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Used test: Audi TT vs BMW Z4

Buy either of these two drop-top sports cars at a year old and you'll save a bundle of cash, but which is the one to put on your driveway? We've got the answer.....

Used Audi TT vs BMW Z4

The Contenders

Audi TT Roadster 45 TFSI S line S tronic

  • List price when new £40,355
  • Price today £27,000*
  • Available from 2014-present

The TT Roadster is the drop-top version of one of our very favourite sports cars.

BMW Z4 sDrive30i M Sport

  • List price when new £42,440
  • Price today £30,800*
  • Available from 2019-present

The Z4 aims to put driving pleasure firmly on the agenda, but does it cut the mustard?

*Price today is based on a 2019 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

Without wishing to sound too money-minded, the great thing about buying a car used is the handsome saving you pocket over buying it new. 

Take these two drop-top sportsters. Saunter into an Audi showroom and buy this lovely TT Roadster new and in this trim it’d set you back just over £40,000. Buy it at a year old, as we’re testing it here, and it’ll cost you just £27,000. The same applies to the granite-jawed BMW Z4 we’re going to pitch against it. New, £42,000; a year old, £30,000. That’d enough of a saving to buy yourself another car. 

But there’s more to these two than just money. They are fast, open-top cars expected to titillate the senses. The TT has long been one of our favourites, and a multiple What Car? award-winner. The Z4 is rather different. The old model never felt like a proper driver’s car to us, but this all-new version hit the roads last year and so far we’ve been quite impressed by it. 

This is the sDrive30i M Sport version, featuring a 255bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine driving the rear wheels. Meanwhile, the 242bhp 2.0-litre petrol in the TT 45 TFSI corresponds neatly with our Z4. Both are fitted with automatic gearboxes, so the biggest differentiator is the TT’s quattro four-wheel-drive system.

Which should you choose? Read on to find out. 

What are they like to drive? 

Both engines are four-cylinder units, so don’t expect them to sing enchantingly like a straight-six or a V8. But while the TT sounds eager and spirited, the Z4 drones drearily. There’s nothing but a fag paper between their relative pace, though, whether measured off the line or kicking down for an overtake. Both will see off all but the quickest hot hatchbacks.

Audi TT Roadster front three quarters

The TT feels livelier at times, mainly because its seven-speed dual-clutch ’box responds faster and pings quicker through its gears than the Z4’s slurring, sluggish eight-speed auto. Both gearboxes respond eagerly if you use the steering wheel-mounted paddles to shift manually, though.

The TT handles, steers and stops better than the Z4, too. Take the brakes, for instance. While the TT’s are progressive, allowing you to stop smoothly, the Z4’s are grabby and lack initial bite, inspiring little confidence and making it all too easy to come to an abrupt halt in traffic. At least they stop you quickly, helped by our car’s M Sport Plus Package, a £1950 option when the car was new, which includes 19in wheels shod with wider, grippier tyres.

The TT is a doddle to place accurately on the road, thanks to steering that’s well-judged for weight and speed of response, whereas the Z4’s gives you little sense of connection. Past a quarter of a turn of lock, there’s an absurd ramping up in the speed of the Z4’s steering, too.


Included in the Z4’s M Sport Plus Package is adaptive suspension, but this is a mixed blessing. The softer Comfort mode allows too much body bounce on undulating roads and more lean than the TT through corners, but switch to the stiffer Sport setting and it becomes too unforgiving for all but the smoothest surfaces. The TT – on standard suspension – is far better controlled over any bump, on any road, and feels altogether lighter and more agile. Its tyres always grip the road better under hard acceleration, too, although there is joy to be had from feeling the Z4’s rear end squirm under power out of corners. Yes, the TT thuds more over sharp potholes and expansion joints, while the softer Z4 is more cosseting around town. Yet the TT’s ride is sophisticated enough that you’ll never think it harsh, and its body also shakes and shudders less over bumps.

With their electrically operated soft-tops in place, the Z4 suffers from appreciably less road and wind noise at motorway speeds. But with the roofs down – a process that takes 10 seconds in the TT and 12 in the Z4 – there’s less wind buffeting in the TT.