2021 BMW Z4

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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
December 12, 2020

Buying tip

Though it’s far pricier, the Z4 M40i suits this roadster’s mission brilliantly.

features & specs

sDrive30i Roadster
sDriveM40i Roadster
25 city / 32 hwy
22 city / 30 hwy

The 2021 BMW Z4 begs for a sunny-day romp like few other cars.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 BMW Z4? What does it compare to?

Slippery, sexy, and sporty, the BMW Z4 is a luxurious roadster with good performance and a price tag to match. Its diverse list of rivals includes the Porsche 718 Boxster, Chevrolet Corvette, Jaguar F-Type, and even the Mazda MX-5 Miata. 

Is the 2021 BMW Z4 a good car?

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There’s a lot that the Z4 does well, especially when you’re all alone on a winding road. We rate the Z4 at 6.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 BMW Z4?

Not much changes this year to the Z4 lineup aside from some minor optional equipment shuffling. 

The Z4 comes in two grades: sDrive30i and sDrive M40i. Those numbers are largely meaningless since the base car has a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 255 horsepower while the M40i tugs harder with its 3.0-liter turbo-6 rated at 382 hp. An 8-speed automatic hustles power to the rear wheels; don’t look for a manual. 

The lightweight Z4 is reasonably frugal; expect at least 30 mpg on the highway and at least 25 mpg combined regardless of engine. 

The Z4 rides on a taut chassis with a short wheelbase and nearly even weight distribution between the axles. Those are great starting points that help give the car precise handling in any situation, especially with the optional active dampers that can firm up the ride or soften it out as needed. 

Stylish outside, the Z4 is just as much a looker inside. It’s not particularly roomy for humans or cargo, but that’s not the point. The soft top stows in around 10 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph and quells road noise nearly as well as a steel roof. 

Basic safety gear comes standard, though full-speed automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control are pricey options. 

How much does the 2021 BMW Z4 cost?

BMW is proud of the Z4. Base pricing starts at about $51,000; add another $14,000 for the M40i. 

Spend the extra, we say. Nobody rationalizes a Z4, so you might as well have a little fun with its tighter suspension and its stronger engine. 

Where is the 2021 BMW Z4 made?

In Austria.


2021 BMW Z4


The BMW Z4 is inventively styled inside and out.

Is the 2021 BMW Z4 a good-looking car?

By most accounts, absolutely. The muscular Z4 has flared fenders, a low-slung look, and wide styling elements that give it serious presence. We rate it at 8 out of 10. 

Its style won’t be for everyone, though. Compared to Z roadsters past, the Z4 is adorned with lots of intakes and busy styling details that can be a little too much for some. 

Inside, the Z4 is decidedly driver-focused, though it’s heavy on buttons and switches. A wide array of upholstery choices can help elevate the experience, too.

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2021 BMW Z4


The 2021 BMW Z4 is meant for back road driving with the top down on a gorgeous fall afternoon.

Is the BMW Z4 4WD?

No, unlike some of its rivals, the Z4 is a rear-wheel-drive roadster. 

How fast is the BMW Z4?

The 2021 BMW Z4 is plenty quick in base form, and a real track-ready thrill machine as the rorty M40i.

We score the lineup at 8 out of 10. The Z4 places more of an emphasis on refinement than some of its rivals, which may or may not suit your needs as well.

Base cars use a 255-horsepower version of the 2.0-liter turbo-4 that powers nearly every BMW, while the M40i ups the ante considerably with its 382-hp 3.0-liter turbo-6. An 8-speed automatic churns power rearward, and paddle shifters are included. 

No matter the engine underhood, the Z4 is quick. Figure a hair over 5 seconds to 60 mph for the base car and a smidge under 4 seconds for the M40i. In sport mode, the Z4 makes all the right noises and hangs onto gears even longer. 

Handling-wise, the Z4 is more compromised. We’re not sold on its variable-assist electric power steering, which provides more feedback at higher speeds than it does around town. That can give the Z4 an unnatural feel.

At least the suspension is balanced and poised. The Adaptive M Sport suspension and locking rear differential are standard fare on the M40i and a worthwhile if pricey upgrade on the sDrive30i. The adaptive dampers allow for a composed ride in town in comfort mode and can be tightened up for track day fun in sport mode.

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2021 BMW Z4

Comfort & Quality

The driver-focused cabin is delightfully full of old-school roadster vibes.

We score the 2021 Z4 at 5 out of 10 for its comfort, a reasonable score for a vehicle that seats two passengers and a weekend’s worth of luggage.

Supportive, bolstered sports seats hold drivers and passengers in place on a winding road. The dash itself is designed more for the driver’s ease-of-use, which can make the right seat feel a little sterile by comparison, though.

There is decent small-item storage space and a convenient trunk pass-through that allows golf clubs or skis to go along for the ride. The trunk itself holds just under 10 cubic feet of cargo, not a bad figure for a roadster.

The Z4’s convertible top can be deployed or raised at speeds up to 31 mph and it does the deed in about 10 seconds.

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2021 BMW Z4


The Z4 hasn’t been crash tested, and it’s a little light on high-zoot safety gear.

How safe is the BMW Z4?

We don’t know. The Z4 hasn’t been crashed by the NHTSA or the IIHS, so we don’t have a score here.

Low-speed automatic emergency braking and lane-departure warnings are standard, but anything beyond that relatively basic spec will cost extra. Plan to spend more for adaptive cruise control and active lane control, features we think are essential in a modern car.


2021 BMW Z4


Not inexpensive, the BMW Z4 does feel mostly worth its hefty price tag.

The 2021 BMW Z4 scores 8 out of 10 for its standard equipment list, which hits the basics plus includes an impressive if occasionally overwhelming infotainment system, a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty, and a wide range of options.

Which BMW Z4 should I buy?

For light-duty cruising, the base Z4 sDrive30i that starts at around $50,500 will do everything most drivers need. BMW changes extra for paint colors other than white, real leather rather than synthetic upholstery, fatigue-reducing active driving tech, and a slew of performance equipment from the automaker’s M division. Add those features and the price tag approaches $60,000. At that point, we might consider stepping up to the more powerful and better-equipped Z4 M40i. 

How much is a fully loaded 2021 BMW Z4?

Starting at about $64,500, the M40i includes adaptive dampers and a few other items that are optional on the base car. All in, the price can top $70,000.

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2021 BMW Z4

Fuel Economy

The 2021 BMW Z4 is relatively frugal.

Is the 2021 BMW Z4 good on gas?

The Z4 isn’t the Prius of roadsters, but the 25 mpg city, 32 highway, 28 combined from the base car and 22/30/25 mpg from the M40i won’t break the bank at the pump even though premium fuel is required.

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Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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