When BMW launched the latest generation of Z4 roadster
in 2009, it tweaked the recipe of the car to allow it to compete more effectively against the Mercedes-Benz SLK
. While the original Z4 was a lightweight roadster, the newer generation has evolved into more of a grand-touring roadster, complete with the now-expected power-retractable folding hard top.
That’s not a criticism, merely an observance of the car’s evolution. Styling remains true to the Z4’s roots, with the elongated hood, wide stance and short overhangs still staples of the car’s design. Handling remains the car’s forte as well, with quick steering, a nicely balanced chassis and strong brakes rounding out the package.
The biggest change for 2012 comes in engines, and BMW has dropped its entry-level six-cylinder in favor of a turbocharged four for base level models. Gone is last year’s Z4 sDrive30i, replaced by the new Z4 sDrive28i
, but we doubt that buyers will be disappointed.
The new four-cylinder engine is good for 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and can be mated to the buyer’s choice of a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic. The sDrive28i is capable of a 0-60 run in under six seconds, but can still deliver EPA estimated fuel economy as high as 22 mpg city and 34 mpg highway with the manual transmission.
In the middle of the range, the Z4 sDrive35i carries over from last year, still good for 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque from its turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six engine. That gives the car enough power for as 0-60 dash in 5.1 seconds with a manual gearbox, or 5.0 seconds when fitted with BMW’s seven-speed, dual-clutch DCT transmission.
In case that’s not fast enough for you, the Z4 sDrive35is offers a turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six good for 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, and comes mated only to a DCT gearbox. The sprint from 0-60 happens in just 4.8 seconds, thanks in part to an overboost function that can temporarily increase torque output to 369 pound feet.
While there’s a lot to like about the performance, comfort and amenities of the Z4, its price starts on the high side and quickly escalates as you add options. The base Z4 sDrive28i starts at just under $50,000, but a loaded up Z4 sDrive35is can top the $75,000 mark.
For an in-depth look at the 2012 Z4’s styling, performance, quality and safety, see our comprehensive review on The Car Connection