Home / Auto / New BMW Z4 2019 REVIEW – It's not the game changing sports car that it could've been

New BMW Z4 2019 REVIEW – It's not the game changing sports car that it could've been


New BMW Z4 2019

New BMW Z4 2019 (Image: BMW)

That history continues with this third generation of the Z4, which sticks to the tried-and-tested roadster recipe of a long bonnet and rear-set cabin – a classic configuration that will appeal to anyone looking for open-topped driving thrills.

BMW thinks that there will be initially around 2,500 buyers a year for this new Z4, which is a pretty healthy number for what remains a pretty niche segment of the market.

The design of the new Z4 is well resolved: sleek and contoured, with short overhangs, it looks good in profile, while the nose has a wide and shallow interpretation of BMW’s kidney grille, with a sporty, mesh-like surface.

Also notable is the fact that the new Z4 has a soft-top fabric roof, as opposed to the hard-top in its predecessor, which can open and close at speeds up to 31mph in 10 seconds. A nifty optional windshield that just slots between the rollover bars is a neat and practical touch.

Buyers have a choice of three turbo-petrol engines to pick from. The base sDrive 20i draws its power from a 2.0-litre engine producing 195bhp, enabling it to reach 60mph from a standing start in 6.4 seconds. Average fuel economy is a reasonable 47.1mpg, while emissions are also a not too prohibitive 137g/km.

The sDrive 30i uses the same engine, but is tuned to deliver 254bhp, the extra power reducing the 0 to 60mph time to 5.2 seconds. However, there’s no economy or emissions penalty, with both being the same as the s20i.

The range-topping M40i however gets a 3.0-litre, 335bhp engine to help it to a 0 to 60mph time of just 4.5 seconds. That’s what you’d perhaps expect for a sports car, although the 39.8mpg average fuel economy and 162g/km emissions are impressive.

The M40i certainly feels quick, with plenty of off-the-line pace and lots of power on tap for overtaking – which is handy on country roads with lots of corners, where the available space is limited.

New BMW Z4 2019

New BMW Z4 2019 (Image: BMW)

New BMW Z4 2019

New BMW Z4 2019 (Image: BMW)

New BMW Z4 2019

New BMW Z4 2019 (Image: BMW)

In-gear acceleration on motorways is equally impressive and the shifts themselves are swift and smooth, thanks to an eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox (which is mated to all the engines in the Z4 range).

Another of BMW’s illustrious traditions is the way that its cars handle. They’ve always been engaging and sporty, so it’s reasonable to expect that this new Z4 will follow suit. And it does. The steering is accurate and has just the right amount of involvement for most buyers.

The car feels stable, grippy and agile and it feels taut and flat in the corners, even at higher speeds. Drivers can also switch between Comfort, Sport and Sport+ settings, which also means that the ride quality can be changed and even in the stiffer settings it’s not overly firm.

The cabin has the snug compactness of a sports car, but at the same time there’s sufficient space for both occupants. They’re also cossetted in sports seats (the sDrive 30i and M40i models get leather) that feel very comfortable and offer plenty of support.

New BMW Z4 2019

New BMW Z4 2019 (Image: BMW)

New BMW Z4 2019

New BMW Z4 2019 (Image: BMW)

New BMW Z4 2019

New BMW Z4 2019 (Image: BMW)

The interior surfaces are also finished in high-quality materials, making the Z4 a perfectly pleasant place in which to spend time.

And you can spend more time in the Z4, with fairly lengthy trips now possible, thanks to a boot that can now take a few decent-sized bags.

Replacing the hard-top of the previous generation with a fabric roof frees up a lot of space, so the boot has more than doubled in capacity, to 281 litres, so it’s now marginally bigger than its closest rivals, and a couple of cabin bags and/or some soft-sided holdalls will fit nicely.

The cockpit is, as befits a sports car, very much driver focused, with the likes of a head-up display and a pair of 10.25-inch displays – one for the instrument panel, the other for the infotainment system, which offers a wide range of options, including navigation and BMW’s ConnectedDrive online services.

New BMW Z4 2019

New BMW Z4 2019 (Image: BMW)

New BMW Z4 2019

New BMW Z4 2019 (Image: BMW)

New BMW Z4 2019

New BMW Z4 2019 (Image: BMW)

The infotainment system uses the latest version of the iDrive controller, which is easy to use. However, the downside is that there are lots of menus and submenus to navigate through, so some settings especially for the car’s safety features can be well buried.

The other minor niggle is that Apple Carplay, for controlling a smartphone, is only accessible wirelessly via enhanced Bluetooth, which we found to be a little shaky.

The Z4 certainly does nothing to undermine BMW’s reputation for building handy sports cars. But it has some strong competition, in the form of the Porsche 718 Boxster and Audi’s TT RS, while the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 can’t be entirely discounted, either.

The Z4 acquits itself well in this company, but it wasn’t the leap forward that the company suggested it was going to be. It’s very accomplished, but we’d still choose the Boxster, thanks to its more involving on-road personality.

So while the Z4 will find many fans among buyers, its abilities aren’t exceptional enough to allow it to make history.

New BMW Z4 2019

New BMW Z4 2019 (Image: BMW)

New BMW Z4 2019

New BMW Z4 2019 (Image: BMW)

Logbook Lowdown

Model: BMW Z4

On sale: March 2019

Price range: £36,990 – 49,050

Engine range: Turbo-petrol – 2.0, 2.0 254bhp, 3.0-litre

Power: 0 to 60mph in 4.5 seconds, 165mph top speed (3.0)

Average fuel economy: 47.1mpg (2.0)

CO2 emissions range: 137-168g/km 

Rivals: Audi TT RS, Porsche 718 Boxster S, Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 

Rating: 8/10



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