by Karl Furlong
The BMW Z4 delivers everything you'd expect of that famous roundel on its nose. As a luxury brand with a sporting bent, the Z4 admirably adheres to the BMW brief. It's posh enough inside to match rivals like the Audi TT Roadster and defunct Mercedes-Benz SLC, yet is sufficiently dynamically gifted so that a potential Porsche 718 Boxster customer might give it a second look. This doesn't make it a Jack of all trades and master of none, though - not when the range is topped by that exceptional 382-horsepower 3.0-liter turbo inline-six that can slingshot the M40i model to 60 mph in below four seconds. On the downside, it looks a bit polarizing, which is more of an issue in this corner of the market than most, and the Z4's steering feel falls far short of its Boxster rival. Still, the Z4 is a quick, lively, and upscale roadster that BMW fans will love, even if it hasn't revolutionized the segment.
The 2022 BMW Z4 Roadster is mostly a carryover model from last year but it has lost a few features. Strangely, wireless charging is no longer available as an option and ambient lighting is no longer standard either. In other news, the Driving Assistance package can now be ordered separately and is no longer part of the Convenience or Premium packages.
See trim levels and configurations:
While not lacking in road presence, the latest Z4 Roadster's shape can take some time to get used to. The traditional kidney grille is unusually wide and conjures up images of the retro BMW Z8. It is more palatable than the severely elongated grille found on the latest 4 Series Coupe, that's for sure. The rear three-quarter view is perhaps the Z4's most attractive aspect, with a short rump and well-integrated taillights. The base model rides on 18-inch alloy wheels and features Satin Aluminum exterior trim, LED headlights, and LED daytime running lights. Both versions feature a black soft-top roof, but the M40i adds Shadowline exterior trim, an aerodynamic kit, and 18-inch M double-spoke wheels. Both models have dual-exhaust outlets, but these are more aggressively styled on the M40i along with the standard M Sport kit.
Official dimensions indicate that the BMW Z4 is shorter but wider than the Porsche 718 Boxster. The length works out to just 170.7 inches, concealing a 97.2-inch wheelbase. With the mirrors extended, the Z4 has a width of 79.7 inches, dropping to 73.4 inches, excluding the mirrors. The height of the little roadster is 51.4 inches. The M40i shares these dimensions but stands marginally shorter with a height of 51.3 inches. This version is the heaviest with a curb weight of 3,457 pounds, while the four-cylinder sDrive30i is a more lithe 3,287 lbs. That being said, the Z4 is quite a bit heavier than the Boxster.
The base Z4 is offered in a choice of seven colors, with only Alpine White being included without an extra charge. A range of six metallics each go for $550 and includes Black Sapphire, Glacier Silver, Mineral White, Mediterranean Blue, Misano Blue, and San Francisco Red. While we love the Misano Blue, it requires adding the M Sport package for an additional $1,500. The Z4 M40i offers a slightly different color palette, with Mineral White and Mediterranean Blue falling away, but it gets the additional choice of the awesome Frozen Grey II Metallic, although this will add $3,600 to your bill.
A classic roadster, the Z4 sports an engine mounted in front beneath a long hood, with power going to the rear axle exclusively. The sDrive30i's 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine has a surprisingly fruity exhaust note, considering it is lacking the optimum number of cylinders. With 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque on tap, it's far from lazy. It'll launch from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds before reaching a limited top speed of 155 mph. The sDrive M40i is a beast, though, with its 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six generating 382 hp and 368 lb-ft. It has the same limited top speed as the sDrive30i but takes just 3.9 seconds to hurtle to 60 mph. That's slightly better performance than the Boxster S, and, considering that the M40i comes in at a lower price than this four-cylinder Porsche, it offers a nicer engine for less money. However, there are no all-wheel drive or manual configurations available. If AWD propulsion is a necessity, consider the Audi TT Roadster.
As we found in our 2021 BMW Z4 review, both engine choices are up to the job of moving the compact drop-top's body around with vigor while each has a character of its own. The base sDrive30i's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and, like both Z4 derivatives, employs an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and launch control. The sDrive M40i utilizes the bigger 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six with a muscular 382 hp and 368 lb-ft. This version also ships with an M sport differential.
The base engine has lots of torque, so it pulls strongly from low down in the rev range, and it sounds better than the four-cylinder engines in cheaper versions of the Porsche Boxster. It pairs fantastically well with the eight-speed gearbox, which rifles through its ratios with a speed and smoothness that has made this transmission one of the industry's best. The M40i sounds even better, and passing power is exceptional. In Comfort mode, the Z4 can be enjoyed at more sedate speeds, too.
The previous-gen Z4 had gone a bit soft, but the latest version has far superior handling and body control. Quick steering endows the Z4 with sprightly reactions when changing direction, and there is loads of lateral grip. It helps that the Z4 has an ideal 50:50 weight distribution. Switch over to Sport Mode, and it is an absorbing roadster to drive quickly. It never quite approaches the delicacy of the Porsche Boxster, though, and not much is communicated through the steering wheel, which is more disappointing here than in a 5 Series. Despite that lighter soft-top roof, it feels a bit heavier than is ideal for a truly agile experience, but a less demanding test drive is unlikely to disappoint.
On the highway, the Z4 impresses with its reassuring straight-line stability. While the ride is taut, the suspension deals with road scars pretty well. It's surprisingly refined in the cabin, too, and that applies to whether the roof is up or down, which is saying a lot for a convertible. Braking power is top-notch even if smoothly bringing the Z4 to a stop at low speeds isn't always easy, with the system prone to grabbiness. Overall, the Z4 is easy to live with about town and enjoyable when the speeds rise and the road clears.
Considering its excellent acceleration, the Z4's engines won't make you regret your purchasing decision at the pumps. It measures up well with competitors in this area. The sDrive30i returns EPA estimates of 25/32/28 mpg across the city/highway/combined cycles, which is easily better than a base Porsche Boxster. Moving up to the M40i will see those numbers dip to a still-respectable 22/29/25 mpg, although this depends on how heavy your right foot is. With a 13.7-gallon gas tank, the base Z4 has a combined cruising range of approximately 383 miles, dropping to 342 miles for the six-cylinder version.
The BMW Z4 Roadster's cabin can come across as a bit demure when finished in darker colors, but otherwise, there is little to fault. Both the driver and passenger have enough space, the controls are logically arranged, and materials are excellent, such as the soft-touch SensaTec-trimmed dashboard. Both versions ship with a digital instrument cluster, power-adjustable M Sport seats with a driver's memory system, a wind deflector, and dual-zone automatic climate control. On the safety side of things, there is frontal collision warning, a fatigue/focus alert function, and automatic high beams. There are some tasteful options to brighten up the dark cabin, such as Vernasca leather in Magma Red or Cognac.
A dedicated two-seat roadster, the BMW Z4 features well-bolstered M Sport seats with a wide range of power-adjustability. The headroom is good, and even taller occupants will be impressed with how far back the seat can go. A low driving position is classic roadster and goes some way to making this feel like a car that begs to be driven hard. As it's low to the ground, getting out of the Z4 requires a bit more effort than in a normal sedan, but that's nothing unsurprising for the segment. It's quite some feat to design a cockpit that feels snug yet isn't short of space, and BMW has achieved exactly this with the Z4.
On the entry-level Z4, the seats and dashboard are covered in classy black SensaTec upholstery, and there are high-gloss black trim inlays. The sporty three-spoke steering wheel is leather-wrapped. Vernasca leather upholstery is optionally available in colors like Black, Magma Red, Ivory White, Black Alcantara Black with Blue contrast stitching, and Cognac. This upgrade will cost at least $2,450 as it's bundled together with the Convenience Package and Park Distance Control. The Black Alcantara Black upgrade adds a total of $3,000 to the price as it requires the M Sport package, too. Aluminum Tetragon or a mesh-effect Aluminum are two additional trim options, but the former requires the M Sport Package.
Upgrading to Vernasca leather on the M40i costs between $1,500 and $1,700, while this derivative has Aluminum Tetragon inlays equipped by default.
At 9.9 cubic feet, the BMW Z4's trunk is decent, considering that this is a compact roadster, and cargo capacity isn't affected by whether the soft-top roof is up or down. One larger suitcase or a few smaller carry-ons will be able to fit in there.
In the cabin, the glovebox is on the small side, so not much more than two wallets and some other odds and ends can fit in there. The two cupholders are positioned beneath the center armrest, which makes accessing them on the move a bit awkward. Around these cupholders, there is a little more space for tiny items, and there are door bins, too.
On the sDrive30i at its most affordable base price, the Z4 is equipped with power-adjustable sport seats which include a memory system for the driver. Additional features include dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-operated soft-top roof, push-button ignition, power-folding and heated side mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a rearview camera, a universal garage door opener, and safety features such as forward collision warning, dynamic cruise control, and tire-pressure monitoring. On the M40i, there are 14-way power-adjustable front seats with three-stage heating, along with a heated steering wheel. There are plenty of options, ranging from a head-up display to remote engine start, active blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning, park-distance control, and active cruise control. Ambient lighting is no longer standard and has been relegated to the options list.
Information is displayed between two 10.25 digital displays: one ahead of the driver, which forms part of BMW's Live Cockpit Professional, and a central touchscreen through which iDrive 7.0 software can be accessed. Although the digital dials aren't as configurable as those in an Audi, they certainly do modernize the Z4's cabin. iDrive requires a bit of a learning curve, but we do like that it can still be manipulated via hard keys and a console-mounted rotary dial. Standard connectivity and entertainment features include navigation, Bluetooth, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, real-time traffic information via BMW's Connected Package Professional, natural language recognition, and SiriusXM with 360L and a one-year all-access subscription. The sound system is a 205-watt, ten-speaker unit that includes dual bass speakers mounted behind the seats. A Wi-Fi hotspot with a three-month/3GB trial, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system are available. Wireless charging is no longer available at all, even as an option.
A 2021 J.D. Power rating of 77 out of 100 is acceptable rather than great, and the 2022 model should be similar. The 2021 version of the Z4 has been recalled three times. The issues included a malfunctioning passenger seatbelt, failing fuel-tank welds, and a loss of the brake-assist function. No recalls have been issued for the 2022 model at the time of writing.
As with other BMWs, the Z4 is covered by a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, four years of roadside assistance regardless of mileage covered, a 12-year rust perforation warranty, and three years or 36,000 miles of maintenance coverage. By comparison, Porsche offers just a year or 10,000 miles of complimentary scheduled maintenance for the Boxster.
As mentioned in prior Z4 reviews, the two major USA crash-test authorities - the IIHS and the NHTSA - have both not yet evaluated the BMW. However, the roadster performed strongly in the European NCAP test, where the 2019 version achieved a five-star safety rating.
The BMW Z4 isn't quite as loaded with driver aids as the brand's luxury sedans, but most of the essentials are in place. That means all new Z4s come with ABS brakes, dynamic stability control, a rearview camera, tire-pressure monitoring, an airbag suite that includes dual-front, dual-side, and dual knee airbags, and LED headlights fitted as standard. Along with these features are automatic high beams, dynamic cruise control, frontal collision warning, automatic city collision mitigation and braking, accident preparation with post-crash braking, and fatigue/focus alert. Being a roadster, the Z4 is equipped with a rollover protection system. Optionally available safety kit includes lane departure warning, active blind-spot detection, active cruise control, and front/rear parking sensors.
The current Z4 is a worthy drop-top to carry on the proud legacy of BMW's Z roadsters. As is often the case with a BMW, the powertrains and driving experience stand out as particularly good; the Z4 is entertaining to drive fast but has a broad spread of talents that make it quite comfortable, too. The well-designed cabin means that even larger-framed individuals can enjoy the thrill of open-top motoring, and although BMW could be more generous with standard driver aids, the Z4 is reasonably specified in base form. If you require the security of an all-wheel-drive system or prefer to shift gears yourself, the Z4 won't cater to your needs as well as some of the competition, but there's nothing wrong with that slick auto 'box. Although the Porsche Boxster has an even sweeter chassis, the more affordable BMW is far from outclassed and is well worth a look as a fun and brilliantly engineered roadster.
The base model BMW Z4 has seen a small $200 price increase in the US for 2022, while the six-cylinder variant retains the same starting MSRP. That means that the BMW Z4 will cost $49,900 for the sDrive30i and $63,700 for the M40i. These prices exclude a destination charge of $995 and plenty of optional extras that can add thousands to the final price of the BMW Z4.
The 2022 BMW Z4 Roadster lineup comprises two trims, namely the sDrive30i and the sDrive M40i. The base sDrive30i employs a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four with 255 hp and the M40i gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six with 382 hp. Both transmit the power to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The sDrive30i runs on 18-inch alloy wheels and comes as standard with an electrically operated soft top, LED headlights, and automatic high beams. The seats are upholstered in SensaTec and dual-zone climate control and dynamic cruise control are standard. There are dual 10.25-inch displays - one for the gauge cluster and one for the iDrive infotainment system.
The top dog Z4 is the sDrive M40i and from the outside, it can be distinguished by its standard Shadowline blacked-out exterior trim, larger dual exhaust tips, and M double-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels. Standard equipment is similar to the base car's but adds heated seats and a heated steering wheel. An M Sport differential and adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers are standard equipment too.
On the base derivative, the Convenience Package no longer includes the Driving Assistance Package as it did last year and now costs $550, comprising only comfort access keyless entry and power lumbar support. The $700 Driving Assistance Package gives access to the additional driver aids on their own. The Premium Package includes the Convenience Package items plus remote engine start, parking assistance, a head-up display, heated front seats, Comfort Access keyless entry, ambient lighting, and adaptive full-LED headlights for $2,900. The Shadowline Package costs $300. Individual options include a heated steering wheel ($190), active cruise control ($1,200), and heated front seats ($500). One of the more desirable options on the sDrive30i is the $1,500 M Sport Package that adds Shadowline exterior trim, 18-inch M double-spoke wheels, and an M steering wheel.
The Z4 sDrive M40i offers many of the same upgrades but with a few price differences. For instance, its Premium Package goes for $1,900, but that's because the M40i is more generously equipped as standard.
Even though there is a price difference of over $13,000 between the two Z4s on offer, it's possible to bridge this gap with a fully loaded sDrive30i. So, would we rather have an sDrive30i with all the bells and whistles or an sDrive M40i with fewer gizmos but that glorious six-cylinder engine? It's a fairly easy decision - the M40i wins every time. That six-pot is so good that it elevates the driving experience to another level that's hard to resist. Of course, if you can't stretch to the M40i, the base model with a few extras that keep the price to under $55,000 is an attractive alternative. We'd spec ours with the Driving Assistance Package and the heated seats, making this a thoroughly enjoyable roadster, too.
Despite the objections from both BMW and Toyota fans that these two cars share their powertrains and platform, the end result is substantially different. The Supra is more of an all-out sports car, whereas the BMW has a premium veneer that caters to a more fashion-conscious crowd that won't necessarily be driving on the limit all the time. Of course, the Supra is a coupe, whereas the BMW can drop its roof at the touch of a button. The Toyota is much more affordable, with the base 3.0-liter inline-six barely costing more than the four-cylinder Z4, so it's easily the bang for buck victor between these two. A lighter weight contributes to the Supra being a more exciting car to fling through the corners. However, the BMW has the classier interior of the two and features a larger infotainment display. For the sheer joy of driving, we'd take the Supra, but the BMW has undeniable brand cachet, and, for many, this will be enough to side with the Z4.
The mid-engined Porsche 718 Boxster has been the dynamic benchmark for such a long time, it's hard to remember when anything ran it close in this aspect, and the Z4 can't change that. As good as the BMW is, the Boxster is lighter on its feet, more communicative, and feels more agile, plus it is available with a lovely manual gearbox. But it's the BMW that provides nicer engines for less money. The base Boxster has more power than the Z4 sDrive30i, though, with 300 hp to 255. When you aren't wringing these cars' necks, the BMW also offers the advantage of a quieter, plusher, and better-built cabin. It's better specified, too, as Porsche offers very few safety features as standard, and they're all seriously pricey options. This one is a tough call as the BMW comes across as the better all-rounder, but the Boxster is just so talented on the road that we'd happily forgive its few flaws.
The most popular competitors of 2022 BMW Z4 Roadster: