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U.S. News Best Price Program

2020 BMW Z4 Performance Review


Performance: 8.2

The 2020 BMW Z4 is an enjoyable sports car to drive. Its engine options are powerful yet fuel-efficient, and they zip this roadster up to speed confidently. The Z4 corners well and rides comfortably on various road surfaces.

  • "The Z4 will take almost anyone from stoplight to stoplight. If you need to get a lane over, this will quickly do it without too much drama. It doesn’t really roar or scream or intimidate. On the expressway, just aim toward a gap and gas it. The turbo I6 will get you from 60 mph to 80 in a blink. … The fully automatic eight-speed was great with good reaction to the paddles. I probably would have guessed it was a dual-clutch." -- Autoweek
  • "In its everyday driving modes, the Z4 rides decently over broken pavement. It is still stiffer than your average passenger car, but it won't beat you up if the roads aren't track-smooth asphalt. Tighten the car's settings and the suspension follows the command." -- Cars.com (2019)
  • "Even our relatively brief experience proves the Z4 to be a true sports car in a way that its predecessor just wasn't." -- Car and Driver (2019)

Acceleration and Power

The BMW Z4 is available with one of two engines. The Z4 sDrive30i has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 254 horsepower and 294 pound-feet of torque, and the Z4 sDrive M40i has a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder with 382 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. Both engines help the Z4 accelerate up to speed briskly and the eight-speed automatic delivers quick and timely shifts.

An eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard. Some critics lament the absence of a manual transmission, but otherwise the Z4’s performance excites. There isn’t a fuel economy penalty for this performance, either. The sDrive30i model gets an EPA-rated 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. The M40i model yields a similar 24/31 mpg city/highway rating. These are among the best ratings in the luxury sports car segment.

  • "Wonderfully smooth and willing to rev, BMW's B58 six is a honey, bringing the Z4 to life with a 1600-rpm torque peak and pulling like a mule to its 7000-rpm redline." -- Car and Driver
  • "The Z4's 255 hp is decent for a car with a curb weight of 3,287 pounds, but the real story is the 295 pounds-feet of torque it can put out starting at just 1,500 rpm. That output never feels far away, and since it comes on in the low part of the rev range, it's easy to keep the Z4 in the power when driving aggressively. From lower speeds to passing maneuvers at higher speeds, the car has good, solid response and feels quicker than its 5.2-second zero-to-60 mph time suggests." -- Cars.com (2019)
  • "I really missed having a manual on the Z4. It’s so frustrating because, going down the checklist, every other aspect of this car feels like it comes from a formula written down somewhere to make something that drives a little bit different than your standard BMW. Solving for X on the Z4 formula should leave you with a stick shift. But you can’t get one." -- Jalopnik

Handling and Braking

The Z4 is a very well-balanced sports car. It has quick steering and powerful brakes, and it feels composed around tight turns. Its suspension is pliant enough to keep the ride comfortable and relaxing on rougher road surfaces, which isn’t the case with some of the track-tuned vehicles in this segment. An adaptive suspension is available, allowing drivers to adjust ride stiffness on the fly.

  • "The thick steering wheel has both the right effort and ratio to dive through holes in traffic or put a wheel right at the edge of the yellow turn lane when legally apexing a left turn. …The Z4's suspension, too, is nice and tight without beating you up." -- Autoweek
  • "I can tell you this: it's not a pure sports car. The Boxster is definitely harder-edged and more focused on performance over comfort, even though it, too, is a pretty livable daily driver. But on these bad roads, the Z4 was an absolute pleasure. The adaptive suspension soaked up all of the rough patches-and there were many of them-all while providing solid feed back and stability." -- Jalopnik (2019)
  • "Like the M40i, the Z4 sDrive30i is really enjoyable to drive. The steering is quick to react to inputs, with lots of feedback delivered back to your palms. Chassis tuning is on the softer side of sporty, but I don't mind it on the soaking wet, pockmarked roads of California's Coachella Valley." -- CNET (2019)
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2020 BMW Z4

MSRP: $49,700 - $63,700

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