BMW Z4 roadster (2009-2016) - Engines, drive & performance

Plenty of powerful engines, but the BMW Z4 still doesn’t feel very sporty

Carbuyer Rating

2.9 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

The BMW Z4 is not as engaging to drive as the Porsche 718 Boxster, but it does feel fun in corners thanks to minimal body lean, decent grip and weighty steering.

As long as you don’t choose one of the more expensive M Sport models, which have stiff suspension unsuited to the UK’s poor road surfaces, the Z4 is also a comfortable car.

Most of the range comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, with the option of a six-speed automatic with steering-column shift paddles costing about £1,900. The range-topping sDrive35is gets a seven-speed automatic as standard, though.

BMW Z4 petrol engines

Despite its name, the basic Z4 sDrive18i is actually powered by a 2.0-litre engine – the same one fitted to the sDrive20i and sDrive 28i. Its 154bhp can take the car from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 131mph, but it needs to be worked hard to do it. It can struggle a bit on hills, too.

Despite a modest increase in power (181bhp), the sDrive20i feels a lot quicker and gets from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds on the way to 146mph. Moving up to the sDrive28i swells power to 242bhp, so 0-62mph takes 5.7 seconds and the top speed increases to 155mph. This blend of performance without a financial penalty in everyday running costs makes it our top choice.

The sDrive35i delivers an even greater leap in performance thanks to its big 3.0-litre engine, which produces 302bhp and gets the car from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds, while its top speed is also limited to 155mph. The sDrive35is is fastest Z4 of all. It gets from 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds and could easily sail past its top speed of 155mph if it wasn't also limited.

Recommended

BMW Z4 roadster review
BMW Z4 Roadster
BMW Z4
24 Jan 2022

BMW Z4 roadster review

Top 10 best convertibles 2022
2021 MINI Convertible driving with roof down
Best cars
8 Sep 2021

Top 10 best convertibles 2022

Most Popular

Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Car technology
22 Jun 2022

Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers
Fiat 500 e front corner
Deals
24 Jun 2022

Best new car deals 2022: this week’s top car offers

Top 10 cheapest electric cars 2022
2021 Citroen Ami
Best cars
16 Jun 2022

Top 10 cheapest electric cars 2022

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
23 Mar 2022

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Car buying
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
20 Jun 2022

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
25 Apr 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Nissan Leaf front
Best cars
3 May 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
24 Jun 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022