The latest Z4 was launched early in 2019 and went on sale in mid-April. It’s an all new design by Australian designer Calvin Luk and while it continues the Z4 heritage, it also represents a fresh approach.
We have tested the BMW Z4 a few times over the years and was looking forward to spending some time in this latest version.
There are three variants available, the Z4 sDrive20i (which we are driving currently), Z4 sDrive30i and Z4 M40i M Performance.
BMW Z4 sDrive20i Exterior
Externally the Z4 is a little polarising but I think it is simply stunning. Unusually the vehicle looks great with both the roof up and down. It is better looking than the recently released M2 Competition.
The overall look is low, slinky with a wide track which gives a squat sport appeal. The long bonnet slopes to the fresh take on the kidney grill and vertical LED headlights.
From the side the clean lines are accentuated by the character lines and the forward leaning black trimmed air intakes.
The BMW Z4 sDrive20i sits on 18-inch light alloy wheels fitted with performance tyres. These measure 255/40/ZR18 on the front axle and 275/40/ZR18 on the rear.
From the rear the only thing that I personally don’t like is the integrated spoiler, which seems to spoil the smooth lines. Others like it though. The twin exhausts add to the sport appeal.
The design is certainly appealing though, given the number of people who stopped me to chat about it, or looked as I drove past, or even stopped to look when it was parked pout the front of my house. That kind of attention isn’t common, but then again neither is the Z4.
I can attest to the waterproof nature of the soft top, as on one night we had a mini cyclone, with winds up to 120km/h and bucketing down rain, and nothing leaked. Excellent.
The electronic roof takes about 10 seconds to operate and stores neatly behind the seats and can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 50km/h.
A choice of one solid and three metallic exterior paints are available, with the additional option of ‘Frozen Grey II’ finish from the BMW Individual collection.
We drove the San Francisco Red Metallic and it was stunning. It also adds about $2000 to the price.
BMW Z4 sDrive20i Interior
Designed as purely a two seat vehicle, there is surprising space inside. Those readers who know me, also know that I am considerably larger than the average bear at 190 cm and way north of 100kg, but once I lowered myself into the seat (dam that dodgy right knee) there was ample room for me.
The M Sport seats have an integrated headrest design and are clad in soft ‘Vernasca’ leather. The driver’s seat has multiple electronic adjustments, including lumbar and side bolsters. There is also a manual squab extender. Considering the weather we had for the week, about 10 degrees and raining for most of it, the heated function was appreciated.
Interior layout is definitely driver centric and in front of the driver is an angular customisable instrument cluster. This not only displays traditional speed, fuel and engine information but can also display navigation and audio content, among other items. The heads up display is excellent. Z4 also comes with a thick leather ‘M steering wheel with the usual array of controls and paddle shifts behind.
Between the seats is a long centre console bin with a clever twin lid design that allows access to the cup holders and storage, while still providing an elbow rest for the driver. Normally I am not a fan of twin lid designs, but this one works a treat.
The console houses the transmission lever, drive mode selection buttons, the controls for BMW centre screen and the lever for the electronic roof control. All very neat and well laid out and easy to use. Ambient internal lighting adds to the appeal.
On top of the centre stack is a 10.25inch screen that is the hub of BMW Operating System 7.0. It can be operated by the dial on the centre console, by touch or voice command. The level of individualisation for the vehicle is impressive. The screen itself is crystal clear whether the roof is up or down.
There are speakers surrounding the occupants, on the dash, in the doors and behind the seats. However for the most part either the crisp exhaust note or the sounds of the road are enough.
As the Z4 is all about driver pleasure and visual appeal, the interior standard Vernasca leather is matched to Alcantara trim and is finished in Black with Blue Contrast Stitching. Upholstery is also offered (at no cost) in Ivory White, Black, Magma Red and Cognac full Vernasca leather finishes.
A Sensatec dashboard complements the high-quality leather upholstery, while textured interior trims – in Aluminium Tetragon pattern – add a further layer of cool sophistication.
Internal storage is limited to the glove box, a reasonable size, the clever centre console bin, tiny door pockets that are impossible to use and a small netted area behind the seats on a shelf.
One design feature I really appreciate is that with the roof down, the boot space isn’t affected. There is a surprising amount of room in the 281 litres boot as I found out and if you pack carefully you can fit literally heaps in. Hanging hooks in the boot are a practical addition.
Overall the interior gets a big tick for layout and ambiance.
BMW Z4 sDrive20i Features
The Z4 we drove is the ‘entry level’ version, but that doesn’t mean poverty pack.
As standard, The BMW Z4 sDrive20i features an impressively high standard specification. Additional highlights include:
- M Sport Package
- Tyre Repair Kit
- Wind Deflector
- Interior and driver’s side exterior mirror with automatic anti-dazzle function
- Through-loading system
- Storage Compartment Package
- Two-zone Automatic Air Conditioning
- Cruise Control with Braking Function
- High-Beam Assistant
- Driving Assistant
- Parking Assistant including Reverse Assistant
- Active Guard
- DAB digital radio with HiFi Loudspeaker System with 10 speakers
- Connected Package Professional, including Apple CarPlay
- BMW Live Cockpit Professional
- Wireless Charging
- Chinese Language Display (no-cost option)
BMW Z4 sDrive20i Engine and Drivetrain
The Z4 sDrive20i entry point houses the latest development of BMW’s lauded 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine.
In this tune, the sDrive20i engine develops 145kW from 4,500rpm to 6,500rpm. This is backed by a strong 320Nm torque peak, ranging from only 1,450rpm to 4,200rpm. Fuel economy is listed at 6.5L/100km on the combined cycle, with 148g/km of CO2.
According to BMW, the sDrive20i accelerates to 100km/h from standstill in about 6.6 seconds. All Z4 models come with an eight-speed sports automatic transmission with launch control and paddle shifters fitted as standard.
Underneath is a newly-designed double-joint spring-strut front suspension. Aluminium control arms and swivel bearings have reduced unsprung mass while suspension mountings are particularly stiff for increased response.
The five-link rear axle makes its BMW roadster debut in the all new Z4. The combined aluminium/steel construction is lighter and stronger, with stiffer bushings further aiding wheel control.
The M Sport Package that is fitted as standard to BMW Z4 sDrive20i lowers the car 10mm for even sharper control. Optional on the 2.0L version is the Adaptive M Suspension, BMW’s variable damper system.
BMW Z4 sDrive20i Driving Experience
Everything about the Z4 is hedonistic. From the moment you start up and bear that slight burble through to the tactile nature of the interior, the engaging driving experience is central.
Given its rigid chassis, low centre of gravity, 50:50 weight distribution and rear-wheel drive, the all new BMW Z4 has a natural dynamic advantage. With a shorter wheelbase and wider front and rear tracks, the engineers’ intention was clear: make the Z4 a driver’s car.
With the top up it’s just like driving another coupe. Although the road noise is always present and the drumming and harshness from the low profile tyres is noticeable, and from the suspension. Over poor roads you are jiggled around a bit and potholes are best avoided. Wind noise, however, is minimal.
However, put the top down on a beautiful day, or even better, a balmy evening, and all is forgiven. The week I had the Z4 was mostly cold and extremely wet. However there were moments of clear skies and clear evenings. So down went the top, even on a 10 degree evening. I just put the car and seat heaters on, slipped on a beanie and loved the drive.
Driving the Z4 at night with the top down is exhilarating
The low torque delivery means that the Z4 is mostly easy and smooth to drive. There is a little jerkiness at low speeds from the transmission that quickly disappears under acceleration. The speed sensitive electronic steering provides good feedback, if a little light at times.
Given that the Z4 is all about simple driving pleasure, I’m not sure anyone would need anything more than the 2.0L engine. It provided enough acceleration at almost any speed and felt balanced. I haven’t driven the M40i version, but my initial thoughts are that it would be unbalanced. If outright speed is what you’re after, buy a coupe not a convertible.
Overall visibility is poor, over the bonnet, over the shoulder and through a small rear window. Having the roof down helps. With the roof down, there is little wind noise or buffeting thanks to the wind deflectors.
However the headlights are superb. The automatic function allows for reducing glare for oncoming vehicles and those you are following, while still providing maximum illumination as well as active cornering.
BMW Z4 sDrive20i Safety
While not having been through the ANCAP process as yet, the Z4 is still packed with safety features, as you would expect.
The critical feature for a convertible is the individual rollover bars that provide an additional safety layer when the roof is down.
There are the usual plethora of features such as multiple airbags, driver assist programs, Lane Keep Assist and Warning, Collision Warning both forward and rearward, ESC, Traction Control, Blind Spot indicators and a heap more.
BMW Z4 sDrive20i Summary
The BMW Z4 is designed purely for hedonistic pleasure. It’s all about the look and feel and driving experience.
Being able to lower the convertible top and head off for a drive is one of life’s great experiences. If you are never going to drive with the top down don’t buy this car, there are better coupes. However there aren’t any better convertibles for the price.
The world of convertible cars is limited and if you enjoy this type of driving grab one now before the automotive nannies focus their attention on these and make them a thing of memories.
I loved my time in the Z4, however it definitely is a second car, but a dam good one.
Also look at:
- Stunning design
- Hedonistic pleasure
- Overall balance and Engine/transmission
- Having to slide down into it with a dodgy right knee
- Overall driver visibility
- Road and tyre noise
Model BMW Z4 sDrive20i Convertible
- Model Price From $84,900 MLP*
- Engine 2.0L 4 Cylinder Turbo Petrol
- Drivetrain 8 Sp AT RWD
- Power 145 kW @ 4500 rpm
- Torque 320 Nm @ 1450 rpm
- Safety TBA ANCAP
- CO2 148 g/km
- Economy 6.5L/100 km ADR
- Servicing Condition based Plan $
- 0-100km/h 6.6 secs
- Top Speed 240km/h
- Warranty 3 Yrs / Unlimited km 3 Yrs Roadside Assist
*Includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of options. Some features mentioned in the article are options
Overall Rating 84/100
- Behind the Wheel 9
- Comfort 8
- Equipment 8
- Practicality 8
- Performance 8
- Ride & Handling 8
- Fit for Purpose 10
- Street Appeal 10
- Fun Factor 8
- Value for Money 7
BMW Z4 sDrive20i Convertible
The BMW Z4 is designed purely for hedonistic pleasure. It’s all about the look and feel and driving experience.
Being able to lower the convertible top and head off for a drive is one of life’s great experiences.