BMW Z4 Verdict: I’m not sure what to make of it. That’s because BMW doesn’t, either.
There’s some great engineering here: the structure feels unbelievably stiff. It’s quiet, top up or down. And the soft top is super quick. Getting rid of the slow, heavy, creaky folding hard top was the right move.
Here’s the $64,000 Question: why the hell does a $64,000 Z4 have a 4-cylinder? The B48 is passionless, has nobody home at high revs, sounds like nothing. And the Z4 is one big-boned roadster. Result: it ain’t quick.
Transmission is great, but a torque-converter in a sports car? No. No. No.
It’s got an automatic because the Z4 just isn’t a sports car.
Steering feels like old F30-gen stuff, meaning it’s numb on-center, zero feel. Brakes are nonlinear and the computer yanks you to an abrupt stop so it can turn the engine off a split-second sooner to save 0.0002 milligrams of gas. Idiotic.
Sticky Michelin Super Sports give genuinely huge grip. But to do that, the car creates its own bumps. Seriously, the vertical g-forces are greater than the cornering forces. The rear end will bounce 3x on midcorner heaves in Comfort. It’s only one bounce in Sport, but that generates enough vertical force to knock your eyeballs out. Not enough damping for the springs. And way too much spring for what is just not a sports car.
The Z4 has great proportions, a nicely designed interior, that amazing structure… and then it’s all ruined by an economy-car engine and a too-stiff ride. BMW needs to either own that it can’t/won’t make sporty cars or take its Ultimate Driving Machine mantra seriously.
The Z4 sDrive30i looks like a sports car, but to drive it, it’s anything but. Throw an appropriate engine in there, calm down that ridiculous suspension, and call it a Mercedes SLC clone. To even mention this thing in the same sentence as a Porsche 718 Boxster is an insult both cars. And to choose either over a Mazda MX-5 Miata would be a massive mistake.
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