2009 BMW Z4 Performance

$11,129 - $12,734

2009 BMW Z4 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 BMW Z4 was new.


Performance: 8.0

Reviewers report that the Z4 is powerful and handles like a pro. Its only fault is an uncommunicative steering.

  • "The new Z4 sDrive35i may not have the purity of the old M roadster, but it essentially equals its straight-line performance, and its handling is even better." -- Automobile Magazine

Acceleration and Power

Auto writers are pleased with the Z4's strong and smooth-operating powertrain options.

The Z4 sDrive30i is equipped with 3.0-liter I6 engine that produces 255 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 220 pound-feet of torque at 2,600 rpm. The more powerful Z4 sDrive35i features a 3.0-liter turbocharged I6 engine that generates 300 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 300 pound-feet of torque at 1,400 - 5,000 rpm. Standard on both trims is a six-speed manual transmission. However, a sport automatic transmission with shift paddles is optional. Only available for the sDrive35i is an optional seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

According to BMW, the Z4 has a top speed of 130 mph. While the sDrive30i can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, the Z4 sDrive35i can do it in 5.1 seconds.

Neither the EPA nor BMW have released fuel efficiency figures for the 2009 Z4.

  • "The base sDrive 30i comes with a capable inline-6 that's good for 255 hp, while the sDrive35i ups the ante with a 300-hp twin-turbocharged inline-6 that gets the roadster from zero to 60 in an estimated 5 seconds flat -- about as quick as last year's hard-core M version of the Z4." -- Edmunds
  • "Where the 'base' 3.0-liter six is certainly adequate, with a brawny torque spread and pleasing exhaust snarl, the biturbo mill is seriously strong." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "We found happiness with the manual transmission, which is blessed with BMW's trademark snickety-snick operation. The optional six-speed traditional automatic ($1325) is a suitably sporty match for the engine. Shifts range from imperceptibly relaxed in drive mode to assertive and snappy in sport and manual modes, complete with rev-matched manual downshifts." -- Car and Driver
  • "Strangely, the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles do not follow the same logic here as they do in the M3, where one paddle upshifts and the other downshifts. Instead, either paddle can shift up (by pushing forward) or down (by pulling back) -- the idea being that the Z4 can be shifted with only one hand on the wheel, whereas the more serious M3 pilot is someone who drives with two hands." -- Automobile Magazine

Handling and Braking

Most test drivers are impressed by the Z4's purposeful handling dynamics. Some, however, note that its steering lacks the level of feedback expected from a BMW.

  • "In terms of handling and steering, BMW's latest roadster is sporty enough for most, but its reflexes and communication with the driver are lackluster when compared to those of Porsche's Boxster and Cayman. The main culprit here is the electric power steering system, which is largely devoid of the feel and feedback we expect in BMW products." -- Edmunds
  • "Our test car was equipped with the optional adaptive M suspension, which electronically adjusts the damper rates and offers three driver-selectable modes: normal, sport, and sport plus.  ... The Z4 keeps a flat cornering attitude in all three settings, and the neutral handling gives way progressively to gentle understeer at the limit. The electronically assisted steering has a responsive and direct feel but doesn't offer much feedback from the road surface." -- Car and Driver
  • "[I]t drives very well indeed, with a commendably stiff structure resisting quakes on rough surfaces, and with suspension disciplines that keep the car on track. The electromechanical steering assist feels naturally weighted, and the Z4 aims at corner apexes with pleasing accuracy." -- Popular Mechanics

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