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2020 BMW Z4 Review

The 2020 BMW Z4 has a strong engine lineup, refined handling, a posh cabin, and an above-average predicted reliability rating. It ranks near the bottom of the luxury sports car class, but that has more to do with how competitive this segment is rather than any faults with the Z4.

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful engines
  • Good fuel economy for the segment
  • Comfortable cabin with intuitive tech features
  • Roomy cabin and trunk for the class
  • Handling isn’t as sharp as top rivals

Rankings & Research

The 2020 BMW Z4's #13 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Sports Cars category. Currently the BMW Z4 has a score of 8.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 12 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.0

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.3
Performance: 8.2
Interior: 7.8
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the BMW Z4 a Good Car?

Yes, the BMW Z4 is a good sports car. This two-seat convertible is agile and fun to drive on winding roads with the top down, but it's still comfortable enough to tackle the daily commute on less-than-perfect city streets. A muscular and fuel-efficient turbocharged engine lineup gives this roadster plenty of punch. The Z4 also boasts a handsome and spacious interior with lots of standard features, including an easy-to-use infotainment system and safety tech like forward collision warning.

Should I Buy the BMW Z4?

The BMW Z4 is a great option in the luxury sports car class, but it’s not the only standout. Before you buy, you should test drive a few alternatives. The Porsche 718 Boxster offers an exciting driving experience that few convertibles can replicate. The all-new Toyota Supra is mechanically similar to the Z4, but it has different styling and is available exclusively as a coupe.

On the other hand, look to more-affordable nonluxury sports cars like the Fiat 124 Spider and Mazda MX-5 Miata if you can’t justify the Z4’s prices, which start at almost $50,000. The starting price of each nonluxury roadster is a little more than half of the Z4’s base MSRP.

Compare the Z4, Boxster, and Supra »

Should I Buy a New or Used BMW Z4?

BMW redesigned the Z4 roadster for the 2019 model year. This new Z4 generation was initially available in one trim level, the 254-horsepower Z4 sDrive30i. For 2020, BMW adds a sport-tuned M40i model with a 382-horsepower turbocharged six-cylinder engine to the lineup, while the base model carries over unchanged. Opt for the 2019 Z4 if you’re only interested in the sDrive30i base model; you could save a few thousand dollars in the process.

You could save even more by shopping for the previous-generation Z4, which spanned the 2009 through 2016 model years. These roadsters offer strong engine performance and a similarly cushioned ride, but because of the added weight of their retractable hardtop roofs, they don’t feel as athletic as the newer Z4s. The new Z4 has a soft top instead.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2014 Z4, 2015 Z4, and 2016 Z4 reviews to help make your decision. Also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2019, and 2020 Z4 »

We Did the Research for You: 12 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 12 BMW Z4 reviews, as well as hard data points like reliability scores and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible. This review uses applicable research and data from all model years of the current Z4 generation, which began with the 2019 model.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has decades of experience in the auto industry. Though we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To maintain objectivity, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies.

How Much Does the BMW Z4 Cost?

The 2020 BMW Z4 has a base price of $49,700. That’s on par with class rivals like the Audi TT roadster and Mercedes-Benz SLC, but it’s less expensive than competitors like the Porsche Boxster and Jaguar F-Type convertible, which start at $59,000 and $64,700, respectively. BMW Z4 prices climb to around $64,000 for the higher-output M40i model.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local BMW dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our BMW deals page.

BMW Z4 Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: BMW Z4 or Porsche Boxster?

The BMW Z4 and Porsche 718 Boxster are both great convertibles. They’re rewarding to drive, stylish inside and out, and loaded with all the latest gadgetry. The differences are in the details, though. You should opt for the Boxster if performance is your top priority. The Z4 may be athletic, but the Boxster’s handling is on another level, and it pairs these driving dynamics with engines that feel a bit more energetic. The Boxster is also available with a manual transmission, which is something you can't get in the Z4.

On the other hand, go with the Z4 if value is more important to you. The Z4 is $9,000 cheaper than the Boxster in its stock configuration, and that difference grows to about $20,000 in higher trim levels. The Z4 also has a much larger trunk, making it more practical for daily driving.

Which Is Better: BMW Z4 or Mercedes-Benz SLC?

On paper, the Mercedes-Benz SLC looks like a close match for the BMW Z4, both in terms of price and performance, but that’s not quite the case. The SLC has an older design (an evolution of the 2016 SLK roadster), and it becomes evident when looking at the dated cabin styling and so-so interior materials. The Mercedes rides calmly over most road surfaces, but it doesn’t maneuver as gracefully as the BMW. Stick with the Z4.

Which Is Better: BMW Z4 or Toyota Supra?

The Toyota Supra is a fixed-roof coupe, while the Z4 is a soft-top roadster. BMW and Toyota co-developed the Z4 and Supra, so these cars have a lot in common, from the transmission to the infotainment system. Both cars also start at around $50,000. That said, the styling and badges aren’t the only differences between these models.

The Supra’s handling is a bit sharper, and the car is backed by a longer five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Supra also comes standard with a potent six-cylinder engine, whereas the Z4 has a standard four-cylinder. You can get this six-cylinder engine with the BMW, but it increases the price by about $14,000 more. These are two great sports cars, but the Supra provides more thrills for less money.

Compare the Z4, Boxster, and Supra »

Z4 Interior

How Many People Does the Z4 Seat?

The BMW Z4 seats two people. The seats are nicely cushioned, and their large side bolsters provide good hip-hugging support. The driving position is comfortable as well, and the cabin has ample head- and legroom, even for taller occupants.

The Z4’s power-folding soft top retracts in about 10 seconds. A wind deflector comes standard, and it keeps the interior fairly quiet when the top is down.

Standard amenities include 14-way power-adjustable seats and synthetic leather upholstery, which BMW calls SensaTec. Options include leather upholstery and heated seats with additional lumbar adjustments.

Z4 and Child Car Seats

Like many two-seat sports cars, the Z4 roadster does not have LATCH car-seat connectors. We do not recommend installing a car seat in a vehicle without rear seats.

Z4 Interior Quality

The Z4’s interior might not wow you with its conservative styling and grayscale color palette, but the cabin is put together nicely, and its design should age well. Most surfaces are dressed in padded leatherette upholstery, soft plastic, and metal trim. There are some hard black plastics, but they at least feel substantial and well-made.

Z4 Cargo Space

The Z4 has 9.9 cubic feet of trunk space, which is pretty good for a convertible sports car. Better still, the soft top doesn’t take up any trunk space when it’s folded, so you don't have to worry about choosing between cargo room or an open-air experience.

Z4 Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Z4 comes standard with a 10.2-inch iDrive infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay, navigation, Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, and a digital gauge cluster. This infotainment system is quite user-friendly, thanks to its simple menus, crisp graphics, and variety of controls. For instance, you can control the system using the dashboard buttons, by tapping and swiping on the touch screen, by using a knob and touchpad on the center console, or by speaking voice commands. The one complaint critics have is that the screen is hard to read in direct sunlight.

Available features include satellite radio, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and a wireless device charging.

Read more about interior »

Z4 Performance

Z4 Engine: All Charged Up

The BMW Z4 is available with two engine options: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 254 horsepower (30i) and a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder with 382 horsepower (M40i). Both are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive.

The 30i model’s four-cylinder feels stronger than its horsepower rating suggests, and it confidently surges the Z4 up to speed. Sprinting from zero to 60 mph takes just over five seconds. The M40i’s straight-six feels a bit smoother and pulls harder at mid-to-high rpm. It also slices a second off the sprint to 60 mph, but it raises the Z4’s price tag by $14,000. For most buyers, the 30i model provides all the thrills one could want, but at a more palatable price.

While it is true that you can’t get the Z4 with a manual transmission, it almost doesn’t matter because the eight-speed automatic is so refined and engaging. Shifts are quick and smooth when the gearbox is left to its own devices. If you want to manually change gears, simply pull back on the steering wheel’s shift paddles, and the transmission rifles through its gears with a sense of urgency.

Z4 Gas Mileage: Infrequent Fill-Ups

The Z4 sDrive30i gets an EPA-estimated 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. That’s one of the best fuel economy ratings in this segment. There isn’t much of a gas-mileage penalty if you opt up to the six-cylinder, either, as the Z4 M40i gets an estimated 24/31 mpg city/highway.

Z4 Ride and Handling: An Ideal Balance

The BMW Z4 isn’t the sportiest car to drive in this class, but that actually works in its favor. The suspension is taut enough to keep the car stable and composed through corners, yet the dampers still have ample cushioning to soak up bumps and dips in the road. This balance of comfort and agility makes the Z4 a lot more enjoyable to drive than some of its more-hardcore and purist rivals, like the Alfa Romeo 4C.

The Z4’s strong brakes and quick steering also deserve praise, though some critics say the steering doesn’t provide enough feedback. For most drivers, though, this won’t be an issue.

Read more about performance »

Z4 Reliability

Is the BMW Z4 Reliable?

The 2020 BMW Z4 has a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

BMW Z4 Warranty

The BMW Z4 is covered by a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Z4 Safety

Z4 Crash Test Results

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2020 BMW Z4. This is typical for high-end luxury vehicles.

Z4 Safety Features

The Z4 comes standard with a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection. Available safety features include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, a head-up display, adaptive pivoting headlights with automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors, and hands-free parallel park assist.

Read more about safety »

Z4 Dimensions and Weight

The Z4 roadster is 14.2 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,287 to 3,457 pounds, depending on how it's configured.

Where Is the 2020 BMW Z4 Built?

BMW builds the 2020 Z4 in Austria.

Which BMW Z4 Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 BMW Z4 roadster is available in two trim levels: sDrive30i and sDrive M40i. The main difference between these models is found under the hood. The 30i has a four-cylinder engine, whereas the M40i has a six-cylinder.

We think the base model Z4 sDrive30i is the best pick for most shoppers. It has a lot of standard convenience features, and despite its smaller engine, it still offers plenty of get-up-and-go. Plus, it’s about $14,000 less expensive.

BMW Z4 sDrive30i

The entry-level Z4 sDrive30i has an MSRP of $49,700, and it comes equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 254 horsepower, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive.

Standard features include a 10.2-inch iDrive infotainment screen, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, remote keyless entry, push-button start, a 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster, automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, 14-way power-adjustable seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power-folding soft top, a wind deflector, rain-sensing windshield wipers, LED headlights, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Standard driver assistance features include a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection.

The Convenience package adds proximity keyless entry, satellite radio, additional lumbar seating adjustments, hands-free parallel park assist, and lane departure warning for $1,450. The $3,050 Premium package includes these features plus heated front seats, a head-up display, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and wireless device charging. The $5,550 Executive package adds to these features with a Harman Kardon stereo, adaptive headlights, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Individual options include leather seats, a heated steering wheel, remote start, parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, M Sport brakes, an M Sport differential, larger 19-inch wheels, and an adaptive suspension. These options range in price from a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars.

BMW Z4 M40i

The uplevel Z4 M40i carries a $63,700 starting price. This model has a 382-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. To the base model’s standard features, the M40i adds a stiffer sport-tuned suspension, M Sport brakes, an M Sport differential, aerodynamic tweaks to the front and rear bumpers, heated seats with extra lumbar support, a heated steering wheel, proximity keyless entry, and satellite radio.

Most options carry over from the base trim.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local BMW dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our BMW deals page.

See 2020 BMW Z4 specs and trims »

The Final Call

The BMW Z4 is a good car, but the luxury sports car class is packed with great ones. The Z4 gives you the deft handling you crave on curvy backroads, but it can also be the relaxing cruiser you want on the highway. The interior is spacious and nicely trimmed, and its tech features are user-friendly. There’s no shortage of power from either of the Z4’s turbocharged engine options. Barring one or two exceptions, the only convertibles in this class that are better cost significantly more.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Even before the addition of the upgraded engine, though, we liked the Z4 — and we still do. It offers a sporty driving experience right alongside a comfortable highway ride and a relatively practical interior and cargo layout." -- Edmunds
  • "I can assure you, the Z4 M40i is neither too slow, nor too soft, nor underpowered at all …  it's one of the most well-rounded, let's-go-anywhere two-seaters I've ever driven, and a brilliant sports car, even if it excels at nothing in particular." -- Automobile Magazine (2019)
  • I think it's accurate to say that the Z4 drives well. I'd even go so far as to say that it's very good for the first 90 percent of its capability. It's that last 10 percent that eats at me, though, and unfortunately, it's those moments that make or break a sports car. A great sports car asks to be pushed and pushes the driver in kind. That's why people want sports cars - and perhaps more important, why they buy them." -- Cars.com (2019)
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2020 BMW Z4

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