- Strong, efficient base turbo four (28i)
- Tight, quiet retractable hardtop
- Good ride-and-handling balance
- Excellent dual-clutch automatic
- Storage for smaller items
- Steering lacks feedback
- Not much space
- Somewhat cluttered dash
- High price
The 2015 BMW Z4 is on the pricier side of the roadster segment, but it offers a nice blend of comfort, sport, and technology.
The BMW Z4 has aged gracefully since its redesign in 2009, and it's currently one of the oldest designs in the BMW portfolio. We haven't seen many updates since 2012, though it does offer a new color combination of browns and ivories for the 2015 model year.
That package includes a Sparkling Brown Metallic exterior paint, which is offered exclusively with an Ivory White and Burnt Sienna leather interior.
Inside, the Z4's well-appointed cabin feels typical BMW in its materials and design. The droptop's retractable steel roof delivers coupe-esque levels of isolation from the outside world and it tucks away neatly and rapidly when called upon. Last year's interior updates brought an improved wood trim and nicer leather upholstery, plus a Hyper Orange Package with orange and black accents inside.
The Z4 has yet to be subjected to the NHTSA or the IIHS' crash testing, but there are a lot of safety features included as standard.
The Z4's features generally impart a firs-trate feel, although some of the latest safety tech like automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control isn't available here. That said, BMW last year added high beam assistance, park distance control, and real-time traffic data on models with navigation. A host of additional options like satellite radio and heated seats are on offer, but even a base Z4 is well-equipped; as it should be at this price point.
On the fuel economy front, the 2015 BMW Z4 spans a wide range. The base turbo 4-cylinder rates at 22 mpg city, 34 highway, 26 combined. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the sDrive35is is just 17/24/20 mpg, figures that don't exactly impress.
Against competition like the Porsche Boxster, the BMW Z4 can feel surprisingly unathletic. It's heavier and more tuned to balance speed with comfort. Under its hood sits carry over engin eand transmissions: a 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4 in the sDrive28i and a 300-hp, 3.0-liter turbo-6 in the sDrive35i. The sDrive35is features a more potent 335-hp version of the 3.0.
All models accelerate briskly, with the sDrive35is sprinting the fastest to 60 mph: just 4.8 seconds. All models are peppy, but the sDrive28i can feel a little more labored at lower speeds. Each version corners stable with a balanced feel, but their suspensions are a little soft and their runflat tires a little harsh for track-day driving. An optional Sport Package delivers a little more performance plus some nice styling bits.
Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual and an 8-speed automatic for sDrive28i models, but the sDrive35i and sDrive35is models are only available with the seven-speed DCT.