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First Drive

First Drive: BMW Z4

The story:
The third generation of roadster to wear BMW’s Z4 badge promises to be sportier and more agile than ever, as well as more practical and comfortable.
Category:Sports car
Key rival:Audi TT Roadster
BMW Z4 sDrive20i M Sport
MPG:39.8 mpg
On sale:Now

The new BMW Z4 has a strong list of improvements over its predecessor, including being larger, more agile, sportier and having a bigger boot, all of which are aimed at reinvigorating the roadster.

The new model is also larger than its predecessor: it’s an extra 85mm longer, 74mm wider and 13mm taller. The boot space is now
281 litres, which is 50% larger than previous, and better still it’s unaffected by the folding roof, unlike some drop-tops where the roof eats into boot space. That canvas top will also lower in just 10 seconds at up to 31mph.

First Drive-September 2019-BMW Z4-Image 6The change in stance works well with the new styling in making the Z4 look sleeker, lower and more sporting, although there is plenty going on in terms of curves and inlets that mean it’s not the most classically elegant of designs.

Despite the increased dimensions, which also make for a seat that slides back by an extra 23mm to help taller drivers get comfortable, the new Z4’s wheelbase is actually 26mm shorter to increase agility and the sportiness of the driving experience.

The Z4’s long bonnet stretches out from the low-slung driver’s seat in a view that no other car of under £40,000 can offer, and the precise steering feel helps the car to feel significantly more nimble than its predecessor, one of BMW’s key objectives with its new roadster.

The new Z4 comes with a choice of 20i and 30i 2.0-litre engines of 197 and 258hp respectively, as well as the 340hp M40i range-topper, all with a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox. The two regular models come in Sport and M Sport trim, the M Sport adding styling adornments for a £1850 price rise.

First Drive-September 2019-BMW Z4-Image 5

Emissions are below 140g/km for the 20i driven here, but it’s doesn’t feel like it’s got the power to back up the looks in the way the 30i, which has the same 138g/km figure, will have. The Z4 is also a touch pricier than the Audi TT Roadster, a prettier car that also has slightly better residuals, but which is also a touch less efficient and more costly to insure. Overall, there’s almost nothing in it cost-wise though, and the BMW is a slightly better car to drive.

Paul Barker

The verdict

Improved in all the important areas, the new Z4 makes for a nice premium perk car for those people and businesses that can put up with the impracticalities of a two-seat roadster.