By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 7.3
Whether you think a roadster should be all about power, handling and feel, or whether it should be more about style, comfort and open-air fun, the 2015 BMW Z4 offers a compelling choice. While cars like the Mercedes-Benz SLK and Audi TT lean more toward luxury, and the Porsche Boxster is more overtly sporty, this BMW Z4 splits the difference, appealing to sports car and touring enthusiasts alike. The retractable hardtop removes one barrier against buying a drop-top, and the driver-oriented cockpit is roomy even for tall drivers, surprising for this class. Both the 4-cylinder (sDrive28i) and 6-cylinder (sDrive35i and sDrive35is) models offer plenty of turbocharged power, making the 2015 BMW Z4 a true world-class roadster.
If one day you want a sports car, and the next you want a luxurious cruiser, then the BMW Z4 could be exactly what you're looking for. With a dynamic personality and luxurious accommodations, the Z4 is even reasonably priced.
Hardcore driving enthusiasts who find the BMW Z4 too soft should head for the Porsche Boxster. If you want more luxury, check out the Mercedes-Benz SLK. If you do a lot of driving in low-traction areas, the all-wheel drive in the Audi TT may be a better alternative.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2015 BMW Z4 sees no changes this year.
Driving Impressions Whether it's a winding mountain road, or a leisurely cruise by the ocean, the 2015 BMW Z4 feels right at home. Fine, it's not particularly practical – the trunk is...... small, even by roadster standards – but the Z4 delivers when it comes to driving satisfaction. The base BMW Z4 comes with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, but so what? The 0-60 mph time of about 5.5 seconds makes this car plenty quick. If that's not enough, stepping up to the 6-cylinder models predictably quickens acceleration times. The hardtop opens or closes in 20 seconds, meaning wind-in-the-hair driving is limited only by weather and your personal tolerance for sun exposure. No matter your engine or transmission choice, the Z4 is an exceptionally satisfying car to drive.
The folding hardtop on the 2015 BMW Z4 essentially gives you two cars in one. On sunny days, you have a fun drop-top roadster. On rainy ones, you have the buttoned down and quiet drive associated with a coupe.
ADAPTIVE M SUSPENSION
Sports cars are known for having harsh suspensions, and grand tourers have soft suspension. Thanks to an optional adaptive suspension system, the 2015 BMW Z4 delivers both, allowing drivers to select between Normal, Sport and Sport+.
The 2015 BMW Z4 goes against the grain of two-seat roadsters in one important way: It's roomy inside. In addition to excellent headroom, the Z4 offers good legroom, even for tall drivers. The materials inside are upscale, base models offering convincing leatherette on the seats, and higher trim models offering genuine leather. There's a handy storage compartment behind the seats big enough for a purse or small bag, and a pass-through to the trunk allows larger items like a golf bag. We're still not fans of BMW's odd gear selector, which can be confusing the first time you use it.Exterior
Convertibles often look beautiful with the top down, but awkward with it up. Not so the 2015 BMW Z4, which looks equally good both ways. Credit the overall styling: With a long hood, short trunk, and muscular fenders – not to mention the signature BMW grille – the BMW Z4 just looks good from any angle. With the top up, it passes as a sexy coupe. Three different trim levels – sDrive28i, sDrive35i, sDrive35is – are distinguished by badges, where the exhaust tips are placed, and with slightly different noses, with the chrome grille on the 6-cylinder models the most prominent change.
At close to $50,000, you're correct in assuming the 2015 BMW Z4 is generously equipped. The base Z4 sDrive28i offers 8-way power seats, keyless entry and start, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and adaptive xenon headlights that swivel in conjunction with the steering wheel, all of it standard. 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 2015 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.
If the standard features aren't enough, you can option up your 2015 BMW Z4 as far as your imagination and budget allow. Most of the desirable features are bundled into packages. For example, 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.
The 2015 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.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
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
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 twin-turbocharged inline-6
335 horsepower @ 5,900 rpm
332 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 mpg
The 2015 BMW Z4 line opens at just under $49,000. The mid-tier sDrive35i model will set you back about $57,000, while the top-of-the-line sDrive35is is priced just shy of $66,000. That sounds like a lot, but 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 2015 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.