BMW Z4 driven

* New folding metal roof * Performance won't disappoint * Great to look at and to drive...

Author Avatar
What Car? Staff
25 March 2009

BMW Z4 driven

No one likes having to make a tough decision, so BMW has just made life for Z4 buyers easier. Gone are the days where you had to choose between the roadster and coupe versions there's now a single version that does the lot.

This best-of-both-worlds appeal is thanks to the curvaceous folding metal roof that replaces the old roadster's fabric effort. It takes around 20 seconds to complete the transformation from sleek coup to sexy convertible, and the car looks sensational in both guises.

The outside isn't the only pretty bit, either. The redesigned cabin looks and feels just as lush and as stylish as you'd expect, and it's bigger than before with more space in all directions.


For the Z4, though, posing power is pointless without horsepower. You won't be disappointed. The three straight-six petrol engines on offer include a 201bhp 2.5 and a 254bhp 3.0, but we drove the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre version with 302bhp. It's hard to figure out which is more exciting the eye-widening acceleration it gives or the brutal noise it makes.

Our car was made even quicker by the optional semi-auto transmission, which swaps between its seven ratios quickly and cleanly. The system also reduces your running costs by improving fuel economy and emissions, but adding it costs 1810.

On the road

It's not just the ballistic engine that makes the Z4 a riot to drive, though. All versions come with Drive Dynamic Control, which alters the responses of the throttle, steering and stability control depending on which of the three settings (Normal, Sport or Sport+) you select.

Spend 930 on the Adaptive M Suspension and you also get electronically controlled shock absorbers, which soften the ride in Normal mode and stiffen it in Sport+.

There's no doubt that everything feels sharper in the hardcore setting, but the handling is brilliant whichever mode you're in. Corners are munched up with massive grip and virtually zero body roll, while the back end feels amazingly planted. You have to really screw up your footwork to unsettle it.

Negatives? Well, the steering feels quick and meaty, but it could do with more feel. The ride is firm, even in the softest setting, and you won't get much in the boot with the roof down. It's nothing you can't live with, though. Start saving.

Our verdict:

Great to look at and great to drive new Z4 has got the lot.

BMW Z4Price: £28,645-£37,060
On sale: May
You'll like: Great handling; performance
You won't: Small boot; steering should have more feel