Many of my biggest pet peeves come from the world of marketing. And none bigger than when something is advertised as “new and improved.” That line always makes me wonder just what the hell was wrong with the original; makes me wonder just what they did to actually improve the original? Did they take air out of the potato chip bag? Make if more ‘chocolaty’?
Usually the ‘new and improved’ moniker is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. In the end you still have the same amount of air in that potato chip bag.
BMW, however, has proven me wrong.
The last time I spent a week with the Z4 roadster I was not all that impressed. That was in 2015, and I quickly found It was too small to have any sort of practicality; the design seemed outdated, the ‘tech’ was more like something you’d see, and the hard shell convertible top was clunky and hard to operate, and because of the way it was stowed what little room the trunk had was gone. I wasn’t too surprised then when BMW said it was discontinuing them after the 2016 model. Good move.
For 2019 though BMW brought back the BMW Z4 Roadster; it’s the 6th generation, and to say it’s ‘new and improved’ is putting it mildly. The redesign only hints at the former generation and in fact makes it better. They put it on a platform shared by the new Toyota Supra (a car I’ve been lusting after for a while now). They made it longer by 3.8 inches, 2.9 inches wider, and a half-inch taller. While all that may not seem like much, the new Z4 finally actually looks like the proper roadster it was meant to be.
But wait there’s more.
A folding soft-top roof replaces that clunky retractable hard top. The new top leaves a fair amount of room in the trunk and can be dropped in 10 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph; and it can be retracted or raised remotely via the key fob.
The interior got that much needed update with a 10.2-inch touchscreen in the center of the dashboard and it’s now outfitted with BMW’s latest-generation switchgear. You can also option in such things as a Wi-Fi hotspot and a heads-up display along with advanced tech such as adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlamps, and a self-parking feature. All models have low-speed automated emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and forward-collision warning.
My tester for the week was the sDrive30i. Under the hood was the 2.0 liter 4-cylinder turbocharged powerplant with 15 more horses and 35 lb-ft more torque over the previous Z4 and delivers 255 horses and 295 lb-ft. torque. The M40i is the more performance-based variant and has a 3.0 liter 6-cylinder with 382 hp and 369 lb-ft. torque. Us ugly Americans will have to settle with an 8-speed automatic transmission as manuals will only be offered in Europe.
There’s a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and iDrive 7.0, with adaptive M-Sport chassis, sport steering, and limited slip differential standard on the M40i and optional on the sDrive30i. My tester had the iDrive 7.0 optioned in.
The seating position seems to be an improvement being a bit lower perhaps, but with a higher front window giving more room for adjustments. While a bit disappointed that I had only the 2.0 for my week, a 0-60 run in just over 5 seconds told me the 2.0 would do just fine thank you very much.
On the road with the adjustable sport suspension tuned up the Z4 performed like the roadster it was meant to be. There is no gentle floating over bumps; nearly every bit of the road can be felt. But that’s okay, because a roadster is not meant to be some sort of luxury vehicle that coddles you in a soft embrace. A true roadster should allow the driver to feel the pavement, and with the top down feel the experience.
And this new Z4 does just that.
Normally putting the top down in then middle of a Florida summer is not a good idea. But I just had to, and I did not regret it. Standing back and looking at this new BMW Z4 with that top down gave me one thought: “This is a damn sexy car” …without me in it of course.
Bring on the Boxster the TT, the SLC, BMW’s ‘new and improved’ Z4 really is ‘new and improved’. The air is out of the bag and the Z4 is ready to come out and play.
2023 UPDATE: Since the 2019 debuted BMW has changed the model very little. They made Android Auto and satellite radio standard, and for 2023 made a few minor tweaks to the outside and the sDrive 30i model comes with M Sport package as standard. Maybe the biggest change though came in 2020 when the M40i with a turbocharged six-cylinder engine was made widely available. And the 2023 M40i was the model BMW gave me a recent week with. One of the things I lamented in 2019 was the lack of spunk from the 2.0 225 ponies. Turns out the 3.0 liter with its 382 horses and 369 lb-ft of torque is in the Goldilocks zone: it’s just right.
With the additional power 0-60 came in just 3.4 seconds. This made an already fun roadster even more so. Of course, with more fun comes a bigger price tag, $73,620, but you buy a roadster for little more than fun, not some sort of practicality. However, I also actually had to use the trunk during this go-around and was pleasantly surprised at how large, and useful it really is.
I can understand why BMW has made only small changes since the model debuted. Why would they? After all, it’s pretty close to perfection, and with more umph under the hood, it’s even better.
The 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive 30i
MSRP (as tested): $53,545
Engine: I-4 2.0 turbocharged engine, 255 hp @ 5,000 rpm, 295 lb-ft. torque @ 1,550 – 4,400 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 25 city, 32 highway, 28 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 38 mpg
Base Curb Weight: 3,287 lbs.
Length: 170.7 in.
Width: 73.4 in.
Height: 51.4 in.
Wheelbase: 97.2 in.
Front track: 63.7 in.
Rear track: 63.5 in.
Ground clearance: 4.7 in.
Cargo volume: 9.9 ft³
Shoulder width front: 54.3 in.
Legroom front: 42.2 in.
Headroom front: 38.9 in.
Basic Miles/km: 50,000
Basic Years: 4
Corrosion Miles/km: Unlimited
Corrosion Years: 12
Drivetrain Miles/km: 50,000
Drivetrain Years: 4
Maintenance Miles/km: 50,000
Maintenance Years: 4
Roadside Assistance Miles/km: Unlimited
Roadside Assistance Years: 4
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