The BMW Z4 is an upmarket soft-top sports car with a posh interior that’s packed with cutting-edge kit but it isn’t as exciting to drive as some less high-tech soft tops.
The BMW Z4 is a grown-up sports car which strikes a good balance between being fun to drive and easy to live with every day. Sure, it isn’t as fast as a Porsche 718 Boxster around a race track or as economical as an Audi TT Roadster on the motorway, but you’ll love its dramatic styling and high-tech cabin.
The old BMW Z4 wasn’t exactly memorable, but this latest car sets the record straight with its edgy front end, bulbous backside and doors with more creases than an origami swan.
If you’re hoping the BMW Z4’s cabin looks equally exciting you might be a bit disappointed. Everything feels lovely and plush, but you’ll find plenty of bits and bobs borrowed from the latest BMW 3 Series – it’s all very nice, but you’d hope a sports car felt a bit more, well, sporty.
At least the seats are really nice and supportive and you can get them finished in a range of leather colours from subtle black to in-your-face red. They’re really comfortable too, but it’s a bit cheeky that electric adjustment and lumbar support cost extra on all but top-spec cars.
You won’t have anything to complain about when you start fiddling with the BMW Z4’s infotainment system, though. It comes with two high-resolution screens as standard and responds to a range of voice commands that’d give Siri a run for its money. It isn’t just better than the systems in the Porsche and Audi, it’s just about the best infotainment system on the market.
Some soft-tops take you back to the bare-bones of what a sports car should be but the high-tech BMW Z4 takes a very different route.
The BMW Z4’s soft top is also one of the best around. With it up, the Z4 feels just like a conventional hardtop to drive. Retract it – which you can do in just 10 seconds at up to 30mph – and you can still have a conversation or listen to the radio at motorway speeds.
If that sounds like the sort of journey you do regularly, you can get the BMW Z4 with plenty of advanced driver assistance systems which make long trips feel like nipping to the shops. There’s even a feature that’ll accelerate, brake and steer for you on motorways.
If you’d rather be in control yourself – it is a sports car after all – the upgraded M Sport plus package will be a much more tempting option. This adds bigger brakes, lowered suspension and a clever differential to Sport models to make the Z4 feel right at home on twisty country roads. However, even with all this kit (which comes as standard on M Sport and M40i models), the Z4 doesn’t feel as agile as the Porsche 718 Boxster.
Sure, 340hp M40i models are pretty rapid and all versions have plenty of grip from their wide tyres and big alloy wheels, but no Z4 can match the lighter, more agile Porsche for outright cross-country pace and smiles per mile.
You shouldn’t let that put you off the BMW Z4, though – it’s still an extremely capable car that’s very easy to live with every day and comes with some seriously impressive equipment as standard.
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