1996 Z3

Consumer Reviews

1996 BMW Z3

$50 - $17,638  MSRP Range
1996 BMW Z3

Review Score

4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5

11 Reviews
Score Breakdown
4.2 out of 5 stars Comfort
4.5 out of 5 stars Value for the Money
4.2 out of 5 stars Interior Design
4.2 out of 5 stars Reliability
4.8 out of 5 stars Performance
4.9 out of 5 stars Exterior Styling

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What Drivers Are Saying

1 - 10 of 11 reviews

5 out of 5 stars

Super Model Looks:Excellent Roadster for the Money

by Teleny from Eastern PA on Fri Oct 15 2010

I have had a 98 z3 for two years after lusting after one when I was in grad school. I bought it as a gift to myself, and the car has been a great value, draws admiring looks and people often tell me it's beautiful. Among tThe pros are the show stopping looks. It has the classic short deck, long sexy hood that is super sexy. I think the car looks best in the metallic colors, although black and red can work well also. I have a 1.9 manual and while it is certainly not fast, it has enough power and excellent balance to be great fun on winding roads. I would avoid the 1.9 automatic, b/c I can't imagine it would be powerful enough to get the job done. I test drove a 2.8 and 2.3 and found the smaller engine not much more powerful than the 4cylinder. The 2.8, 3.0 and M versions are way faster. The gear shift is excellent-short and snickety. The steering yeilds good road feel and although not as 'alive' as an unassisted unit, is very good. The suspension is suprisingly supple and copes with all manner of road imperfections, while also being stiff enough to be good in the curves. There is some scuttle shake-the platform is essentially e30 (BMW claims it's e36 but I have my doubts) and not as solid as it could be. Reliability-particularly on the 4 is very good. Z3s tend to have pretty predictable problems: window guides, interior trim, radiators need to be replaced at 100,000 miles, water pumps, etc. Mainly maintence kind of stuff. If you look on a BMW forum you can get a run down on these minor issues. I hear the 6s have more problems, but keep in mind z3s are at the tail end of bullet-proof BMW build quality. So these cars are capable of some pretty big miles. Downside-the interiors were exercises in cost cutting. Kind of cheap for the money they cost new. I particularly hate the cheap carpet-my E30 3 series has really plush carpet. Still, everything is functional, although the Ms are a bit garish in the inside if you ask me. The WORST feature, although easily fixed is that the factory exhaust leaves the car SILENT. A roadster (try classic Alfa, Fiat MGB) should have a rasping, burbling engine note. Not so with BMW's little beauty. We call it 'quiet hour.' Even after an after market ANSA muffler it still is kind of lame when it comes to that crucial part of the roadster experience. On the other hand, part of the 'problem' is that the little 4 is soooo smooth that you'd think it a six or eight. So it's not entirely a strike against the Zed. Overall, the z3 is a great little roadster. Excellent value, handling, adequete to sensationional acceleration, stunning looks and BMW cachet. You can't go wrong here....

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

15 out of 16 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Love this car

by classy mamma from Hurst, Texas on Mon Dec 26 2011

Not what I expected IT WAS BETTER love this car good milage about 21 22 car get a lot of attention easy to get in and out of traffic

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

My best car ever

by Classy Lady from Union KY on Sun Oct 03 2010

If you ever want a car that actual makes you feel good this is the one for you. It is just a joy to drive, where ever I go people make great comments about my Z3, it is now 13 years old and looks like it rolled off the assembly line yesterday. I have had many other cars but never one that gives me so much pleasure.

3 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

4 out of 6 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

Z3 as a first car? Well yes, actually.

by Tigerdog from Sunny San Diego on Fri Jul 11 2014

As our teen will be driving daily to school, we began our search for a commuter car. His criteria: manual transmission, convertible or removable top prefered (actually required by law here in Southern California, I think.) Our criteria included relatively good gas mileage and reasonabe maintenance and reliability. The initial list included Honda Del Sol, Miata, Toyota MR2 - usual suspects in the inexpensive fun runabout category. Z3 was not on the list until we caught a few salient facts: - most Del Sols are beaters, automatics or on salvage titles . High mileage examples still command premium prices despite this. - MR2s and Miatas command higher than expected prices even with >150K miles. - Z3s depreciate so lower-mileage cars are more affordable than higher-mileage versions of the competition, at least around here - Z3 1.9 has surprisingly good fuel economy (23-24 mpg around town, 33 highway for us) Plan on replacing suspension bushings - not a cheap proposition but every BMW more than 10 years old needs this at some point. The design of the suspension means worn bushings will contributed to wander, "rear steer" and tramlining on the freeway. Our pre-purchase inspection found this issue so we weren't surprised after the fact. We made this repair; it was expensive but it transformed the handling and the car is much safer for it. The 1.9 four is peppy, able to get out of its own way without having so much power as to scare the parents of a teen. I spoke to multiple BMW techs who indicate it is one of the most reliable powerplants BMW has made. The 5-speed smooth and the clutch light and positive. Our teen learned to drive the manual with only a couple of lessons. I drove both the 2.3 and 2.8 six cylinder variants before we purchased our Z3, and actually enjoyed the 1.9 more. It felt lighter and provided more responisive cornering without the 6's added mass over the front axle. The interior is cozy, not cramped, and even a 6'2" driver can find a comfortable driving position. There is a variety of options and trims available, too, so look around to find what you really like. The Z3 has good online forums and a strong enthusiast following, too, so maintenance tips and known pitfalls are well documented. Look for and read one of several "what to look for when buying a used Z3" documents and learn while you are searching. We've owned the car for almost a month and are, so far, very happy with our new commuter? Does the teen like it? Absolutely! The biggest problem is getting it away from mom and dad.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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3 out of 5 stars

bmw z3

by fourcylinder from on Tue Apr 26 2011

Car had some real issues; I bought the manual (fit it) and went through it and fought all the problems. As usual. the mechanics on these BMW are great; the electronic not so great. A nice car for a reasonable price.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
3 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
3 out of 5 starsInterior Design
3 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Does recommend this car!!

5 out of 8 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

A great little roadster.

by Dave from CHARLESTON, SC on Wed Feb 28 2018

Handle very well on curvy roads. Great braking power. Very comfortable on long trip. You have to learn how to drive it. It is not a roadster for dummies. Great over all car.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

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5 out of 5 stars

Very Reliable car, drive effortlessly

by tonybmw from Melbourne on Wed Apr 26 2017

This is a perfect 2nd car or Sunday special. California car, clean underneath, no rust or dings. Great for a College student.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a New car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

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4 out of 5 stars

One of the most reliable cars I've owned.

by EC from Mechanicsburg, PA on Fri Aug 11 2017

This car met all my needs and expectations. This has been a trouble free car for the past eleven years.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

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4 out of 5 stars

Z3 comes home

by deammers from Simpsonville, SC on Sun Mar 11 2018

This is a fine example of the Roadsters produced just down the road in Spartanburg in the 90's, from where I retired after 22 years.

3 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
3 out of 5 starsInterior Design
3 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

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4 out of 5 stars

Drive anywhere with fun

by Robbie roadster from New York city on Fri Jun 02 2017

Love it & sorry to sell but I don't get the chance to drive it as much as I want too. Pretty car & fun to drive. 25 mpg on the highway. Excellent mechanics & well taken care of.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Having fun

Does recommend this car!!

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Our Take on the 1996 BMW Z3

Thanks to James Bond and Neiman-Marcus, the 1996 BMW Z3 was approaching cult status even before it went on sale this spring.

As Bond, Pierce Brosnan drove an Olympic Atlanta blue version in the movie Goldeneye, and a limited edition of the German-American roadster gleamed in the pages of the 1995 Neiman-Marcus Christmas Book and sold out almost immediately.

But how will the South Carolina-built Z3 weather the onslaught of two serious competitors due out next year - the Porsche Boxster and the Mercedes-Benz SLK?

We test-drove the basic $28,750 model - $29,320 including destination charges - without the smoke bombs or stinger missiles.

He: It took some getting used to, but I think the Z3... Read More