$27,765 - $37,396

2015 BMW Z4 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 BMW Z4 was new.


Performance: 8.2

While the 2015 BMW Z4 doesn’t drive quite as athletically as rivals like the Porsche Boxster, it has poised handling and a composed ride, according to critics. Test drivers also appreciate the Z4’s powerful engine lineup, particularly the base engine.

  • "The Z4 is tuned to be more of a grand touring car than an outright sports car, but the result is sporty enough handling on back roads and a comfortable ride on the highway." -- Edmunds
  • "No matter your engine or transmission choice, the Z4 is an exceptionally satisfying car to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 BMW Z4 sDrive28i comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The sDrive28i comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, and an eight-speed automatic is a no-cost option. The sDrive28i gets an EPA-estimated 22/33 mpg city/highway with the automatic transmission, which is similar to the fuel economy of its rivals.

The Z4 sDrive35i comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that makes 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, while the sDrive35is has a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. The sDrive35i and sDrive35is come standard with a seven-speed automated manual transmission, and both models get an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg city/highway, which is low compared with the fuel economy of other six-cylinder roadsters. BMW says the sDrive35is can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph.

Test drivers write that the Z4 sDrive28i delivers plenty of power. They report that the sDrive35i and sDrive35is are more potent, but also less nimble and less fuel-efficient.

  • "The base BMW Z4 comes with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, but so what? The 0-60 mph time of about 5.5 seconds makes this car plenty quick." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "This torque-rich engine pulls hard and has a pleasing exhaust note. The 28i also handles a bit better than its six-cylinder siblings thanks to its lighter weight." -- Edmunds
  • "The sDrive28i is a quick little roadster that never left us wanting more power, while the 4-cylinder's enthusiastic noises evoke the exuberant MINI Cooper S. Of course, the inline 6-cylinder versions are quicker, but fuel economy plummets." -- AutoTrader
  • "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 (2014)

Handling and Braking

The 2015 BMW Z4 comes standard with rear-wheel drive and Driving Dynamics Control, which lets you adjust steering effort, throttle response and performance from the automatic transmission. It has Comfort, Sport and Sport+ settings. You can also adjust suspension stiffness in models with the Adaptive M Suspension system, which is optional on the sDrive28i and sDrive35i, and standard on the sDrive35is. Test drivers write that the Z4 has a smooth ride and agile handling, especially when equipped with the optional Adaptive M Suspension. They add that the Z4 delivers lots of grip and little body lean during cornering. However, the Z4 can’t match the steering feel or responsive handling of rivals like the Porsche Boxster, according to critics.

  • "On the handling front, the Z4's somewhat numb electric-assist steering doesn't channel the spirit of older BMWs, but you can still have a lot of fun in this car. The grip and body control are certainly there. The Boxster is sharper, yes, but it's not as good at being a top-up touring car. Decisions, decisions." -- AutoTrader
  • "When the road gets twisty, the BMW Z4 doesn't feel as sharp as the Boxster, which remains the class favorite if you demand an engaging driving experience. Nonetheless, the Z4 is certainly no slouch around turns, especially with its adaptive sport suspension. At the same time, its relatively supple ride makes it an enticing substitute for the Mercedes-Benz SLK." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2014)
  • "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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