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2014 BMW Z4 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2014 BMW Z4 was new.


Performance: 8.1

Most test drivers agree that while the 2014 BMW Z4 doesn’t handle as well as class leaders like the Porsche Boxster, it still has decent cornering ability and a comfortable, composed ride. They also think that the Z4 has plenty of power, no matter which engine is under the hood.

  • "Not every roadster buyer is seeking ultimate handling, however. The Z4, although plenty fast in 35is form, is more of a relaxed tourer." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "No matter your engine or transmission choice, the Z4 is an exceptionally satisfying car to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "BMW's two-seat convertible doesn't feel as sharp going around turns as a true sports car like the Porsche Boxster, nor does it have the peerless refinement of the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class." -- Edmunds
  • "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 base 2014 BMW Z4 sDrive28i has a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. The 2014 BMW sDrive28i with a manual transmission gets an EPA-estimated 22/34 mpg city/highway, which is on par with the fuel economy of rivals like the Mercedes-Benz SLK250. The Z4 sDrive35i has a turbocharged, 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and a seven-speed automated manual is optional. The top-of-the-line sDrive35is has a turbocharged, 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine that produces 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a seven-speed automated manual transmission. BMW says the sDrive35is can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph.

Though critics love the powerful six-cylinder engines in the Z4 sDrive35i and sDrive35is, they think the base four-cylinder in the sDrive28i has more than enough power for most driving situations. They also like that the Z4 sDrive28i gets better gas mileage than the sDrive35i and sDrive35is. Reviewers say that the six-speed manual transmission is precise, and they write that the eight-speed automatic shifts smoothly.

  • "The 35i and 35is models are quicker of course, but truth be told, you'll be plenty happy with the Z4 28i." -- Edmunds
  • "Even in base form with the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the Z4 is plenty fast, with a 0-60 mph time of about 5.5 seconds." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "And while it's not as quick as the 35is (taking 5.5 seconds to reach 60 mph), it gets much better mileage, is available with a manual or a super-smooth eight-speed automatic, and costs more than $15,000 less than the 35is. It just may be that the 28i is the model that best embodies the classic spirit of the Z4." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The four-banger is mated to a precise six-speed manual gearbox that offers quick shifts that can be performed while comatose. It's that good." -- Left Lane News (2013)

Handling and Braking

Critics think the 2014 BMW Z4 corners quickly, with plenty of grip and almost no lean. However, they write that it still can’t match the handling prowess or steering feel of class leaders like the Porsche Boxster. An Adaptive M Suspension system is optional on the sDrive28i and sDrive35i, and standard on the sDrive35is. With the Adaptive M Suspension, you can choose between Comfort, Sport and Sport+ suspension settings. Test drivers say the Z4 has a comfortable ride that makes it a welcome companion on long-distance trips.

  • "Whichever one you pick, the Z4 turns in sharply and has tons of grip, but the electric power steering is rather light and artificial. Overall, this car just doesn't have quite the of-a-piece quality that characterizes its Porsche Boxster competitor." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "When the road gets twisty, the BMW Z4 doesn't feel as sharp as the Boxster, which remains the class favorite if an engaging driving experience is top priority. That said, the Z4, especially with one of its sport packages, is certainly no slouch around turns. However, its more comfortable ride and less communicative steering make it more of a grand touring car akin to the Mercedes-Benz SLK." -- Edmunds
  • "The Z4's optional adaptive suspension delivers the best of all worlds, as it allows you to adjust the damping force of the shock absorbers by way of three driver-selectable modes: Normal, Sport and Sport+." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "All Z4s handle very well. They hold the ride tightly with virtually zero body lean, even in the fastest corners." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

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