Some luxury-branded roadsters are all about power, handling and feel, while most place a greater emphasis on style, comfort and open-air fun. The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class, Porsche Boxster and Audi TT each lean towards a particular side of the performance scale, but no competitor can appeal to both camps more so than the 2014 BMW Z4. The retractable hardtop makes convincing yourself into purchasing a convertible less of an exercise, and the driver-oriented cockpit is surprisingly roomy for the long of limb, a rarity in this class. Add in a pair of turbocharged engines, and the 2014 Z4 has the makings of a true world-class roadster.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're in the market for a premium 2-seat roadster, the Z4's dynamic personality, luxurious accommodations and reasonable price point make it a fine candidate to consider.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Hardcore driving enthusiasts will likely favor the purely visceral driving experience of the Porsche Boxster. In terms of versatility, those who intend to use their roadster for year-round transportation might express a preference for the all-wheel-drive Audi TT Roadster.
The BMW Z4 sees only a handful of minor enhancements to its interior and exterior styling for the 2014 model year.
Driving the Z4
No matter the road or driving condition, the 2014 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 the 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 predictably quickens acceleration times and, consequently, one's pulse. No matter your engine or transmission choice, the Z4 is an exceptionally satisfying car to drive. 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.
FOLDING HARDTOP 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.
ADAPTIVE M SUSPENSION The Z4's optional adaptive suspension delivers the best of all worlds, as it allows you to adjust the damping force of the shock absorbers by way of three driver-selectable modes: Normal, Sport and Sport+.
2014 BMW Z4 Details
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.
Outside, the 2014 Z4 is defined by a long hood, muscular rear fenders, and BMW's signature "twin kidney" grille. 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 fixed-roof position, the Z4 passes as a voluptuous little coupe. Aside from nomenclature markings and the placement of the twin exhaust tips, the three trim levels are distinguished by slightly different front fascias, highlighted by a polished grille on 6-cylinder models.
As its near-$49K price tag suggests, the base Z4 sDrive28i comes generously equipped. Standard goodies include 8-way power seats, Comfort Access keyless entry and start, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and adaptive xenon headlights that swivel in conjunction with the steering wheel for increased visibility around dark corners. Safety comes in the form of six airbags, embedded emergency services with automatic collision notification, and adaptive brake lights that emit a larger, brighter light as brake forces increase. Every 2014 Z4 includes BMW Ultimate Service, which consists of complimentary roadside assistance for 4 years/unlimited miles and scheduled maintenance for four years/50,000 miles.
Creature comforts available on the 2014 BMW Z4 are limited only by the size of your wallet. Most features that come highly recommended are bundled into packages. The M Sport Package ranks highest on our list of must-have add-ons, as it incorporates such features as the aforementioned adaptive suspension, a thick-rimmed steering wheel, aerodynamically-tuned body pieces, and sport seats. If your tastes run more along the lines of in-car gadgetry, the Technology Package should satisfy even the most discerning technophile with its iPhone application integration, Google Local Search function, and navigation with real-time traffic.
Under the Hood
The 2014 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 model. All Z4s are rear-wheel drive and use premium fuel.
The 2014 BMW Z4 line opens at just under $49,000. The mid-tier sDrive35i model will set you back an additional $8,000, while the top-of-the-line sDrive35is is priced just shy of $66,000. At right around $75,000, a fully-optioned BMW Z4 undercuts a loaded Porsche Boxster by roughly $10,000, though comparably-equipped versions of Mercedes-Benz SLK, Audi TT Roadster, and Nissan 370Z convertible are considerably less expensive. Before heading to the dealership, take a peek at KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price at the bottom of this page to see what others in your area are paying for their BMW Z4s. When it comes time to sell, the 2014 Z4 is expected to hold its value better than the Audi TT, M-B SLK and Nissan 370Z, but trail the Porsche Boxster by a few percentage points.
Cons: "No complaints and no use for the cup holder!!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Since the mid-sixties I have owned several roasters up to the present including a 1997 Z3 5 speed soft top that ran trouble free all the years I drove it. In 2011 I traded it for a new BMW (E93) 335is coupe/convertible needing extra room for the wife and two Jack Russell Terriers. In the interim I missed having an open air roaster hence the Z4 35is factory direct in Glacier Silver that now has 2600 miles.
The Z4 drives and handles superbly retaining all the qualities of an open air roaster. So if you’re not into stiff suspensions and road tire nose so common to roasters this is not the car for you. Don't get me wrong these are great cars, well built and my BMW dealer stands behind it. But it's still a roadster and not a car for those who are more interested in technology and ride comfort unwilling to compromise for the open road this vehicle excels at, it’s made to be driven. This is what a sports car should be."
Cons: "None. Limited trunk space but it's to be expected"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Most fun I've had with any car I've owned including a number of Porsches and BMW M3's. Hard top gives you great security unlike a soft-top convertible. The ability to adjust the driving dynamics means the car is a great highway cruiser and instantly switch to a very competent, fast sports car that will easily keep up with other high end sports cars. There are very few of these on the road so it gets a lot of looks. Lot of people give it a thumbs up or say that it's a great ride. Expensive when bought new but a great deal when purchased on a used basis. Life doesn't get any better than cruising thru Napa or Sonoma County on a warm day with the top down."
"Bought this new in 2009, have 42K miles and after six years there has been no problem. There was no issue with the fuel pump but had to be replaced because of the recall, as well as the battery cable. This is a conv so there will always be noisy in the cabin with the top up. Drive 95% of the time with the top down. Replace the run flat with Michelin PSS, this really changed how the car runs and handles for so much better. Highly recommended."