• (4.7) 35 reviews
  • MSRP: $5,101–$13,581
  • Body Style: Convertible
  • Engine: 184-hp, 2.5-liter I-6 (premium)
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel Drive
  • Transmission: 5-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
  • Seats: 2
2003 BMW Z4

Our Take on the Latest Model 2003 BMW Z4

2003 BMW Z4 Reviews

Vehicle Overview
After seven seasons on the market, BMW’s Z3 series of sports cars has been replaced by an all-new Z4 duo. Introduced at the Paris Motor Show in September 2002, the Z4 two-seaters went on sale in November 2002.

Not only do the new models look considerably different than their predecessors, but they also behave in an improved manner. Electric power steering, for instance, is a first for BMW. Standard run-flat tires eliminate the spare. The Z4’s trunk capacity has grown by half, to 9.2 cubic feet; when the soft-top is down, the space decreases to 8.5 cubic feet. A hardtop will be available for the 2004 model year.

“People like to have emotional, assertive, aggressive products,” says Ed Robbins, BMW’s executive vice president of operations. Even so, no more super-performance M editions are available — as they were with the Z3 — at least for now.

While coming up with ideas, Exterior Designer Anders Warming studied the works of Picasso and was influenced by the old Lamborghini Miura. “This is an extremely passionate product,” Warming says, breaking down the design process into proportion, surface and detail.

Far different in appearance than the Z3, the Z4 displays a blend of convex and concave surfaces, with deeply sculpted bodysides and twin belt lines. The Z4 has more sharp edges than its rounded predecessor, especially at the rear where an integrated spoiler sits. The Z4 displays BMW’s familiar twin-kidney grille that is slightly reshaped and set between distinctive, neatly integrated headlights. Relatively long in wheelbase at 98.2 inches, the Z4 has short overhangs at the front and rear and a low, set-back seating position. Round side blinker indicators that protrude from each front fender are a design element rather than an add-on.

Body stiffness has more than doubled. The hood is aluminum, and the soft-top components are made of magnesium. Equipped with a heated glass rear window, the soft-top features an integrated tonneau cover. Manual operation is standard, but the German automaker expects most Z4s to have the optional power top. Roll bars sit behind the seats, and a sport suspension that is similar to that in the former M coupe and roadster is optional. High-intensity-discharge headlights are also optional.

Other than its two-passenger capacity, the Z4’s cockpit is completely different from its predecessor’s. Warming refers to its openness by noting that the interior should be a “constant reminder” of what the exterior looks like. The instruments are well spaced on a distinctive, clean-looking dashboard. Full-width dash panels are either woodgrained or brushed aluminum, which looks especially appealing.

Under the Hood
A 2.5-liter inline-six-cylinder engine produces 184 horsepower in the Z4 2.5i, while the Z4 3.0i uses a 225-hp, 3.0-liter inline-six. The Z4 2.5i gets a five-speed-manual transmission, and the Z4 3.0i is equipped with a standard six-speed-manual gearbox. Both models have the option of a five-speed-automatic transmission with a provision for manually selected Steptronic gear changes. A sequential six-speed-manual gearbox will be available later in the 2003 model year.

BMW’s Dynamic Driving Control features a Sport button and is offered with the Sport Package. BMW claims the Z4 2.5i can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, while the Z4 3.0i achieves that job in 5.9 seconds.

Side-impact airbags, knee airbags and antilock brakes are standard. A cutoff switch for the front passenger airbag is included.

Driving Impressions
If the Z3 was an enjoyable sports car, then the new Z4 ranks as a serious thoroughbred that takes full advantage of its pedigree. Its styling might be controversial, but the Z4’s road behavior is not. Its precision handling continues to be a BMW hallmark, and it excels in other ways as well.

Acceleration in the Z4 3.0i is forceful even with the automatic transmission. The automatic shifts smoothly and responds swiftly, which makes the Steptronic manual-selection provision less necessary. You get plenty of low-end torque when starting off or passing, which happens with silken smoothness.

The Z4 2.5i with the luscious manual shift and well-behaved clutch isn’t far behind in performance. Except for a subtle but alluring exhaust note, the Z4 is quiet all around.

Just a touch of road wander was noted in the Z4 3.0i, but the defiantly taut suspension delivers a reasonably smooth ride on all but the harshest surfaces. Nasty bumps may be hit hard without losing even a sliver of control. The Z4’s magnificent seats are satisfyingly cushioned and fully supportive.


Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com
Posted on 3/26/03

Consumer Reviews


Average based on 35 reviews

Write a Review

Great driving car!!!

by LAKEDUDE from murfreesboro,tn on October 23, 2017

This is the most fun I've had ever owning a car!!! I've had lots of cars in my 45 years of driving but my z4 is just awesome!! We sold our jeep and were looking for another vehicle to drive back and f... Read Full Review

Read All Consumer Reviews

2 Trims Available

Photo of undefined
Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2003 BMW Z4 trim comparison will help you decide.

BMW Z4 Articles

2003 BMW Z4 Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports


There are currently 4 recalls for this car.

Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $5,000 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained


Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.


Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

Roadside Assistance

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

Other Years