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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

Owners Rating
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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.

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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.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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