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2019 BMW Z4 sDrive30i Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, BMW, Test Drives

Much has been debated on the formation of a joint venture with BMW and Toyota on the new Z4 and Supra. With both vehicles supposedly having their own unique traits despite sharing a platform the conclusion is starting to point towards the two being very different. After spending a week with the new BMW Z4 equipped with the base-level 4-cylinder turbocharged engine it’s going to be easy to accept the potential fact that the two are very different and BMW has once again successfully built a respected roadster.

The new 2019 BMW Z4 fits the mold of something somewhat unique in that it’s a low-slung-long-hooded German roadster that was well perceived from its introduction as the Z3. Since then, the new Z4 has carried a tradition into today’s technological world to thrive off of the many advancements found in the brand. Starting with a 2-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that spools up rather fast to get things moving with its 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque that maxes out from 1,500 rpm on up to 4,400 rpm.

In the new Z4 for the base sDrive30i trim level, the dual-scroll turbocharged 4-cylinder engine gets mated the same 8-speed automatic as found in the more powerful Z4 sDrive M40i, a ZF-sourced unit that does well to shift quickly and exhibit a direct connection to the engine without much torque converter slippage. I found the 4-cylinder turbo engine to be lacking a bit and rather on the slow side for the Z4, especially considering its heavier than its 4-cylinder-equipped predecessor by about 25 pounds.

One might conclude that BMW is headed in the wrong direction here for performance, but only if you overlook the perfect 50/50 weight distribution, available M Sport package, a respectable 0-60 mpg time of 5.2 seconds, decent fuel economy at 25 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, and new body proportions that make for a more agreeable interior space and availability of several tech options. It’s possible that the smooth power delivered in the turbo 4-cylinder is somewhat deceiving. Still, the choice trim for the new 2019 Z4 is the sDrive M40i, which features 382 horsepower and 396 pound-feet of torque, enough grunt to reach 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds.

Having had the new Z4 sDrive30i in my possession for a week I found it to be a head-turner, somewhat thanks to the eye-popping Misano Blue Metallic paint job and M Sport aesthetics. The new soft-top in place of a hard convertible top in the new Z4 adds a nice contrast of the bright exterior paint. The lines of the new Z4 look more menacing abet wider than ever before with somewhat of an elongated kidney grill design that is different from the rest of the BMW lineup. The proportions of the Z4 fit the expected mold of its classy design that dates back to when James Bond first found himself behind the wheel of the Z3 during its introduction. Overall, the Z4 looks the part of a compact but luxurious roadster up to par for German performance standards.

The interior of the new 2019 Z4 is all modern-day BMW with much of the controls downplayed to a size to fit the Z4’s character but retain the latest touchscreen interface and redundant iDrive controls that we’re now accustomed to. Much of what’s found in the new Z4 mimics that of any other properly equipped BMW of today but with seating areas more structured around a lower center of gravity and more space for the two occupants. Sitting in the Z4 feels bigger than it looks initially with plentiful legroom and good support that doesn’t dig too much to be overly supportive to the point of being uncomfortable on long trips.

The new Z4 rides well but tends to be a bit looser than I would like in its normal Comfort drive model. Placing the vehicle into Sport, Sport+, or a properly-configured Sport Individual setting where the adaptive suspension dampers firm up is more of a desirable ride quality for myself. Moreover, the Sport and Sport Plus modes advance the throttle mapping sets up the transmission to take more advantage of the turbo 4-cylinder’s sweet spots for a livelier drive.

A hard pill to swallow with the new BMW Z4 is its pricing, which starts decently at $49,700 but quickly climbs to over $63,000 for my nicely-equipped test vehicle. Mind you, at $63,545 out the door, my test vehicle still comes with the smaller engine where opting for the sDrive M40i and its turbocharged 6-cylinder with 382 horsepower will start off at $63,700, which is a $14,000 difference at the base pricing level. The Z4 sDrive M40i does add a few features that are otherwise optional on the sDrive30i but adding up some popular option packages will set you back about $68,000 for the Z4 sDrive M40i, which isn’t that far off from my test vehicle’s final price. The Z4 is great but I would opt to pay a few grand more and get the more-powerful engine in the sDrive M40i model. At least with the bigger engine your Z4 won’t be overshadowed by the new Toyota Supra, the Z4’s not-so-distant relative.


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