As BMW's smaller, sportier roadster, the 2013 Z4 holds a unique place in the ever-expanding BMW range.
A long hood, short rear deck, and raked windshield give the Z4 a mix of classic and modern roadster proportions. Subtle but effective surfacing along the sides lends a dynamic quality, while a not-too-aggressive front end says both "BMW" and "sporty" in an outdoor voice.
That's a fair statement. As the Z4 has grown to become equal parts modern BMW and sporty. Once a more compact, sparely-built car, the Z4 has added substance and equipment--and a degree of refinement--that was previously left out in the name of sport.
There are only three variants of the Z4, and it's all about engines and power. The sDrive 28i uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The numbers belie the four-cylinder Z4's performance, which, thanks to ample low-end torque from the turbochargers, feels like a much more powerful normally aspirated engine--to a point. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a seven-speed dual clutch is available. Unlike the latest Porsche and Audi dual-clutches, however, the 2013 Z4's feels a bit more consumer-grade than sports car-grade.
Next up the line is the sDrive35i, powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine rated at 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The extra power is immediately noticeable in comparison to the four-cylinder, though it's only 0.4 seconds quicker to 60 mph at 5.1 seconds. Again, you get a choice of manual or dual-clutch transmissions.
At the top of the 2013 BMW Z4 range is the sDrive35is, which gets 335 horsepower and 4.8-second 0-60 mph times. The dual-clutch transmission is included with the sDrive35is specification.
All models get an adjustable suspension, offering normal, sport, and sport-plus modes. As you'd expect, they work as stated, with sport-plus mode best left to the track, or times when comfort is not a priority.
As much as the Z4 has grown, there's not much more space inside; both cabin and trunk space are limited. Seats are comfortable, however, and high-end materials give the Z4 the look and feel of a luxury car. A power-retractable hardtop withdraws or closes quickly and easily, effectively transforming the car into a coupe when up.
Priced from just under $50,000 up to $70,000 or more with a full suite of options, the Z4 sits in an odd place against competitors like the Audi TT or Mercedes-Benz SLK, though it does come in under the Porsche Boxster. Perhaps its pricing and position in the market match its unique blend of style, luxury, and sport.
For the full details on the 2013 BMW Z4, read the review at The Car Connection