Verdict: Bury the past. The new Z4 ups the fun caliber and delivers achievement to bout its looks.
Versus the competition: The best absolute adversary to the Z4 is the accompanying Toyota Supra; the BMW offers agnate performance, but with a added adequate autogenous and above technology — and a bulk tag to match.
Related: 2019 BMW Z4: Everything You Charge to Know
After a two-year hiatus, the BMW Z4 makes an unanticipated, but not unwelcome, return. For a while it looked like the Z4 was asleep and buried; the auto convertible was aftermost awash as a 2016 model, and its annihilation didn’t affect abundant grief. The old archetypal was accomplished but didn’t drive able-bodied abundant to be memorable, and it had some awkward styling.
Fast advanced to 2019, aback the Z4 reappeared acknowledgment to a accord amid BMW and Toyota that resulted in a sports car for anniversary company. Toyota reincarnated the Supra and BMW brought aback the Z4 auto — this time with a bendable top, absolute weight antithesis and a affiance of greater sportiness.
There are two Z4 trim levels, with the bigger aberration beneath the hood: The sDrive 30i appearance a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder, while the sDrive M40i comes with a turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder. The sDrive M40i additionally comes with a few achievement upgrades that are alternative on the sDrive 30i — and one in particular, the Track Administration Package, makes a big difference.
My aboriginal aftertaste of the new Z4 came active a 2019 Z3 30i about Palm Springs, Calif., for bisected a day, sans the Track Administration Package. It was a big advance over the approachable Z4, but I begin it defective some spark. It was accomplished for 90 percent of the time, but that aftermost 10 percent — area you absolutely appetite to advance and adore a car — is the acumen you buy a sports car. That Z4 was a acceptable car to drive on a brilliant day, but not one you’d go out of your way to acquisition a alley on which to amplitude it.
Since again I’ve spent a anniversary apiece with a 2019 30i and a 2020 M40i, both able with the Track Administration Package, and my apperception has changed. (According to BMW, agreeable and appraisement from 2019 to 2020 are banausic for the Z4 30i.)
The Track Administration Package is $2,450 on the 30i and accepted on the M40i. It includes M Sport brakes, an adaptive abeyance and an M Sport cogwheel — and, as stated, it makes a difference. The aboriginal 30i I activated had aloof the adaptive suspension, and it got ambiguous as I pushed it harder. The council and abeyance didn’t feel close abundant to action the affectionate of acknowledgment I wanted.
With the Track Administration Package, the car feels abundant bluff — not through any added compactness from the shocks (that I could detect), but from the cogwheel upgrade. That advancement allows the rear arbor to put bottomward adeptness added crisply on bend exits as it shuffles torque to the appropriate places, and it gives the car a added antic attributes that’s actual welcome.
I still appetite a beard added acknowledgment from the council wheel, which gets a blow ablaze at the limit, but the adeptness to burke through turns with added aplomb helps accomplish up for it. The above brakes are additionally welcome; the car slows bottomward with the aforementioned adjacency with which it accelerates.
These upgrades are accepted on M40i models, and the car exhibits abundant the aforementioned behavior as the 30i — aloof with a lot added power.
Cars.com photo by Brian Wong
Both the 30i and 40i flash in this department. Their engines are akin to an eight-speed automated manual and rear-wheel drive, but there’s a big aberration in adeptness output. The 30i’s four-cylinder makes 255 application and 295 pounds-feet of torque — an abnormally clear figure. This is a accustomed powertrain, and it’s acceptable in … well, appealing abundant every BMW vehicle, but it’s abnormally acceptable here. The engine’s advanced powerband and the admiration of the manual aback alleged aloft with alacrity are absolute highlights of the 30i.
The M40i, however, is on a altered level, artlessly because of its adeptness difference: 382 hp and 369 pounds-feet of torque. It changes the attributes of the car from article ablaze and active into article added sinister, with a bustling soundtrack to match. Any burke ascent with the settings dialed up to Sport or Sport Plus is met with a adorable burst from the exhaust. With the top bottomward for abounding effect, it’s addicting.
BMW says the M40i will go from 0-60 mph in aloof 3.9 seconds, but it feels quicker from the seat. It bursts off the band and accuse forward, snapping off accouterment and abrogation a billow of dust and babble abaft it. This powertrain is familiar, as well; we afresh activated it in the BMW M340i, which answerable from 0-60 mph in 3.89 seconds. That cardinal will be lower in the lighter Z4, and I aboveboard accede with the boundless appraisal that BMW has underrated this engine’s power. (Same affair goes for the Supra.)
Though there’s a big aberration in performance, there isn’t in ammunition economy: EPA ratings are 24/32/27 mpg city/highway/combined for the 30i, 24/31/26 mpg for the M40i.
The Z4 is a two-seat roadster, so amplitude will never be superfluous. I did appreciate, though, that alike admitting the cockpit is small, there’s a appropriate bulk of bench travel; I had no agitation award an ideal active position. That’s beneath accepted than you’d anticipate in low-slung sports cars like this. I’m a fan of ablaze interiors, so the Vernasca Magma Red covering upholstery in the M40i acquainted custom-built for my tastes — it comes as a allotment of the Executive Package, contrarily it costs $1,700 by itself.
A brace of 10.25-inch screens appear standard, one confined as the apparatus animate and the added as a axial touchscreen that can additionally be controlled via a rotary ambassador on the animate amid the seats. The awning in advanced of the disciplinarian has mostly anchored advice and bound customization options, and I’m not abiding it adds abundant — clashing Audi’s abundant Virtual Cockpit system. The added screen, however, is added promising; it’s canted against the disciplinarian to accomplish it easier to see and reach, and BMW’s multimedia systems acquire appear a continued way in both account and functionality. There are a lot of airheaded to get through, so it does appear with a bit of a acquirements curve, but I was actual adequate with it by the end of a anniversary (let abandoned two).
Wireless Apple CarPlay comes standard, and admitting BMW already planned to allegation owners a annual cable fee to use CarPlay afterwards the aboriginal year, the aggregation has aback absolved that back. Owners of 2019 and 2020 BMWs will now get it free; the change will appear seamlessly — whether owners active up for a cable above the aboriginal year or not. Android Auto users, however, are still out of luck, as that isn’t offered on any BMW articles (including Mini).
The Z4 doesn’t action abundant value. It doesn’t acquire abundant in the way of accepted assurance equipment, added than advanced automated emergency braking with banal detection. Adaptive cruise control, lane change abetment and a Back-Up Assistant are available.
The 30i starts at $50,695, while the M40i starts at $64,695 (prices accommodate destination charges). The M40i includes the capacity of both the Track Administration and M Sport bales standard, in accession to the above engine. With options, my analysis cartage both stickered abundant higher: $63,545 for the 30i and $73,295 for the M40i.
The new auto is a boastful acknowledgment for the Z4; it looks and drives bigger — two things you absolutely charge from a roadster. Admitting I didn’t absence it abundant while it was gone, I’m animated it’s back.
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A accepted catechism I get is how the Z4 compares to the Toyota Supra, which I additionally had the advantage of reviewing (tough life, I know). There are a lot of similarities, which is to be expected; the M40i and Supra acquire the aforementioned platform, the aforementioned agent and the aforementioned transmission. Admitting anniversary aggregation handled affability elements by themselves, there’s a lot of overlap, and in this case that’s a positive: That agent is fantastic, and both cars feel underrated in agreement of adeptness and how bound they accelerate.
There is some aurora amid the two aback it comes to handling. Adding a roof to the car makes the Supra stiffer, and it’s a bit added antic as a result. It’s easier to adhere the appendage out, and the council is added dialed in. The Z4 is no slouch in this department, though; it’s aloof a beard abaft the Toyota.
The Z4 makes up arena inside: bigger screens, bigger abstracts and bigger ergonomics. The Supra’s roof dips actual low up advanced — so low that taller drivers won’t be able to see able-bodied out the advanced of the car (let abandoned the back). A BMW arrangement admiral the Supra’s multimedia, as well, but agreeable has been pulled out of it; there are card items that don’t advance anywhere.
I’d accord the Supra a slight bend in agreement of performance, but the Z4 a gigantic bend in agreement of amenities and animal comforts — admitting it’s an bend you’ll pay for: The Supra starts at $50,945, about $14,000 beneath than the M40i.
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