2011 BMW Z4Enlarge Photo
Although BMW has been making Z series roadsters for twenty years, the latest Z4 represents a significant leap forward for the German brand. While previous iterations of the Z have tried hard to be a pure sports car (often sacrificing some of the luxuries that BMW owners have come to expect), the second-generation seems to strike a better balance between canyon carver and coastal cruiser. The hardtop convertible, available in three different flavors ranging in power from 255 to the newest 335 horsepower Z4 sDrive35is, always has enough power on tap to bring a smile to your face. And while the Z4’s comfortable seats may leave you feeling like your being hugged by a pillowy cloud, it takes a bit of effort to thread this drop top through the corners, as the front end feels a bit light and prone to understeer. However, the sDrive35is seems to be a more controllable beast that more eagerly bites into corners.
Depending on your engine and transmission of choice (6-speed manual or 7-speed dual clutch auto-manual), the roadster can go from 0-60 in anywhere from 4.8 to 6 seconds. Be warned though, if you’re considering this BMW as your next car the sDrive35is has a very different personality than its little brothers, so be sure to test drive all the variations that fit into your price range. And that’s quite a range: starting at $46,000, the Z4 can climb to nearly $70,000 depending on the model and options. However for that price, you can rest assured that you’ll have purchased a thoroughly enjoyable and comfortable roadster. Or coupe. It’s your choice, as it switches back and forth in about 21 seconds.