2008 BMW Z4 Performance

$7,022 - $15,503

2008 BMW Z4 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2008 BMW Z4 was new.


Performance: 8.2

Test drivers say the 2008 Z4 coupe offers an exhilarating driving experience and excellent handling dynamics that are almost on par with its more exotic competition.

"In nearly all performance aspects, the ... BMW Z4 shines," says Edmunds. "Acceleration, braking and handling are all excellent. The Z4 is in its element on lightly trafficked roads where one can push the car toward its limits and enjoy the engine's sonorous exhaust note." In regard to its top rival, the Los Angeles Times says the Z4 "doesn't match the performance of the Cayman, but it's so easy to live with that I'm happy to forgive whatever few tenths of a second it yields on a road course."

The coupe holds a performance advantage over its roadster counterpart due to its fixed roof and more rigid body structure. "Blessed with near 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution and a powerful in-line six-cylinder engine, the Z4 Coupe delivers the exhilarating driving experience purists demand without compromising on comfort," says Kelley Blue Book.

Acceleration and Power

The 2008 BMW Z4 3.0si comes with a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that makes 255 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 220 pound-feet of torque at 2,750 rpm. According to BMW, it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph.

Reviews have little to no criticism about acceleration, with the Chicago Sun-Times calling it "plenty fast." While the Z4's 0-to-60 times are impressive enough, the Los Angeles Times says "the more interesting velocities come at mid-throttle. At highway speeds, when you double-click down to a passing gear, the car's cabin fills with a lusty buzz and the car surges ahead with a gliding aggression." Kelley Blue Book describes the coupe as "a driver's car, pure and simple" and adds, "The 3.0-liter engine willingly delivers its power and the short-throw six-speed manual allows the driver to milk every drop of performance."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Z4 with the manual transmission nets 18 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. With the optional automatic, it gets 19/28 mpg city/highway. Consumer Guide reports an average of 22.5 mpg in mostly highway driving with the automatic transmission. All Z4s require premium-grade fuel.

The engine is paired with a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters is optional. Some test drivers prefer the manual, with Consumer Guide commenting, "Slick, crisp, short-throw shifts make the manual transmission a pleasure."

However, buyers who choose the automatic won't be disappointed. Consumer Guide says it "shifts decisively, but never feels harsh" and the Chicago Sun-Times comments that "the responsive automatic makes the car easier to drive in congested Chicago area traffic." The Los Angeles Times says a test car equipped with the auto "drove like an opium dream. As tormented as the SMG is, the auto-six, with button-like shifters on the steering wheel, is that close to transmission heaven. The step-off acceleration is potent, the shift intervals are almost imperceptible and various sport-seeking algorithms keep the transmission in the most aggressive gear for hard driving."

Handling and Braking

The rear-wheel drive Z4 coupe handles well, though some reviews saw the ride is too stiff and choppy. The Chicago Sun-Times compliments the car's "responsive handling," due in no small part to its 50/50 weight distribution. Consumer Guide, says the ride is "appropriately firm for a high-performance car," adding that the "[s]uspensions transmit most every bump and tar strip, yet have enough compliance to avoid harshness."

The Z4 features a strut-type front suspension with forged-aluminum lower arms and hydraulic cushions, and a central link rear suspension with cast-aluminum upper transverse links. Car and Driver criticizes the suspension for being "downright nervous on imperfect surfaces (and where are they perfect besides Germany?), requiring constant correction and allowing little relaxation." The Chicago Sun-Times, on the other hand, says the suspension "is firm and lets you feel some bumps, but isn't harsh. However, the ride gets choppy on rough streets and some expressway pavement, partly because the car has a short 98.3-inch wheelbase."

To aid stability, the Z4 features Dynamic Stability Control with Brake Fade Compensation as well as Brake Stand-by features with Dynamic Traction Control. A Start-Off Assistant holds the brakes briefly on a hill after the brake pedal is released so the car doesn't roll back. Brake Drying senses windshield wiper activation and touches the pads to the rotors to keep them dry. An optional Sport Package adds stiffer shocks and springs for a firmer, sportier ride that some say is an improvement. "With the Sport package's 18-inch, 40-series tires, it grabs asphalt like a Florida congressman... The steering is accurate to nine decimals, the brakes faultless," says the Los Angeles Times.

The Z4's vehicle-speed-sensitive electric power steering provides excellent road grip. "The road holding, measured at 0.93 g on our skidpad, is in the Crazy Glue class, finessed by precise steering and resolute brakes," says Car and Driver. Kelley Blue Book calls steering "accurate and responsive -- although the car's big tires sometimes tend to follow grooves in the pavement, forcing minor corrective inputs to the steering wheel." Consumer Guide has the same criticism, commenting, "Wide tires follow road grooves, but the car tracks true otherwise." The Chicago Sun-Times lodges another small complaint, noting that steering is "almost too quick off the on-center position, so drivers who let their attention wander might quickly find that the car has partly moved into the next lane."

The car's four-wheel anti-lock ventilated disc brakes get very good reviews. "Powerful brakes reward with impressively short, stable stops and excellent pedal feel," says Consumer Guide. A minor criticism from the Chicago Sun-Times is that the brake pedal is "touchy on initial application, but allows easy brake modulation for smooth stops."

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