From £28,8807
A refined and enjoyable cabrio, but not one for those after a true sports car

Our Verdict

BMW Z4
The BMW Z4 has more comfort and added practicality, but has it gone soft?

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

6 August 2013

What is it?

The BMW Z4 sDrive18i convertible is the entry-level model in BMW’s facelifted Z4 range.

It uses a lower-output version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine found in the sDrive20i and sDrive28i, resulting in a less expensive list price of £27,615.

Opting for the sDrive18i saves approximately £2100 compared with the previous base model, the sDrive20i, but it also dispenses with some of the kit. Dual-zone climate control and rain-sensing wipers are, for example, optional instead of standard.

As well as the new engine option, the facelifted Z4 benefits from small cosmetic tweaks to keep it fresh among rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz SLK. These include white LED ‘corona’ rings around the headlamps and a smattering of chrome trim.

What's it like?

Under the BMW’s bonnet, you’ll find a 154bhp 2.0-litre ‘TwinPower Turbo’ engine, which features a single twin-scroll turbo and variable valve lift and cam timing control. The combination of these technologies allows it to generate 177lb ft between 1250rpm and 4400rpm.

Although its modest power output translates to a tame but acceptable 0-62mph time of 7.9sec, its wide spread of torque means that the BMW feels flexible and punchy, even in higher gears.

It sounds moderately potent, too, with frequent flutters from its wastegate, audible turbo spooling and a satisfying burble on overrun. 

There are no improvements in efficiency, though. The sDrive18i’s combined 41.5mpg and 159g/km of CO2 are the same as the 181bhp 20i’s and 241bhp 28i’s.

Drive is transmitted to the rear by a six-speed manual gearbox. It offers a decent selection of ratios and a short and swift shift action, allowing you to make good use of the power on offer, but its action is baulky and notchy.

The car we drove had several options, most notably 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive M Sport suspension, sports seats and a Comfort pack that includes a rear wind deflector.

Although the Z4 has sporting pretensions, it doesn’t quite deliver on the road. The steering is precise and has enough weighting to avoid feeling nervous, and there’s plenty of grip, but it lacks feedback or consistency as you apply lock. This can make the BMW feel a little disconcerting around high-speed corners.

The ride, although firm, is tolerable. The BMW Z4’s brakes are also strong and progressive, the clutch smooth and the throttle precise and easily modulated. The quality and layout of the cabin is good, too, the kit levels are acceptable and the folding hard-top drops quickly at the press of a button. In terms of usability, the Z4 is excellent.

Should I buy one?

Overall, the BMW Z4 sDrive18i is tempting option. For one thing, its stylish looks garner it plenty of attention. It’s also quite fun to drive, comfortable, relatively frugal, well built and refined – even with the top down at motorway speeds.

It’s ideal for those more interested in ease of use and appearance than outright performance. Be careful with options, though, or the final price will quickly spiral. You'll pay £27,615 for the standard model but our test car, with several options, was priced at £36,420.

Lewis Kingston

BMW Z4 sDrive 18i

Price £27,615; 0-62mph 7.9sec; Top speed 137mph; Economy 41.5mpg (combined); CO2 159g/km; Kerb weight 1505kg; Engine 4 cyls in line, 1997cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 154bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 177lb ft at 1250-4400rpm; Gearbox 6spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
9

6 August 2013

Can't quite see the point of this. You get a lower power engine than the 20i but no better economy or Co2. If you add back the options the saving is only about 5% of the 20i's price for a markedly inferior performing car.

You'd only go for this is the last £1500 was critical but, in that case, why not go for a GT86 or even a MX5

A34

6 August 2013

reckless fox wrote:

Can't quite see the point of this. ...

It's the *successful* hairdresser's car, a step up from the MX5 (which as *we* all know is also a real sports car). Or something for the Cheshire WAG. Or for the mistress...

6 August 2013

reckless fox wrote:

Can't quite see the point of this. You get a lower power engine than the 20i but no better economy or Co2. If you add back the options the saving is only about 5% of the 20i's price for a markedly inferior performing car.

I'd guess it's as much about being able to advertise a cheaper starting price than its rivals, plus there are always those looking to squeeze their small budget as much as possible to get into a car they cant really afford, and it might stretch to this but not a more expensive version.

There might also be some people thinking they can buy this car and spend a few hundred quid chipping it to get the higher horsepower of the 20i or 28i for less money.

6 August 2013

Well, most people on average add about 20% to there bill in options,so over £30K is what we're likely to pay.Sooner get something a year or 18mths old,with more kit,more warranty,and maybe more performance.

Peter Cavellini.

6 August 2013

Peter Cavellini wrote:

Well, most people on average add about 20% to there bill in options,so over £30K is what we're likely to pay.Sooner get something a year or 18mths old,with more kit,more warranty,and maybe more performance.

surely you can't be saying most people spend on average £3400'ish on extras for their Focus, Leon's etc

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

6 August 2013

xxxx@

Unless your buying a FocusRS,or a top of range of a particular make,yes, you wouldn't be adding this amount,but, once your over say £27-28K...?,then, yes, most add a few extra's, plus, the way options are in packs,sometimes you have to take a couple of packs to get the option you really wanted,dealers have these packages worked out so in most cases you have too take one you didn't want,so, 20% isn't an unrealistic figure.

Peter Cavellini.

6 August 2013

It looks dumpy, so it falls down on looks and it is heavier and slower than a 320D. 

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

6 August 2013

I must admit when I saw BMW Z4 as the title I didn't think I would like the look of it, plus I'm not a hairdresser.

Fox has a good point why not spend a bit less and buy the GT-86, now that does drive well. 

Choices choices theres also second hand options for 27-30K theirs loads to chose from, but you  know what that interior looks much more expensive, infact this little car looks much more expensive than it is and I expect that will be enough to persuade some to go for one.

 

 Offence can only be taken not given- so give it back!

6 August 2013

This car shows up the problem with the new BMW N20 petrol engine strategy - they are all the same. Not only is the economy and CO2 of this model the same as the 20i it is the same as the 28i as well because they are the same engine. Just buy the 18i and then get it chipped you'll soon be driving a "28i". BMW have abandoned engineering proper engines for enthusiasts and started producing cookie-cutter power units like Audi.

As for the handling as Autocar has identified the problem for the Z4 before in the full road test - in order to accommodate the folding hard top the rear suspension has to be relatively soft compared to the front (presumably to avoid damage to the folded roof and to allow the extra weight to be placed over the rear axle). This means that the rear (driving) wheels feel light and disconnected when cornering at anything other than cruising speeds. Not good for a sports car. Having owned an E89 Z4 the other issue to watch for with the folging hard top is rattling. Because BMW have engineered the car cheaply the roof sits on a plastic deck plate when it is up as this vibrates quite a lot the two halves of the roof rattle against each other and against the rear deck, windows and header rail. Not good or relaxing for a cruiser.

It seems that the introduction of the E89 Z4 could have marked the point at which BMW just gave up. Apart from the M cars. 

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Ford GT
    First Drive
    26 September 2017
    Ford’s racing-derived GT copes amazingly well with most UK roads. Unspectacular engine, sheer size and left-hand drive status aside, it’s got massive motorsport charm and appeal
  • Hyundai i30N
    First Drive
    25 September 2017
    We get behind the wheel of Hyundai's first crack at a hot hatchback, and the i30N doesn't disappoint
  • Alpina B4 S
    First Drive
    25 September 2017
    Our first UK drive in Alpina’s more potent sports coupé emphasises the breadth of ability on offer from this Bavarian alternative
  • Genesis G70
    First Drive
    22 September 2017
    Based on the Kia Stinger, Genesis' new G70 saloon shows plenty of promising signs that it could be a hit in Europe
  • Lamborghini Aventador S
    First Drive
    22 September 2017
    Still visceral and dramatic as ever, but does the vast number of mechanical changes and tweaks help make the Lamborghini Aventador S more engaging?