is a tale of two halves. The drivetrain is excellent to its core, whichever model you choose. Engines are smooth and free-revving, with plenty of power and excellent response. And for the level of performance on offer (we’re talking the beating of the old Z4M, here) economy and emissions are up to usual BMW standards, which means impressive.
However, it’s hard to escape the feeling that there’s something missing. The Z4’s steering isn’t intuitive, and although the chassis will ultimately exhibit fine balance and ability, getting it to reveal its talents is a less enjoyable exercise than it should be. It doesn’t ride well enough, either; at times it’s just plain uncomfortable, whichever model you choose or whatever setting you have the adaptive suspension set to.
The Porsche Boxster still has the beating of the Z4 as far as we’re concerned, while, at times, the Mercedes SLK also offers a better blend of comfort and thrills. A roadster should, regardless of your speed, make you feel good about driving it, and somehow the Z4 misses that mark.