The BMW Z4 was redesigned last year to be bigger inside and out than its predecessor; the redesign also packed more power under the hood and more luxury under its new retractable hardtop roof. It looks less controversial, in part because the prior soft-top Z4 was among the most daring designs of its day. Its successor has more curves and fewer chisels, and the convertible hardtop eliminates the need for a dedicated coupe model.
Trim levels include the sDrive30i and turbocharged sDrive35i. Both have standard Dynamic Drive Control, a feature that allows drivers to vary steering and accelerator settings to suit their tastes. Anyone considering the entry-level Z4 might cross-shop Nissan's redesigned 370Z; a loaded Z4, on the other hand, could compete with the Mercedes-Benz SLK, Audi TT and Porsche Boxster.
New for 2010
There are no significant changes for 2010.
BMW says all surface lines strive toward a point on the road ahead. Such is easily evident in the headlights and hood. BMW's dual-kidney grille remains front and center, but the old Z4's odd lines and offset surfaces are largely gone.
- Standard 17-inch alloy wheels
- Optional 18-inch wheels
- Optional adaptive suspension
- Optional automatic high beams
The two-seat interior offers noticeably more headroom and legroom than the previous Z4, as well as more storage options — albeit few compared to a conventional luxury sedan or coupe. BMW claims all-around visibility increased 14 percent over the last Z4, thanks to larger side and rear windows.
Available sun-reflective leather reflects infrared radiation better to render less-than-scorching surfaces on a sunny day. Other options include leather-upholstered dashboard and door panels in the sDrive35i, as well as dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats and a heated steering wheel. There is an optional trunk pass-through.
The Z4's iDrive unit, included with an optional navigation system, is BMW's latest and best version, revamped with better graphics, more shortcut keys and improved menu functionality.
- Standard simulated leather seats
- Optional leather upholstery
- Optional upgraded sound system
- Optional iDrive system
Under the Hood
The sDrive30i's 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine makes 255 horsepower and 220 pounds-feet of torque, working with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. A twin-turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder with 300 hp and 300 pounds-feet of torque powers the sDrive35i, which comes with a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Both automatics have steering-wheel paddle shifters.
- 255-hp 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder (sDrive30i)
- 300-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder (sDrive35i)
- Six-speed manual or automatic transmissions (sDrive30i)
- Six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmissions (sDrive35i)
- Standard Dynamic Drive Control
The standard stability system employs a brake drying function to keep the discs dry during wet weather. Front and seat-mounted side-impact airbags are standard, as are four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, with larger discs on the sDrive35i. Traction control is standard and the electronic stability system has a high-threshold performance mode. Other standard safety features include:
- Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes
- Head-protection extension on side airbags
- Knee airbag