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BMW Z4: Test Drive Review

Date: 28 May 2009   |   Author:

New BMW Z4
Category: Sports
P11D price: £32,395
Key rival: Mercedes-Benz SLK

The new BMW Z4 is supposed to be a much more user-friendly car than its predecessor.

Bigger and cleaner as well as safer and more refined thanks to the folding hard-top replacing the cloth roof, the latest model is aimed squarely at Audi's TT Roadster and, specifically, the Mercedes SLK.

It's 148mm longer and 9mm wider than before, while head, shoulder and elbow room is increased by 44, 20 and 43mm respectively.

There are three engine options: the 204PS 2.5-litre sDrive23i, 3.0-litre 258PS sDrive30i and 306PS 3.0-litre SDrive35i. All models get the new folding metal roof, which drops in 20 seconds but can only be operated at a standstill.

The boot is both larger and smaller than on the previous Z4. Roof up, there's an extra 50 litres of space compared to its predecessor, but that metal roof needs more space when folded compared to a fabric hood, meaning 60 litres less for luggage when topless.

Roof up, the cabin still feels pretty enclosed, thanks to the sporty low seating position and long view down the bonnet. The extra room over the old Z4 is, though, obvious and welcome. There's plenty of storage inside and the rear visibility is claimed to be 52% improved thanks to the glass rear window.

Roof down, and with the optional and vital £205 wind deflector in place, it's quiet enough at motorway speed to enjoy a conversation at normal volume, and the car's as good to drive as you'd expect a rear-wheel drive BMW to be. It's maybe a little softer than before, but still what you'd expect from a Z4.

While cars like this are generally purchases made with the heart, the wonder that is BMW's efficient dynamics CO2 reduction programme means the Z4 still makes the most sense compared to its Audi and Mercedes rivals. The sDrive30i has a CO2 figure of 199g/km, compared with 220g/km for an SLK280 and 250g/km for a TT V6, although that model does at least come with four-wheel drive instead of the rear-wheel drive found on the other two.

This all means the Z4 driver paying 40% tax will save £600 per year on their benefit-in-kind as the BMW is five bands lower than the SLK.

The fuel economy figures obviously mirror the CO2 advantage, with the BMW averaging 33.2mpg, the Mercedes 29.7mpg and the Audi 27.2mpg. Any business considering running one of this trio will note that despite them all costing within £850 of each other, over three years the BMW will be 64.5p per mile to run, 2.3ppm less than the SLK and 7.1p every mile less than the Audi. It's actually more powerful and quicker to 60mph than its German peers too.

The new Z4 makes more sense than ever. It's cheaper to run, more practical, cleaner, more spacious and is a good visual mix of style and aggression. Senior staff allowed to pick cars like this shouldn't be disappointed.

BMW Z4 sDrive30i
P11D price£32,395
Model price range£28,645-£37,060
Fuel consumption33.2mpg
CO2 (tax) £146/£292
BIK 20/40% per month£146/£292
Service intervalvariable
Insurancegroup 17
Warranty3yrs/unltd mls
Boot space (min/max)180/310 litres
Engine size/power2996cc/258PS
Top speed/0-62mph155mph/5.8 secs
On sale May 2009
VerdictGreat costs equation
backs up new, more
user-friendly Z4


Great costs equation backs up new, more user-friendly Z4