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 i...
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....