2008 BMW Z4

Consumer Reviews
1 Review
The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
July 6, 2008

Buying tip

Sales of the BMW Z4 go up in the spring and tank in the fall. Which do you think a better time to buy one of these two-seat sportscars?

features & specs

2-Door Coupe 3.0si
2-Door Coupe M
2-Door Roadster 3.0i
18 city / 28 hwy
15 city / 22 hwy
18 city / 28 hwy

The 2008 BMW Z4 coupe and roadster are fun cars, but the M versions are truly memorable.

TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 BMW Z4 to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove different BMW Z4s, including the roadster, coupe, and M versions, to offer you a definitive opinion on this Bimmer two-door. Furthermore, this review compares the 2008 BMW Z4 with other cars in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.

Whether you get it with a fixed roof or one that folds, the 2008 BMW Z4 is an athletic-looking two-seater. The Z4's controversial "flame surfacing" style created by BMW lead designer Chris Bangle still isn't our favorite, especially in light of how the flame style has matured (as represented on the 2008 BMW 3-Series). Some editors at TheCarConnection.com feel the Z4 looks best in its coupe form, where the aggressiveness seems to fit better.

The 2008 BMW Z4 can come with three completely different six-cylinder engines packed under its long hood. The base Z4 3.0i gets an inline six-cylinder engine that packs 215 horsepower, while the 3.0si includes a 255-hp, 3.0-liter inline-six. Available transmissions include a standard six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic. The high-performance M Roadster and hatchback coupe are defined by the 330-horsepower, 3.2-liter inline-six under their hood. With this engine, 0-60 mph comes up in around five seconds, and the Z4 keeps on running up to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

This small two-seater is loaded with safety equipment, including Dynamic Stability Control, traction control, anti-lock disc brakes, rollover protection, front and side airbags, and active knee protection. Run-flat tires eliminate the need to carry a spare, thus saving weight in the process.

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For the data minded, the 2008 BMW Z4 coupe with a full steel roof weighs only 22 pounds more than the soft-top roadster. The convertible top, by the way, goes up and down with the touch of one button, automatically unlatching and relatching.

To enhance performance and traction, a limited-slip differential comes standard across the line; the 3.0i adds amenities like a Carver audiophile stereo system and heated windshield washers. An available Sport Package includes a tauter suspension and larger wheels and performance tires. But take our word for it, there's nothing like driving an M-Series car, so if you're looking for a memorable drive in a car other enthusiasts will respect, pony up for an M coupe or roadster.

The Z4 is built at BMW's modern facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Customers can arrange to have their 2008 Z4 delivered directly at the factory.


2008 BMW Z4


The 2008 BMW Z4 won’t be ignored, but its styling remains in limbo.

Whether you get the coupe or convertible version, the 2008 BMW Z4 is an athletic-looking two-seater. The Z4's controversial "flame surfacing" style created by BMW lead designer Chris Bangle still isn't universally loved, especially in light of how the flame style has matured (as represented on the 2008 BMW 3-Series).

"Edginess" is definitely an operative word when it comes to this 2008 BMW; this "two-seater displays a blend of convex and concave surfaces, coupled with deeply sculpted bodysides...the Z4 [BMW 2008] has more edges, especially at the rear, than its rounded predecessor, the Z3," according to Cars.com. Car and Driver suggests "the word 'strange' comes instantly to mind" when looking at this 2008 BMW; "what else could anyone think of the odd collection of lines, bumps, and creases woven throughout the body of this roadster? It's not pretty, nor is it ugly." ForbesAutos simply notes this BMW 2008 as "a stylish two-door for those who can afford to put pure driving pleasure over practicality." The difference in the two models starts at the doors: “The coupe's front-end styling is similar to the roadster's,” Cars.com reports, “but its fastback-style roof flows seamlessly from the windshield to the stern, ending abruptly ahead of a subtle deck spoiler.”

As is the case with many two-seater roadsters, the convertible Z4's cockpit is a bit Spartan, though the coupe version offers more; Cars.com reports that "controls are well spaced on a distinctive dashboard." Edmunds reports that the BMW 2008 roadster has "lots of standard metallic trim...wood trim is available for those seeking a more classic look." In this BMW 2008 coupe version, Kelley Blue Book says "brushed-aluminum dash and console accents are set off by a 'pearl gloss galvanic' finish on the door pulls...buyers can opt for no-cost Carbon Leather in place of the standard aluminum trim, or move up to optional polished Madeira Wood. "

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2008 BMW Z4


The 2008 BMW Z4 excels with sharp handling and, in M versions, outright speed.

The 2008 BMW Z4 acquits itself well in base versions, but it’s the Z4 M that really pumps up the enthusiast appeal, according to reviewers from around the Web.

Cars.com reports that the Z4 BMW 2008 comes with a choice of three powerplants. Two “are 3.0 liters, but the 3.0i's makes 215 horsepower and 185 pounds-feet of torque, while the one in the 3.0si achieves 255 hp and 220 pounds-feet of torque." ConsumerGuide notes that both these BMW 2008 engines are "high-revving engines [that] require lots of rpm for speediest getaways but furnish ample power for strong acceleration at any speed." ConsumerGuide says "slick, crisp, short-throw shifts make the manual transmission a pleasure," while "the alert automatic transmission shifts decisively but never feels harsh."

The high-performance M Roadster and hatchback coupe are defined by the 330-horsepower, 3.2-liter inline-six under their hood. With this engine, 0-60 mph comes up in around five seconds, and the Z4 keeps on running up to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. Edmunds says the Z4 M experience requires a leap of faith beyond its stats: “Owing to their light weight, sharp reflexes and aggressively quick acceleration, both coupe and convertible offer competent drivers a thrilling experience.“ Still, Car and Driver finds it doesn’t “measure up to the dynamic goodness of the Porsche Cayman series,” a sentiment with which Edmunds agrees.

The Z4’s fuel economy is decent, if not stellar by today's standards: ConsumerGuide reports "coupe and convertible both averaged 18.8 mpg," noting "Z4s require premium-grade gas." The M versions have fuel economy of 15/22 mpg.

Handling and steering are terrific, but the ride is a little harsh across the Z4 lineup. Car and Driver notes that this 2008 BMW is "a much nimbler handler in the corners than the skittish Z3 it replaced." Cars.com notes the BMW 2008 Z4 models' "weight distribution is even and handling is competent...the electric power steering is better than that in some cars, but it's not great." Edmunds reviewers praised it overall: "braking and handling are all excellent...from an everyday driver standpoint, the Z4 is still mostly agreeable." ForbesAutos reports the "suspension is firm, which makes for excellent cornering, but the ride can be harsh over uneven pavement." Edmunds feels the M versions are edgy—maybe too edgy. “The car's sharp responses -- the quick steering, instantaneous throttle and direct brakes -- won't reward a casual driving style,” they report. Ride quality is a concern noted by most outlets; Car and Driver calls it “harsh.”

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2008 BMW Z4

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 BMW Z4 offers good room for two and a surprisingly large trunk, along with Spartan but high-quality trim.

The 2008 BMW Z4 may not be at the top in terms of comfort, but for a two-seat sportscar, it does quite well.

Many sources describe this 2008 BMW's interior as "cozy"; it is after all, a two-seat roadster or coupe. Car and Driver says this BMW 2008 is "a comfortable long-distance cruiser with lots of legroom for tall drivers and passengers," but while Cars.com acknowledges that "accommodations are good for someone 6 feet tall," there is still a warning: "you have to fold yourself a bit to get into the Z4 when the top's up, and look out for that high doorsill." ConsumerGuide says, "cabins are cozy but have adult-size headroom and legroom," and notes that "adjustable sport seats may be too snug for some and seem shy on padding...large side bolsters, the low sports-car stance, and longish doors can impede entry and exit."

Cargo space aboard this BMW 2008 is "generous…more than enough storage room for two people on a four- or five-day road trip," according to Car and Driver, which goes on to report that "one driver managed to get a sewing machine, several gallons of paint, brushes, and rollers, and other odds and ends in the trunk while running errands." Cars.com says that this 2008 BMW's "Interior storage is so-so, with narrow door pockets and a tiny glove compartment that has no lock, leaving it accessible if you park the car with its top down," but notes that "the center storage behind the driver's right shoulder locks automatically along with the doors." Edmunds reports that, amazingly, "lowering the top doesn't result in compromises with regard to storage space in the trunk...the roadster's 9-cubic-foot trunk capacity remains almost unchanged."

The BMW 2008 Z4's controls leave something to be desired; Car and Driver complains that "the onboard computer's ergonomics were confoundedly complicated, frustrating and angering drivers and passengers alike. Any attempt to change function involved multiple menus." Beyond that, ConsumerGuide reports "Z4s have quality interior materials assembled with care," while Edmunds comments on the somewhat Spartan interior: "Simplicity is the prevailing aesthetic within the 2008 BMW Z4's cabin. This is a driver's car, and as such, the cockpit's furnishings offer little to shift your focus from the road. The cabin offers a broad dash, pleasant gauges, firm sport seats and not much else."

Cars.com reminds car buyers that "the dual-layer soft-top helps cut down on noise, but this is clearly a convertible," so a certain amount of road noise is to be expected. ConsumerGuide says that the BMW 2008 "engines make an enthusiast-pleasing full-throttle growl yet are reasonably quiet at lower rpm...tire noise is intrusive on most surfaces."

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2008 BMW Z4


The 2008 BMW Z4 may be one of the safest two-seaters on the road, but visibility is a concern.

For a two-seat sportscar, the 2008 BMW Z4 offers an impressive level of safety, TheCarConnection.com notes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded better-than-average scores to this 2008 BMW, including a full five stars for rollover resistance. Both trims of the Z4 received four stars for front driver and passenger impact protection. The roadster received only three stars for side impact protection; the coupe was not tested in a side-impact crash. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not tested the 2008 BMW Z4.

Cars.com reports that "side-impact airbags, knee airbags, antilock brakes and BMW's Dynamic Stability Control electronic stability system are standard" for this BMW 2008, as is a cutoff switch for the front passenger airbag and tire pressure monitoring system. Edmunds reports that every Z4 BMW 2008 "comes standard with antilock disc brakes, run-flat tires, rollover protection (for the convertible), stability control, side airbags and active knee protection."

There are some driver visibility problems; ConsumerGuide reports that visibility behind the wheel of this 2008 BMW "is compromised by the low seating position along with the coupe's slanted roofline and convertible's top and roll bars." Cars.com describes the BMW 2008 model's visibility as "questionable," although "close to the driver's head, the glass rear window provides a decent view." Parking this BMW 2008 "can be tricky due to the obstructed view and difficulty judging over the trunk and hood exactly where the rounded body ends."


2008 BMW Z4


There are more standard and optional features available for the 2008 BMW Z4 than there are for some luxury sedans; just be aware that they add to the sticker price.

The 2008 BMW Z4 offers driver and passenger a full array of convenience and entertainment features, including a droppable top on roadster models. The convertible top can be powered, so it goes up and down with the touch of one button, automatically unlatching and relatching. Coupe buyers don’t need to worry about performance, though—it weighs only 22 pounds more than the ragtop.

TheCarConnection.com finds a plethora of standard and optional equipment available for this 2008 BMW. Kelley Blue Book reports that "standard [2008 BMW] equipment includes a full array of power assists, Nappa leather upholstery, remote keyless entry, on-board computer, automatic climate control, a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system, ultra-supportive six-way bucket seats, a three-spoke multifunction sport steering wheel on a tilt and telescoping column, comprehensive Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), a special M-spec variable-locking differential, 18-inch staggered-width wheel and tire packages and the weight-saving 'M' Mobility System in place of a spare tire."

Edmunds notes "the roadster has a traditional, manually operated convertible soft top with a defroster-equipped glass rear window" as standard and the power top as an option.

Optional equipment for this BMW 2008 vehicle is abundant, but can add to the price quickly and considerably. It includes a 10-speaker Carver/THX Certified sound system, Kelley Blue Book reports, along with a power-operated top and a choice of interior trims, Bluetooth, and a navigation system.

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May 26, 2016
2008 BMW Z4 2-Door Roadster 3.0i

BMW is worthy of being the Ultimate Driving Machine.

  • Overall Rating
  • Styling
  • Performance
  • Comfort & Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy
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It is well built. Performance is good, I know BMW makes a faster model, but where are you going to go? The amenities are beyond what you would expect from a compact convertible. I am pleased, surprised, and... + More »
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Styling 7
Performance 9
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 9
Features 8
Fuel Economy N/A
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