BMW launched its Z3 roadster as a 1997 model and followed in 1999 with a hatchback coupe last year, along with high-performance M versions of both (covered separately under the M coupe and roadster). Both the Z3 and the M coupe and roadster are built at BMWs plant in Spartanburg, S.C.
The changes in the 2000 model include free scheduled maintenance for the first three years/36,000 miles of ownership and two-stage-type front airbags that deploy based on crash severity.
While some cars get a nose job to freshen their appearance, the Z3 gets a tail job. The Z3 roadster with the 2.5-liter engine which BMW oddly calls the Z3 2.3 gets bulging rear fenders, a new trunk lid and L-shaped taillights to match the model with the 2.8-liter engine. The Z3 2.8 already had those styling features.
Though the coupe and roadster share major styling cues, the coupe has different body panels from the windshield on back. The roadster comes with a standard manual convertible top. A power soft-top and a removable hardtop with a glass rear window are optional. The convertible top, which has a plastic rear window, gains a cloth lining designed to reduce wind noise.
The two-seat Z3 2.3 model comes with vinyl upholstery, and the Z3 2.8 models add standard leather. All models have a standard power drivers seat, which helps compensate for the lack of an adjustable steering wheel. The 2.8 models add a power passenger seat.
Under the Hood
Originally available with a four-cylinder engine, the rear-drive Z3 now comes with a choice of inline-six-cylinders. The roadster is available with a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter or a 193-hp 2.8-liter. The coupe comes with the 2.8-liter engine only. Both engines are available with a five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes, traction control and an anti-skid system a new standard feature for 2000 are included on all models.
When the Z3 debuted with a four-cylinder engine, it was hard to justify its higher price versus the Mazda Miata. With the addition of six-cylinder engines and several active safety features, the Z3 has become a better value.