Let’s start right out with looks, because the all-new BMW Z4 sDrive30i Z4 certainly has a visual presence.
Viewed dead on from the front or the rear, it is striking. The angular headlights feature stacked elements rather than BMW’s long-established side-by-side layout. With its muscular haunches and interesting contours, the rear has a visual width that makes this Z4 look bigger and more grown up than its predecessors.
And although it is 3.8 inches longer than the previous Z4 at 170.0 inches overall, the new car has a wheelbase that is 1.1 inches shorter. Even with the relatively short wheelbase and my test car’s 19-inch wheels, the ride was surprisingly smooth and well damped, making the Z4 a comfy, road trip-worthy cruiser.
Under the hood, the Z4 sDrive30i four-cylinder is boosted by a twin-scroll turbocharger for a total output of 255 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque. That said, BMW has managed to blend the right amount of engine and exhaust noise depending on how you’re driving and what drive mode you’ve selected — loud in “Sport” and a slight hum while cruising in “Comfort” mode.
The Z4’s steering also is worthy of praise. A few flicks of the steering wheel reveals sharp and quick responses. The gearbox copes well; I’d like to see a manual option, but the ZF eight-speed automatic shifts intelligently and cleanly when left to its own devices, yet manages a good impression of a quick-shifting dual-clutch gearbox under manual control.
So let’s get inside the new Z4, where you’ll find interior materials are top notch. You also will note it features BMW’s super intuitive latest-generation switchgear. Compared to the last-generatiion model, the iDrive infotainment screen looks real sharp, and it is better integrated with the dashboard — now operable by both a controller in the center console and the 10.2-inch touchscreen.
There’s an impressive amount of tech in here, too. My car had wireless phone charging, a head-up display, and active cruise control.
The pitter patter of summer rains hitting the roof reminded me that the Z4 has ditched the previous model’s hardtop roof in favor of a power-retractable soft top. Not only is it lighter, but it allows more cargo space — 9.9 cubic feet regardless of whether the top is up or down. Best part is it motors up or down in just 10 seconds, and it can be operated at speeds of up to 31 mph.
Mileage-wise, you sure cannot complain with a fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon and 32 mph highway.
I drove a well-optioned Z4 with a price of $63,545. A more modest Z4 will get you closer to its starting price of $50,695, making it a bit more expensive than the Audi TT and almost $10,000 less than the excellent Porsche 718 Boxster.
So really stood out is that the interior is driver focused with sporty digital gauges and there’s plenty of room inside. Overall, the Z4 is simple and classy without a bunch of overcompensating frills. I like this car.
Grant Miller is the publisher of Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277 or via email at Grant@CommunityNewspapers.com.