BMW’s Z4 roadster is a two-seater convertible sports car, just right for sunny days out and nipping around through town
Words by Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto Trader
The Z4 been around for a while but this new version is the best-looking yet. It’s not the most powerful convertible sports car out there but that also means it’s more affordable than lots while still bearing the desirable BMW badge.
"Cool and dangerous" is how Brooklyn Beckham described the Z4 in a photo shoot he did with it in Coachella Valley in the States earlier this year. We wouldn't go that far, but we do love the looks: our test car was painted Misano Blue, a lovely cobalt blue reminiscent of high summer beach days, but with a black fabric roof and black leather interior to keep things serious.
We also had a lot of M-badge styling on the car for a more sporty appearance. M is BMW’s high-performance sports division, but you can specify the styling without getting any actual engineering changes, so we had M seatbelts with the badge’s trademark blue and red stitching, M black double-spoke wheels, M sports steering wheel and high-gloss black bits of metalwork.
Inside, there’s a surprising amount of leg and shoulder room for the two occupants, and a cargo net running the width of the car behind the two seats for storing purses, sunglasses and small bags, plus a lockable cubby hole. Storage between the seats isn’t great, however.
BMW’s iDrive infotainment systems remains one of the best on the market, along with Audi’s equivalent - both are simple to use but full of detail, smartly presented on a long touchscreen. Information like maps and radio stations can be displayed on the digital screen behind the steering wheel. We had wireless charging for phones, which is becoming indispensable, because it does away with the need to remember where you last left your charging lead, and frees the cabin of a trailing connector.
We also had a very funky head-up display: when the car’s in Sport mode, the head-up display with your speed also shows the revs climbing, for a kind of F1 vibe.
Our car also had Wifi hotspot prep, a great Harman/Kardon sound system and steering wheel controls for all the major functions.
With the roof up, this is a surprisingly quiet car. And if you’re worried about space for all your belongings inside, just open that boot and worry no more: we fitted in a week’s shopping and our large Labrador’s folded crate, which the dog sitter was amazed by.
The suspension is soft enough in standard mode for this car to be your daily commuter, no problem. Especially with the automatic transmission: you can sit for hours in slow-moving traffic and feel refreshed when you arrive.
We tested the 2.0-litre engine with 197 horsepower: there is a 3.0-litre V6 if it’s speed and noise and more grunt you’re after. However, we feel the sweeter, lighter, perkier 2.0-litre engine is more suited to this sweet, agile sports car, plus you’ll get more miles to the gallon, pollute the planet a tiny bit less and potentially pay less insurance, too.
Also, if you feel like sports cars should have at least 200 horsepower, try this one for size - the smooth way it delivers the power makes it feel like there is more oomph than the paperwork suggests. It’s a very fine engine.
Given all the above, the list price of £38,420 seems more than reasonable. Our test car actually came in at £44,650 which just goes to show how dangerous it can be to get carried away with the options catalogue. Buyer beware, is all we’d say. Remember, the joy of a sporty two-seater is in the raw thrills and spills, so don’t go overloading it with stuff - much of the fun is in the light weight. As in life.
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