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2019 BMW Z4 Performance Review


Performance: 8.0

The 2019 BMW Z4 is a lively roadster, powered by one of two turbocharged engines that are always ready to play. Well-defined drive modes shift it from an easy-going touring car to an athletic sports car, though performance is never overtly aggressive. Fuel economy with the base engine is among the best in our luxury sports car rankings.

  • "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
  • "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." --
  • Higher-speed track testing will surely reveal the benefits of the more powerful M40i setup, but honestly, the Z4 isn't that kind of car. It's a cruiser -- a roadster that's at its best on winding roads." -- CNET

Acceleration and Power

Budget-minded sports car shoppers will breathe a sigh of relief to know that the turbocharged four-cylinder engine powering the sDrive30i never feels lacking in power. With the aid of its fast-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, this car feels quicker than its specs suggest, and it has no issue overtaking lollygaggers. Even more thrilling is the M40i. It feels energetic at any speed and produces satisfying exhaust notes. Its six-cylinder engine comes with the same polished automatic transmission, as no manual transmission option is available.

Under the hood of the Z4 sDrive30i is a 255-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It has one of the highest fuel economy ratings in the class, at 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. The Z4 M40i has a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with an output of 382 horsepower. No gas mileage estimate is available yet from the EPA.

  • "… the seat-of-the-pants feeling as I stomp the throttle and take off down an empty farm road near Thermal, California is in no way lackluster. Peak torque arrives at just 1,500 rpm and remains strong up past 4,000. Mid-range punch is impressive. The eight-speed automatic transmission drops a gear or two with immediacy, and you're plunged right back into the deep end of that torque pool." -- CNET
  • "Where the Z4 really shines is with its engine. The 3.0-liter straight-six propels the Z4 off the tight corners like a rocket. With gobs of torque from seemly any RPM, you can just leave the car in whatever gear you like and the little Z will just pull. That being said, you may want to drop it down a gear or two just to hear the engine sing." -- Jalopnik
  • "The eight-speed automatic is done well. Not only does it shift quickly, but the software that chooses the gears is sorted. While I had the Z4 in Sport mode, it did quite a good job of grabbing and - more important - holding the right gear as I wound the car up and down a mountain road. If you still want to choose gears, there are paddle shifters that also do the trick, firing off shifts rapidly. It's a good transmission, not quite on par with the best ones out there (Porsche's PDK dual-clutch transmission in particular) but darn close." --

Handling and Braking

The rear-wheel-drive Z4 has decent steering feel, strong brakes, and a smoother ride quality than most small sports cars. Elements such as throttle response, steering weight, and body movements are distinct between its three drive modes (Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport). This gives you the ability to turn the car from a casual, laid-back convertible into a sportier roadster.

  • "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. Switching over to Sport+ definitely tightened things up on the handling front but also sent every crack and bump through my spine." -- Jalopnik
  • "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
  • 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." --
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2019 BMW Z4

MSRP: $49,700

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