All-new BMW Z4 faces its toughest test: reviews by the world’s top motoring journos

BMW built the previous Z4 roadster until 2016 and we’ve had to wait over two years for the new one to debut and to hopefully improve upon the original Z4’s formula. The 2019 BMW Z4 has a new and bespoke platform, probably the best design in the series, and much more tech than ever before. Now journalists have finally gotten their hands on it, and this is what they have to say!

2019 BMW Z4 Video Reivew

For a car like this, the driving dynamics are still what interests keen drivers. Sure, there will be those buyers that will covet the new Z4 just so they can cruise around and pose in it, but BMW is billing this as a more driver-focused car, one that will put a smile on your face if you show it a series of turns.

And according to the people who have had a chance to try the 2019 Z4 already, it is definitely sportier feeling than the car it replaces. It feels planted and stable through the corners and the tail does step out in a controlled manner and when it has stepped out, the car can be controlled with the throttle alone. It’s a much better dynamic package whose only bad point is the steering which reviewers say is basically devoid of feel - precise, but very muted.

All these reviews have made it plainly clear that the version of the Z4 that you want is the M40i, with the B58 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine. For the European market, the unit makes 335 horsepower, but for U.S. buyers, that figure is bumped up to 382 horsepower; both pump out the same 500 Nm (369 pound-feet) of torque, though, the American version is nearly half a second quicker to sprint to 62 mph (100 km/h.)

It’s this engine that dominates the experience of driving the new Z4 - it dominates the experience of driving any smaller BMW it equips, but since the Z4 is a roadster, you get to hear all of its glorious mechanical noises. I’m pretty sure that if you get to drive the Z4 M40i first, then swap into the sDrive30i, you really won’t like it as much primarily because that amazing soundtrack is replaced by something far less characterful.

Reviewers say that its chassis feels like it could handle even more power and that, even in its most powerful versions, the car feels like it has everything under control for you. They say the car has remarkable levels of grip which kind of makes up for the numb steering; apparently the Z4 was benchmarked for handling against the M2, so the standards for it were set really high from the start.

And, while the Z4 is not as tactile as the M2, it’s probably about as capable in the real world. The M2 is a taught track-day-honed machine designed to put a smile on the driver’s face at any cost, whereas the Z4 has a broader swathe of talents that it needs to possess in order to be declared good in its segment.

Also praiseworthy, according to the reviewers, is the interior which certainly feels like a modern BMW interior, yet you wouldn’t be able to tell where all the bits came from. Sure, it’s a bit of a parts bin affair here, but the components have been used wisely and the car does have its own character inside. From the entire current BMW range, it is probably closest to the interior of the new 8-Series coupe.

There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to tech, either. It has the latest iDrive infotainment, virtual gauge cluster, and a complete suite of active and passive safety aids. Even the fact that it has a soft top roof, instead of a folding hardtop, is seen as a good decision by those who have tried out the car. It takes 15 seconds to go up or down, and it offers excellent sound and temperature insulation from the outside world - plus it also weighs less than a hardtop and therefore is less ballast to carry around all the time.

Overall, the Z4 looks and sounds like a proper BMW roadster of the time. It is sportier than the model it replaces, but at the same time, it isn’t designed to be the last word in handling sharpness. Just how good it is on a twisty road, we’ll have to find out ourselves when we get behind the wheel of one, but we have a hunch that the related (fixed top coupe) Toyota Supra will be sharper and more direct than this and maybe even more tail happy.

2019 BMW Z4 drivetrain specifications
BMW Z4 sDrive30i BMW Z4 M40i
Engine type B46 B58
Cylinders 4 6
Valves per cylinder 4 4
Stroke mm 94.6 94.6
Bore mm 82.0 82.0
Displacement cm³ 1,998 2,998
Compression rate :1 10.2 11.0
Engine power 255 HP @ 5,000 - 6,500 RPM 382 Hp @ 5,000 – 6,500 RPM
Engine torque 295 LB-FT @ 1,500-4,400 RPM 369 LB-FT @ 1,600 – 4,500 RPM
0 to 60 mph 5.2 seconds 3.9 seconds
Top speed 155 mph 155 mph

Further Reading

2019 BMW Z4 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 BMW Z4.

2017 BMW Concept Z4 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review of the 2017 BMW Concept Z4.

2015 BMW Z4 - Driven Exterior Test drive
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Read our driven review on the previous BMW Z4.

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