BMW Z4 convertible (2009 – ) review
Read the BMW Z4 convertible (2009 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 3.6 The BMW Z4 convertible offers striking looks, a fantastic cabin and a drive that few of its rivals can match. The latest model swaps a fabric roof for an electrically-folding metal version, that only goes to increase desirability further.
- Striking looks
- Award-winning engines
- Tin-top adds practicality
- Expensive options
- ‘Sport’ settings too harsh for daily use
- Thirsty petrol engines
At a glance
The 2009 BMW Z4 convertible has undergone much more than the obligatory wash and brush-up. The new car is a beauty and moves the two-seater on considerably. It’s now 148mm longer with the cabin sitting further back towards the rear axle. This gives the car a more grown-up and elegant appearance than the outgoing model. The biggest single development sees BMW move away from the fabric roofed offerings of the Porsche Boxster and Nissan 370Z, to adopt a folding hard-top roof like the Mercedes SLK. This is the only guise the Z4 is offered in – there is no soft top. The new retractable roof flips between lid-on and lid-off driving in 20 seconds.
The cabin of the new BMW Z4 has experienced big improvements in both quality and space. There is 44mm more headroom, 20mm more shoulder room and 43mm more elbow room which adds up to a very liveable roof-up environment, even over long-haul distances. There is enhanced visibility to benefit lid-down motoring, too.
Tin-top folding roofs usually mean compromising boot space and the BMW Z4 is no exception with the decent 310 litre boot shrinking to just 180 litres if you want the roof down. However, it is shaped well and storage in the cabin is good. There is a 10 litre glovebox, the door pockets fold inwards, there is storage between the driver and passenger and the addition of a through-loading system means the car can accommodate a set of golf clubs. Getting in and out has been made easier by doors which are 26mm longer.
Ride and handling
BMW says it aimed to broaden its rear-wheel drive roadster’s appeal by reducing the steering sensitivity at the initial turn and, for me, this is a key improvement. The introduction of Normal, Sport and Sport+ settings enable drivers to adjust the throttle and steering response to tailor the car’s personality to the journey. The Sport settings were fantastic for the first stage of our journey down the west coast of Scotland, but as soon as we began the long slog back to London the comfort of the Normal setting provided welcome relief.
The BMW Z4 convertible comes with a choice of three six-cylinder engines which are mated with a six-speed gearbox. The flagship 3 litre twin turbocharged develops 306Hp propelling the Z4 from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds, with a limited top speed of 155mph. The 258hp 3-litre Z4 sDrive 30i covers the sprint in 5.8 seconds (6.1 for the automatic) and also has a 155mph top speed with pulling power of 400Nm (295Ib/ft). The 204hp 2.5-litre Z4 sDrive 23i does it in 6.6 seconds (7.1 for the automatic) and can hit 151mph with pulling power of 250Nm (184Ib/ft).
The Z4 35i returns 30.1mpg and generates 219g/km CO2 (210g/km for the automatic). The 30i returns 33.2mpg and generates 199g/km CO2 (195g/km for the automatic). The 2.3i returns 33.2mpg and also generates 199g/km (192 g/km for the automatic). The three versions fall into car tax bands J and K which currently attract an annual £210 bill. The Z4 holds onto its value well and should be worth around 45 per cent of its original cost three years down the line.
The BMW Z4 is now in its third generation and the German manufacturer has a long history of roadster production. The new car also incorporates an award-winning engine in its flagship model. We experienced no problems during our drive.
Each model features front and side airbags. Also standard is Driver Stability Control, the umbrella name for a host of safety features including Anti-Lock Brakes, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Dynamic Traction Control. Even so, when Euro NCAP tested the car in 2015, the organisation said the car had not kept up with the advancements in Euro NCAP's rating scheme. Lacking crash avoidance technologies such as AEB, lane assist and speed assist systems that are so common on other popular BMW models, the Z4 received a three-star rating.
Standard features on the BMW Z4 sDrive 23i include 17-inch light alloy Star-spoke wheels, Xenon headlights, Drive Dynamic Control, CD/radio, two-zone control air conditioning and leather steering wheel. The Z4 sDrive3.0i adds leather upholstery, automatic windscreen wipers and headlights. The Z4 sDrive3.5i adds aluminium trim inside and out, electric seats and chrome door sill finish. Pricey options include automatic double-clutch transmission, Adaptive Sport Suspension which lowers the ride height by 10mm and satnav including idrive and12Gb of audio file storage.