KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 1/2/2013
The Z4 is BMW's version of the classic roadster. That is, its engine is in front, its drive wheels are in the rear, and its seats are limited to just you and perhaps one lucky passenger. Yet the Z4 is still a BMW through and through, which means you get not only an athletic drive experience, but the luxurious accommodations you'd expect from this German automaker. You can also make the argument that having a Z4 is like getting two cars in one. It's an open-air roadster, of course, and thanks to its standard retractable hardtop, the Z4 is also a sleek coupe. Like other BMWs, the Z4 is offered with a variety of engine choices and options that are only limited by the size of your checkbook.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you want a roadster that's thrilling to drive and offers the security and sleek lines of a coupe with the roof raised, the Z4 with its BMW road-going dynamics and standard retractable hardtop make a tempting choice. That it is rated up to 34 mpg on the highway doesn't hurt, either.
You May Not Like This Car If...
The slightly shorter Mercedes-Benz SLK Roadster has a starting price of more than $4,000 less than that of the Z4, and can also be had with more power in AMG form with a V8 engine. Those seeking more passenger room and practicality, meanwhile, may want to look at convertible versions of the BMW 1 or 3 Series, or the Audi A5 Cabriolet.
What's New for 2013
After last year's introduction of a powerful yet fuel-efficient 4-cylinder turbocharged engine in base models, the Z4 carries over unchanged for 2013 ahead of a mild refresh planned for the 2014 model year Z4.
No matter the road or even the driving condition, the 2013 BMW Z4 feels like a true reinvention of the classic sports car. What you might give up in everyday practicality – or the limits of what you can store in the Z4's trunk – you gain in driving satisfaction. Even in base form with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the Z4 is plenty fast with a 0-60 mph time of about 5.5 seconds. Stepping up to the 6-cylinder models only quickens this car's acceleration times and, consequently, one's pulse. No matter your engine or transmission choice, the Z4 is an exceptionally satisfying car to pilot with excellent braking and steering feel. That it can transform from a sleek and cozy coupe to a wind-in-the-hair chariot in 20 seconds feels like icing on the cake.
What's better than having an open-air convertible for sunny days? Having a buttoned-down coupe for the rainy ones. With the Z4's power folding hardtop, you essentially get two cars in one that's ready for any condition and climate.
The engine in base Z4 models certainly doesn't feel "base." With 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, there's plenty of scoot in the sDrive28i trim. The smaller engine also results in fuel economy above 30-mpg in highway driving.
The bane of some roadsters is that while their headroom is measured in miles, the rest of the cabin's dimensions are not so fortunate. Driver and passenger are treated better in the Z4's cockpit, which feels more open and accessible. Base models are dressed in leatherette, while upper trims come standard with the real thing. Storage space behind the seats is a convenient spot for a purse or small bag. With a pass-through slot from the trunk compartment, you can bring your big club to the driving range. If there's one misstep, it's the fighter stick transmission in automatic-transmission models that can be confounding at first.
The Z4 is defined by a long hood, muscular rear fenders, and BMW's signature "twin kidney" grille up front. While just about every convertible looks good with the top down, the Z4 is one of the few whose aesthetics are equally as impressive top-up. Credit this to the Z4's retracting hardtop. When in the roof position, the Z4 passes as a voluptuous little coupe. Aside from nomenclature markings and the placement of the twin exhaust tips, the three trims are distinguished by slightly different front fascias highlighted by a polished grille in 6-cylinder models.
Notable Standard Equipment
Even a base Z4, dubbed the sDrive28i, comes well-equipped. Among the standard features are 8-way power seats, bright xenon headlights, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. One particularly cool – and important – safety feature are adaptive brake lights that emit a larger, brighter light the harder you press the brake pedal. The aim is to give a stronger visual cue to drivers behind you who may not realize you're braking hard. On the audio front, there is an AM/FM/CD/HD Radio with auxiliary input and iPod adapter. Top-line models receive premium audio system as standard, along with leather, a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and 18-inch wheels. All 2013 Z4 models have BMW Ultimate Service that includes complimentary maintenance for 4 years/50,000 miles and roadside assistance for 4 years/unlimited miles.
Notable Optional Equipment
From a heated steering wheel to high-intensity headlight washers, upgrades are beyond plentiful for the 2013 Z4. Among the more popular ones that can be had in packages are navigation, 10-way power seats, and a premium sound system. For those who want to up the performance ante, the M Sport Package that's standard on sDrive35is models can be fitted on the two lower trims and includes an adaptive suspension, increased top-speed limiter, performance run-flat tires, and anthracite headliner. Keep in mind that option packages can easily add several thousand dollars to the Z4's price tag – choosing metallic paint alone adds over $500.
Under the Hood
The 2013 Z4 is available in three potencies. Choices are a 240-horsepower 4-cylinder engine or a 3.0-liter 6-cylinder tuned to either 300 or 335 horsepower. All use BMW's TwinPower turbo technology and direct injection for immediate and gratifying throttle response. Transmission choices are a 6-speed manual, an 8-speed automatic, or a 7-speed double-clutch automatic, with the latter being the only option in top-end sDrive35is models. All Z4s are rear-wheel drive and use premium fuel.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Z4 sDrive28i)
240 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/34 mpg (manual), 22/33 mpg (automatic)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 (Z4 sDrive35i)
300 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
300 lb-ft of torque @ 1,400-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (manual), 17/24 mpg (automatic)
3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 (Z4 sDrive35is)
335 horsepower @ 5,900 rpm
332 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 mpg (automatic)
The 2013 BMW has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at just over $48,000 for an sDrive28i model. On the other end, a top-line sDrive35is model goes for just over $65,000. And keep in mind these prices are before options, which can add several thousand dollars to the bottom line. The BMW Z4's starting price is in line with that of the Porsche Boxster, and several thousand higher than those of the Mercedes-Benz SLK and Audi TT Roadster. Before buying, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the BMW Z4. Resale value is expected to be comparable to those of the Mercedes-Benz SLK and Audi TT convertible, but below that of the Porsche Boxster.