2019 BMW Z4 review: the Roadster returns

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The 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive30i Roadster, to call it by its full name, marks the return of a 2-seater sports car to BMW’s portfolio. This time around, the Z4 comes with a power-folding fabric roof instead of a retractable hardtop, which is good because it’s a lighter arrangement.

Having a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and not a 6-cylinder motor also keeps the weight down. The extra benefit here is that the steering is nicely responsive.

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The new BMW Z4 runs around $50,695.

While every beholder views with a different eye, the new Z4 nevertheless will likely be considered more pleasing, well proportioned and cohesively designed than its predecessor. Under the exterior, meanwhile, is a structure that BMW claims is the stiffest it’s ever built for an open-topped car. The suspension can be tuned to a finer degree, and the annoying body flex plaguing many other convertibles is absent here.

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This version of the Z4 (after an absence of a few years) is the best that BMW has come up with so far.

What’s new for 2019?

The name is familiar, but the 2019 Z4 is completely new. 

What we like
  • Contemporary styling
  • Well tuned chassis
  • Considerable amount of power
What we don’t like
  • No Android Auto smartphone integration
How much?
Fuel economy

The 2019 Z4 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. It produces 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, driving the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. There’s no manual option, but the Z4 has paddle shifters mounted beneath the steering wheel and a launch control mode.

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The Environmental Protection Agency puts fuel consumption at 25 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in combined driving.

Standard features and options

The 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive30i Roadster ($50,695) comes as a single model.

The comprehensive list of standard equipment includes 18-in alloy wheels, a black soft top with a heated glass rear window, LED exterior lighting, rain-sensing wipers, push-button start, selectable drive modes, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, variable-ratio steering, 14-way power-adjustable M Sport seats with memory settings, simulated leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, self-dimming rearview and driver’s-side mirrors, ambient cabin lighting, a universal garage door opener, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, rollover protection, a 10.25-in digital driver information display, a 10.25-in infotainment touch screen, navigation with real-time traffic updates, Bluetooth for phone and audio, AM, FM, and HD radio, a CD and MP3 player, two USB ports and a 12-month subscription to Apple












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  CarPlay smartphone integration.

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The Z4 comes with a power-folding fabric roof.

A Convenience pack brings a self-parking system, keyless entry and ignition and satellite radio. A Premium package includes the Convenience features and adds a head-up display, heated front seats, wireless charging and Wi-Fi. The Executive package has everything that’s been mentioned so far plus automatic high beams and a 12-speaker 408-watt Harman Kardon audio system.

A Driving Assistance package brings blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning. A Track Handling package consists of uprated M Sport brakes, an M Sport limited-slip rear differential and an adaptive M-tuned suspension.

Other options include front and rear parking sensors, active cruise control, remote start, real leather upholstery and a heated steering wheel. Trunk space reaches a reasonably roomy 9.9 cu ft. There’s also a luggage pass-through.

Safety

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have crash-tested the 2019 Z4 at this time. Don’t be put off by that, though, as the Z4 has plenty of airbags and other safety equipment.

Behind the wheel

If you engage launch mode, the Z4 has a respectable 0-to-60 mph time of 5.2 seconds. This entertaining amount of acceleration is complemented by a composed suspension that brings the kind of precision that buyers desire in a sports car and enough suppleness to keep passengers happy.

Both seats have plenty of adjustment configurations so you can find the ideal position, and they provide ample cushioning and support as well. Even with the fabric roof down, the cabin remains unflustered, thanks in part to a standard-issue wind deflector. Should the weather start to rain on the Z4’s parade, the roof can close in a swift 10 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph.

Other cars to consider
  • 2019 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider — It’s not half as civilized as the Z4, but it’s much more visceral.
  • 2019 Audi TT Roadster — It comes with 228 hp, and it’s the only car in this class to have all-wheel drive.
  • 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata — This one is down on power compared with the Z4 and all the other alternatives mentioned here (the MX-5 has 181 hp), but it’s so full of accessible and affordable thrills.
  • 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class — This is the only premium 2-seater roadster to come with a folding hardtop. The SLC 300 packs 241 hp, the AMG SLC 43 has 385 hp.
  • 2019 Porsche 718 Boxster — This is a midengine beauty with sublime handling talents. The range kicks off with 300 hp. The starting price, however, is $10,000 more than the 2019 Z4.
  • Used Porsche 911 — It’s become an icon because it’s so wonderful, and involving, and well-engineered and multitalented and … considere Porsche’s certified preowned (CPO) program.

See: The ultimate car-buying checklist—for even the most experienced shopper

Autotrader’s advice

If the new Z4 stirs your coffee, then go for it. Be aware that an even more stirring 382-hp M40i version arrives for 2020.



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