$31,990 - $42,444

2016 BMW Z4 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 BMW Z4 was new.


Performance: 8.3

The 2016 BMW Z4 feels potent with any of its available engines, including the peppy base four-cylinder, auto writers say. It rides comfortably and has fairly agile handling, but it isn't as athletic as more nimble rivals such as the Porsche Boxster.

  • "The 2016 BMW Z4 is one of those rare cars that feels just as much at home when driving down a winding mountain road or leisurely cruising by the ocean." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2015)
  • "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 base BMW Z4 sDrive28i comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while an eight-speed automatic is offered as a no-cost option. According to the EPA, the sDrive28i with an automatic transmission gets 22/33 mpg city/highway, which is close to what similarly equipped rivals earn.

The sDrive35i is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that generates 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, and the sDrive35is comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder that produces 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Both come with a seven-speed automated manual transmission and return an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg city/highway. The sDrive35is can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph, according to BMW.

The Z4's available six-cylinder engines are powerful and provide zippy acceleration, but the standard four-cylinder engine is plenty potent and never leaves you wanting for more. Due to the lighter weight of the four-cylinder engine, the base model feels more nimble than six-cylinder models. The engine stop/start function isn't very smooth, but it can be disabled.

  • "If the idea of a luxury sports car with a four-cylinder engine puts you off, we'd suggest you drive the 2016 BMW Z4 sDrive28i before you jump to any conclusions. With this engine, the car delivers strong acceleration and an appealing exhaust note, and its lighter weight makes the entire package feel a tad more nimble than the 35i. It does sound a bit agricultural at idle, however, and the standard auto stop-start feature sends uncouth shudders throughout the car (thankfully, you can turn it off)." -- Edmunds
  • "All three engines combine BMW's TwinPower turbo technology and direct injection for immediate and gratifying throttle response." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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 (2015)
  • "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 rear-wheel drive 2016 Z4 comes standard with Driving Dynamics Control, which offers Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ settings to alter steering effort, throttle response, and performance from the automatic transmission. Some models also offer an Adaptive M Suspension system, which allows you to adjust the stiffness of the suspension.

The Z4 has a comfortable ride and fairly nimble handling, but it's not at the same level as rivals such as the Porsche Boxster. The Z4 has impressive road grip and good stability when driven enthusiastically, but steering feel is numb and lacks the same sharpness that characterizes top-flight sports cars.

  • "Tuned for a more relaxed grand-touring style of driving, the Z4's standard suspension delivers a very livable ride quality. It's a sporty and confident-handling car as well. But even with the optional suspension installed, the Z4 is no match for the exemplary Porsche Boxster in regards to exemplary steering feel and driver engagement when going around turns." -- Edmunds
  • "While sports cars often have a stiff around-town ride, the adaptive suspension system available on the BMW Z4 allows drivers to select among Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes for smooth sailing, or sporty handling." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "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." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • "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)

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