An all-new BMZ Z4 Roadster has hit the streets. But it seems like the only time you hear about it is when people refer to it as sharing its basic chassis with the reborn Toyota Supra. Well, we’ve been Z4 fans since it first arrived for 2004. And, despite a dwell in production, we think this 20-20 Z4 deserved its own time in the sun.
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. And the 2020 Z4 M40i certainly 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.
But there is an all-new chassis beneath, and wheelbase actually shrinks almost an inch, while overall length grows by almost 4. Not to worry, that increased overhang space is well used, as proportions now have an almost classic sports car vibe compared to the extreme lack of overhangs in most modern performance machines; and body panels are now much more expressive.
Like the first generation Z4, the folding top is now cloth; no hardtop like last gen. But, you won’t really miss it. Plus, it weighs less, allows for quicker operation, and stores much more compactly; providing 9.9 cubic-ft. of trunk space; that’s up 50%.
The base 30i, with its 255-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo I4 actually arrived for ‘19, but you had wait until model year ‘20 to get this 3.0-liter inline-6 turbo which is shared with the Toyota Supra. Rear-wheel-drive only, of course, with 382-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque.
Roadster appropriate, there’s seating for just 2, but you and your lucky passenger will get a slightly updated take on the typical BMW driver-centric environment.
Plenty of room inside for all body types, and seats are comfortable enough for whatever extended getaways you may have planned.
Tech features include the Live Cockpit Pro high-res. digital instrument cluster, 10-inch touchscreen with iDrive 7.0, and available head-up display.
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.
Throwing caution to the wind, we hit the venerable blacktop of our test track for some ¼-mile runs and more.
Tenacious grip for bolting off the line was hard to come by, but when it all comes together, the M40i will get you to 60 in less than 4-seconds. The 8-speed automatic transmission delivers gear changes like its life depends on it; yet somehow does so quite smoothly.
Handling is a real highlight, with immediate response that some may complain about being twitchy; we’d describe it more as almost intuitive, as the car carries out your requests instantaneously.
Compared to last gen., this is a totally new suspension design; combining a double-joint spring strut front, with a 5-link rear. The M40i also gets the Active M suspension with Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ modes; as well as M Sport active locking rear differential, and M Sport brakes behind either 18 or 19-inch light-alloy wheels.
You can find some oversteer if you go looking for it, but you won’t find much body roll at all.
You do have to pay to play that tune of course; street ride can be harsh if the pavement is anything but new.
As for safety, Collision Mitigation Braking is standard, but blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning are extra, as part of a Driver Assistance Package that also includes BMW’s Active Driving Assistant.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 24-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; our average, not bad, at 25.8 miles-per-gallon of Premium. Making for an average Energy Impact Score of 12.7-barrels of annual oil use, and 5.5 tons of CO2 emissions.
The base BMW Z4 sDrive30i starts at $50,695; this sDrive M40i, at $64,695.
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. With the 2020 BMW Z4 sDrive M40i, not only has BMW kept the traditional sports car alive, but made the Z4 more dynamic than ever; becoming less of a cute cruiser, and more of a serious performance machine. So, does Porsche have anything to worry about? Not really. But, for us and BMW fans, the most potent Z4 ever, is just what the doctor ordered.
Engine: 3.0 liter
Torque: 369 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 3.9 seconds
EPA: 24 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 12.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.5 tons/yr