As people continue to flock toward SUVs and crossovers, dwindling sports-car sales have forced more automakers to update old cars or enter into joint ventures in order to turn a profit on lower volumes. Convertibles have had a tough time justifying their existence, which is why the BMW Z4 Roadster we review here has been twinned with the Toyota Supra since its arrival in the USA as a 2019 model. The Supra is a coupe only, there's no longer a drop-top Nissan Z on offer, and 2023 is the last model year for the Audi TT Roadster, so that leaves convertible buyers with fewer options than ever. The Z4 now competes against the similarly priced Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, the cheaper Mazda MX-5 Miata, and the more expensive Porsche 718 Boxster. Even the base 255-horsepower Z4 offers strong performance, but the six-cylinder 382-hp M40i is truly quick, getting to 60 mph in under four seconds, so the Z4 Roadster is about more than just style. Even so, does it earn a recommendation over its excellent rivals?
Not much is new for the 2023 Z4 Roadster but it gets a few minor visual tweaks, comprising a new honeycomb-mesh grille design and detail exterior changes. The other noticeable difference is that the sDrive30i trim now comes with the M Sport package as standard, complete with an aerodynamic body kit, sport suspension, and an M Sport steering wheel. Three new paint colors - Portimao Blue, Thundernight, and Skyscraper Grey - are offered. Additionally available this year are adaptive LED M Shadowline headlights and new optional matte Jet Black M 19-inch alloy wheels with a V-spoke design. With its $53k starting price, the 2023 BMW Z4 Roadster is now around $3k more expensive than last year.
With a $52,800 MSRP, the new 2023 BMW Z4 Roadster's price is up almost $3k over the 2022 model, but this does reflect the additional equipment fitted, most notably last year's $1,500 M Sport package. The M40i will cost you $65,300 - a smaller $1,600 increase. These prices don't include BMW's $995 destination fee.
See trim levels and configurations:
With a weight distribution of close to 50:50 - ideal for a RWD car - the Z4 exhibits good handling, little roll, and very high grip levels. It's certainly better than the previous-gen Z4, but it's no Boxster beater, with rather numb steering and softer, sloppier responses on the race track, where the Porsche continues to shine with its superb balance and sharpness. Comfort remains decent and the Z4 rides undulations well. It strikes a fine balance between handling and comfort, but a Supra or Boxster is more fun to drive in anger. The brakes are powerful but can be grabby, making smooth driving tricky. While the base four-cylinder sounds uninspired, it's pleasingly rapid, with the superb ZF eight-speed automatic just magically finding the right gears without fail. The M40i is somewhat of a missile, and its hard-hitting but sweet straight six is difficult to resist. Highway refinement is good and noise levels are commendably low for a soft top, even with the roof down, when buffeting is well controlled.
The 2023 BMW Z4 is a very good convertible that provides a fine driving experience with decent handling and comfort. Its biggest problem is the presence of more exciting rivals, with the mid-engined Boxster and Corvette both offering better outright ability and a sense of occasion. If you're happy cruising the boulevards with the top down, the Z4 is great, but the Corvette is far quicker and more exciting, the Boxster offers genuine sports car handling, and even the cheaper and slower Miata is more playful. To add insult to injury, even Toyota has been able to engineer more fun into the Z4's Supra twin, possibly thanks to its stiffer coupe structure. As good as it is, the Z4 doesn't quite have the performance range to beat its very capable rivals.
The base sDrive30i is the one to have. At less than $53k, it undercuts the Corvette and 718 Boxster, while still offering decent performance and fun. It's even better now that it comes with the standard M Sport package, so it looks to all the world like an M40i, too. The M40i mostly offers extra speed, but this comes at a premium of more than $12k, putting it in the midst of more desirable competition in the form of the Corvette and 718 Boxster. Considering it's not really a hardcore sports car, we'd leave the Dynamic Handling package and rather add the missing driver assists via the Driving Assistance package.
The most popular competitors of 2023 BMW Z4 Roadster: