2020 BMW Z4
by John Davis
A new BMW Z4 may not incite the kind of hysteria brought about by the original Z3 roadster that James Bond drove onto the scene back in 1996; but let’s not forget, this is one roadster that beats with the heart of BMW. So, when we took delivery of our test 2020 Z4 M40i, it quickly got our blood pumping.
Now 3-generations removed from that original Z3, and no longer built here in in America, the look of this Z4 is not that much different from last gen. For the record, it looks nothing like it’s engineering kin the Toyota Supra. With that, there is an all-new co-developed chassis beneath. Wheelbase actually shrinks almost an inch, while overall length grows by almost 4. That increased overhang space is well used, as proportions now have an almost classic sports car vibe and body panels are now more expressive.
Like the first generation Z4, the folding top is now cloth. It weighs less than the previous gen’s hardtop. It also allows for quicker operation, and stores much more compactly. Trunk space is up 50%.
The base 30i continues with a 255-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo I4. New this model year is the 3.0-liter inline-6 turbo which is shared with the Supra. Like Supra, the Z4 is rear-wheel-drive only. Our test six rates 382-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque.
Roadster appropriate, there’s seating for just 2. However, you and your lucky passenger will get a slightly updated take on the typical BMW driver-centric environment where tech features continue to abound. There is plenty of room inside for all body types, and seats are comfortable enough for whatever extended getaways you may have planned.
With the new soft top up, it’s a pleasantly calm driving experience. When down, it remains quiet enough for easy conversation, and with the removable wind blocker in place, buffeting is really kept to a minimum. Unsurprisingly, handling is a real highlight, with immediate response as the car carries out your requests nearly instantaneously. Compared to last year, this is a totally new suspension design; combining a double-joint spring strut front, with a 5-link rear. The only downside is a sometimes jarring street ride unless the pavement is new and smooth. As for street safety, Collision Mitigation Braking is standard and other active driver aids are optional.
For our complete road test of the 2020 BMW Z4, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3921 that begins airing January 24, 2020. For a listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings and throughout the week on the MotorTrend cable network. While convertible sales have been very fickle over the years, there’s always a place in our automotive hearts for a 2-seat performance-oriented roadster. The 2020 BMW Z4 is just what the doctor ordered.