BMW have sent the Z4 to the gym, and it has come back packing extra muscle. The two-seater sports car of the BMW range, the new Z4 is now only available as a soft-top, which raises and lowers in just ten seconds at speeds of up to 31mph. Looks-wise, the all new Z4 has similar proportions and stance to the model it replaces but is wider, sleeker and sharper overall. At the front there’s a new honeycomb grille and the stance is wider, with a track that’s 9cm wider at the back and 5cm wider at the front. In short, if you liked the traditional long-bonnet, short overhang looks of its predecessor you’ll love the new one.
BMW’s safety systems for the new Z4 include front and side airbags for driver and passenger, a roll-over protection system, cornering brake control and a tyre pressure monitor with a three-level warning system. The Z4 also has dynamic braking lights that flash under severe braking then switch to hazard flashers at a slower speed, alerting following traffic.
The new Z4 is available with three drivetrains. The range starts with the sDrive20i, which features a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol with 197bhp and achieves 0-62mph in 6.6sec. The mid-range sDrive30i is based on the same engine in a higher state of tune (258bhp) and hits the benchmark sprint in 5.4sec. Top of the range is the M40i, which is powered by a 340bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol, has 369lb ft of torque and does 0-62mph in 4.6sec. This performance flagship car was originally targeted to match the M240i’s best lap time around the Nürburgring Nordschleife, but the Z4’s handling and dynamics turned out so good that it beat the time set by the faster M2, despite not being an M car itself.
In Sport guise the Z4 comes packed with tech, including Bluetooth hands-free, BMW Live Cockpit Professional and BMW Connected Package Professional, a range of intelligent software services from real-time traffic updates to voice control, navigation and Apple CarPlay preparation. Park distance control, cruise control with braking function, LED headlights and Dynamic Stability Control are among the other highlights of the standard.
Verdict: the BMW Z4 is a winning mixture of traditional front engine, rear drive soft-top roadster and state-of-the-art performance car. Handling is brilliant, thanks to an extremely rigid body structure, new front and rear axle design and variable sports steering. The soft-top makes for a larger boot compared with a folding steel roof as well as a lower centre of gravity, while it also has better NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) suppression than its predecessor. The result is a car that will turn heads and deliver all a keen driver could ask.