2013 BMW Z4 Review


The last BMW Z4 wasn’t quite sporty enough to challenge the Porsche Boxter, nor comfortable enough to cruise ahead of the Mercedes SLK. It was confused with what it wanted to be. And the controversial ‘flame surfacing’ design philosophy courtesy of Mr.Bangle didn’t help either.

Meet the new Z4. The sleeker, less comicy roadster with a folding hard top aimed squarely at Stuttgart’s big duo. Since its launch in 2010, the latest Z4 has seen numerous minor updates, including the new entry point into the propeller-badged roadster ownership. In line with the industry trend of downsizing, the previously all six-cylinder Z4 range now gains a new turbocharged four-pot engine, which is found under the bonnet of our test car here.

The range now starts with the sDrive20i (tested), with the sDrive28i slotted in the middle and the sDrive35i topping it off. The varying degree of power across the range is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual or a fast shifting eight-speed automatic transmission in both the sDrive20i and sDrive28i, while the performance focused sDrive35i makes use of a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox.

Design and Comfort

In a quest to make the Z4 more comfortable, BMW has stretched the roadster by some 180mm and widen it by 9mm. It is also around 180kg heavier than its predecessor.

If anything, the larger dimensions work in favour of the new Z4 design. The deeply channelled bonnet has a touch of Zagato glamour about it with lines that continue over the side of the car to meet the prominent shoulder crease above the rear wheel arch. The car’s width is accentuated at the back with a wide bumper and a pronounced lip spoiler incorporated into the boot.

Our test car has been fitted with the optional M Sport pack, which replaces the standard front and rear bumpers with sportier items. There are also the eye-catching five-spoke 18-inch M Sport wheels with M badging.


Inside, the low driving position is wrapped around by a contemporary and sporty interior. M Sport treatment continues on the inside with aluminium carbon trim, M Sport steering wheel, sport seats (which are quite comfortable), M entry sills and individual headliner in Anthracite.

At the back, cargo space is scarce as the folding hard top takes up a huge chunk of boot space. This can be a problem if you are planning to take the Z4 on a weekend getaway.

Score: 8.0/10

Performance and Handling

The sDrive20i’s 135 kW are produced by the company’s now widely used 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The peak power arrives at 5,000 rpm, accompanied by 270 Nm of torque which is available from just 1,250 rpm and hangs around until 4,500 rpm. If you are willing to sacrifice some fuel efficiency, there is also a more powerful version of the same engine, which is fitted in the sDrive28i, producing 180 kW and 350 Nm.

Getting off the line, the sDrive20i’s boosted mill feels slightly hesitant, but gains good mid range punch quickly thanks to the wide torque band, before starting to lose its breaths from north of 5k rpm. Understandably, this base engine is tuned for fuel efficiency more than anything, but 135 kW look like some low figures considering this is the sort of power turbo engines with 0.4-litre less are making these days.


If the base sDrive20i falls short in outright power, dynamically, it stayed true to its roadster credentials. With 50:50 weight distribution, a neutral chassis and the M Sport suspension (which is part of the optional M Sport Pack that we highly recommend getting), the Z4 feels agile, light and offers superb grip, even in the wet. There is only a slight tendency of understeer at very tight corners. Sitting so far back (just in front of the rear axle), you feel every bit of car’s weight shift, which further elevates the driving experience.

With the adaptive suspension in Comfort mode, road irregularities are still felt but damped, while Sport mode offers more precision and control without being overly trashy. In Sport Plus, traction control is turned off to allow for even greater body control and a bit of side way action if so desired.

The steering is precise and offers good feedback but is missing the kind of sharpness you would expect in a sports car. The brakes bite hard, right from the top of the pedal while still remain progressive.

The Z4’s longer wheelbase compared to its predecessor improves comfort levels on the freeway, but wind and road noise is still high in the cabin, despite having a hard top.

Score: 8.0/10



The quality of materials is a big improvement in the new Z4. The cabin is beautifully finished and the aluminium inserts feel and look premium, but an Audi, even in models costing nearly half as much as the Z4, still offer a bit more glamour.

Score 8.0/10


On test, 2.0-litre turbo four returns an average of 8.8L/100km with almost equal split of urban, freeway and spirited driving. Although the figure falls short of BMW’s claims, it is still an admirable figure for a roadster with sporty pretensions.

Score 7.5/10



The sDrive20i comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels (M Sport gets 18-inch wheels), dual-zone air-conditioning, electrically adjustable seats with heating, bird’s eye view, automatic bi-xenon headlights, tyre pressure monitor and navigation through a high resolution 8.8-inch LCD with DVD drive, iDrive controller and integrated hard drive for audio files.

Of course, there is the long list of options if you have just been lured into the dealership by that headline entry-level price, in which you will also find the $4,900 M Sport Package add-on.

Score 7.5/10


Our Score: 4.0/5

The 2013 BMW Z4 is a formidable roadster that does many things well. Along with the striking looks, it has remarkable dynamics. And it doesn’t fair too badly at the bowser too.

However, it is just missing the sharp-edged, pure ‘out of the box’ driving fun that you should be getting from a roadster, regardless of the speed you’re doing.

Price (Excl. On-Roads):From $79,900 (sDrive20i) to 119,545 (sDrive35i)
As tested: $84,800 (sDrive20i M Sport)
Warranty:3-year or 100,000km
Engine:Turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol (sDrive20i)

135kW @ 5,000rpm, 270Nm @ 1,250-4,500rpm; (Tested)

Turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol (sDrive28i)

180kW @ 5,000-6,000rpm, 250Nm @ 1,250-4,800rpm;

Turbocharged 3.0-litre 6-cylinder petrol (sDrive35i)

250kW @ 5,900rpm, 450Nm @ 1,500-4,500rpm;

Transmission6-speed manual, 8-speed automatic (tested) or 7-speed dual clutch
0-100km/hClaimed: 6.9s; Tested: 7.3s
Fuel Consumption (Combined):6.8L/100km (sDrive20i), tested: 8.8L/100km; 6.8L/100km (sDrive28i); 9.0L/100km (sDrive35i)
Body:2-door 2-seat roadster
Safety:5-star ANCAP
Dimensions:Length: 4239mm, Width: 1790mm, Height: 1291mm, Wheelbase: 2496mm
Kerb Weight1,420-1,525 kg

Competitors: Mercedes-Benz SLK, Audi TT Convertible, Mazda MX-5, Nissan 370Z Roadster, Porsche Boxter

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