2013 BMW Z4 Performance

$20,811 - $27,818

2013 BMW Z4 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 BMW Z4 was new.


Performance: 8.1

Reviewers say the BMW Z4 is an admirable performer, with strong engines and nimble handling. Keep in mind that in the luxury sports car category, the Z4 competes with powerful sports cars like the Chevrolet Corvette and Nissan GT-R, thus its performance score seems low despite reviewers giving mostly positive feedback on its performance. Three models are offered: the sDrive28i has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while the sDrive35i and sDrive35is have more powerful turbocharged six-cylinder engines. The 35is also comes standard with a BMW M Sport package with an adjustable suspension for more athletic handling. Some reviewers suggest that the 28i model is worth serious consideration, as it weighs less and thus offers more agile handling, in addition to getting significantly better fuel economy than six-cylinder models. Overall, reviewers generally agree that the Z4 strikes a good balance of comfort and athleticism.

  • "The engine is a bit noisy, but it's the good kind of sound that will make even non-enthusiasts smile." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The handling is excellent, the controls are engaging and each turbocharged engine -- either a relatively frugal four-cylinder or much stronger six-cylinder -- delivers strong performance." -- Edmunds
  • "At 2.0 liters, there wouldn't seem to be much displacement to spool up the turbocharger quickly. But the twin-scroll turbo (the turbine is fed exhaust by two distinct pathways) builds boost with a whiny glee." -- Car and Driver (2012)
  • "Actually, the Z4 seems to reclaim a measure of BMW's ultimate-driving qwon. The company's sedans seem to be getting heavier and less involving. The roadster (about 3,250 pounds), by contrast, is right there, like it's got Red Bull in the tank." -- The Wall Street Journal (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Z4 is offered in three flavors: the base 28i model comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The 35i has a turbocharged six-cylinder engine with 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The top 35is model has the same basic engine from the regular 35i, but instead produces 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. The 28i comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission, while a six-speed manual is available at no extra cost. On the 35i, the six-speed manual is standard, while a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is optional. The dual-clutch transmission is standard on the 35is. According to the EPA, the Z4 sDrive28i achieves up to 22/34 mpg city/highway when equipped with a manual transmission, which is comparable with rivals like the Mercedes-Benz SLK250.

While it doesn’t have the monstrous power or acceleration of a car like the Chevrolet Corvette or Nissan GT-R, reviewers are impressed with the Z4’s engines. They say that four-cylinder Z4 variants have plenty of power and give the car respectable acceleration times. Most also agree that upgrading to a six-cylinder model simply makes the car faster. Reviewers say the engines deliver their power in a linear fashion with no detectable turbo lag. Reviewers are also pleased with the transmissions, with one describing the manual shifter as “slick,” and another reporting that the dual-clutch unit on 35i models is great.

  • "Both the sDrive35i and sDrive35is have robust power from any speed with no perceptible turbo lag." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Even in base form with a turbocharged 4-cyclinder engine, the Z4 is plenty fast with a 0-60 mph time of about 5.5 seconds. Stepping up to the 6-cylinder models only quickens this car's acceleration times and, consequently, one's pulse." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "But slot the manual transmission's slick shifter into 1st and lay into the throttle and we're pretty sure you won't have anything to complain about. This torque-rich engine pulls hard and has a sharp, warbling exhaust note reminiscent of BMW's past inline-6s." -- Edmunds
  • "While I'd still like to have the choice of a traditional manual transmission - it's available only on the lower Z4 trim levels - this gearbox is so good you forget about stick shifts altogether." -- Cars.com (2012) 

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say that the Z4 doesn’t handle as well as rivals like the Porsche Boxster or Cayman, but that it still feels fairly nimble and engaging, and exhibits little body lean through corners. Some note that because of their lower weight, four-cylinder models demonstrate more agile handling than six-cylinder models. Still, most are pleased with both models, and report that the steering and brakes are communicative and reassuring in their operation. Opting for the M Sport Package on any model adds performance-enhancing features to the Z4, including an adjustable suspension. The adjustable suspension is standard on the sDrive35is. One reviewer questions how worthwhile the optional suspension package is, saying that the standard configuration doesn’t leave much room for improvement.

  • "All Z4s handle very well. They hold the ride tightly with virtually zero body lean, even in the fastest corners. While the sport suspension isn't a big detriment to the ride, some testers believe it doesn't aid handling all that much either. This is mostly due to the standard setup being so capable." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 28i also handles a bit better than its six-cylinder siblings thanks to its lighter weight." -- Edmunds
  • "No matter your engine or transmission choice, the Z4 is an exceptionally satisfying car to pilot with excellent braking and steering feel." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "It also helps dynamically that the smaller four-cylinder engine is situated entirely behind the front axle line, thus placing the car's heaviest component more centrally for more cornering agility." -- The Wall Street Journal (2012)
  • "The low-slung Z4 sDrive35is proved to be a cornering champ, exhibiting little body roll and plenty of grip. While its responses may not be as immediate and direct as a Porsche Cayman's, they're not far behind." -- Cars.com (2012)

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