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2019 BMW Z4 Roadster Review By Larry Nutson


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2019 BMW Z4 Roadster
Fast into the future

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

The first of the BMW Z Roadsters came on the scene about thirty years ago with the introduction of the BMW Z1. Now with the sixth generation of the Z-series and the third as a Z4, an all new Z4 Roadster has been introduced for 2019.

One might wonder why it makes sense to bring a new car, especially a very personal 2-seater with limited all-around usage, into the market. The Z4 is produced in Graz, Austria and sold in global markets. For many a driver a 2-seat roadster gets the job done.

Here in the U.S., BMW’s sales for the first seven months of 2019 are up. As you might expect the gain is in the SUV business which is offsetting declines in the car business. But it appears the new Z4 does have a buyer audience selling on average around 230 units a month in the U.S.

Actually, with the wide-spread availability of all types of vehicles for short term rental no one should feel constrained by their choice of a daily-use household vehicle.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The all-new Z4 is of classical roadster design with a long wheelbase, a long and low silhouette and a compact rear all wrapped by a contemporary and stylish body. The 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive30i Roadster arrived in the first part of 2019 and for 2020 the BMW Z4 M40i Roadster will be added to the lineup.

The base price of the new Z4 is $49,700. For that you get a 255-horsepower twin turbo 2.0-L 4-cylinder that will go from stop to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

If you need more punch, the M40i will sport 382-horsepower from a twin turbo 3.0-L 6-cylinder that will drop the 0 to 60 mph time to 3.9 seconds.

Top speed for both models is 155 mph. That’ll mess up your hair!

Both models of the new BMW Z4 Roadster, sDrive30i and M40i, come equipped with a standard eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission with shift paddles on the steering wheel. There’s also a Launch Control function for hard acceleration from a standing-start.

I had the opportunity to spend more time than usual in the driver’s seat of a 2019 sDrive 30i. My first top-down jaunt was at the Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally held at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. This event gave me and other of my colleagues the opportunity to drive the Z4 around the Road America 4-mile circuit, and also in a timed autocross competition plus around the twisty country roads of Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine.

My second go-round was somewhat of a daily living experience around my Chicago home. As it turned out my two drives were with one and the same Misano Blue Metallic Z4.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

This particular Z4 was loaded up with the M Sport Package ($2,950), Premium Package ($1,600), Executive Package ($2,500), Track Handling Package with M Sport brakes and M Sport differential, ($2,450) plus some free-standing options, bringing the bottom line to $63,545.

For $700 the optional Adaptive M Sport suspension, standard on the M40i Roadster and optional on the sDrive30i, boosts handling performance. Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes can be selected for noticeable changes in ride and handling. With a 10 mm lower ride height, the Adaptive M Sport suspension includes electronically controlled dampers.

Another of the free standing options was 19X9 and 19X10 inch wheels ($600) which come fitted with staggered 255/35 and 275/35 tires, front and rear. These are great for dry, open roads and track use. But, they require concentration to avoid damage on the poor surfaces of city streets. If I were buying I might go with the optional 18X9 and 18X10 inch wheels fitted with staggered 255/40 and 275/40 tires, front and rear. Standard equipped are 8X18 and 9X18 inch wheels with 225/45 and 255/40, front and rear.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

On the convenience side, the electrically operated soft top can be opened or closed in the space of ten seconds, at speeds up to 31 mph. And the trunk is 50% larger than the previous Z4 at 9.9 cu.ft. and easily holds two roll-aboard suitcase, which I indeed did on a trip to the airport.

Dynamically the Z4 is loads of fun. It’s very agile and handles as if on rails. It rotates through turns with ease. In our Road America autocross competition the Z4 continuously ran with the lowest times for many different drivers.


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More details about the tech of the new Z4 as well as specifications can be found at www.bmwusa.com. Both models are now available and for 2020 there are no product changes and pricing remains unchanged.

The BMW Z4 is a candidate for the 2020 NACTOY Car of the Year.

© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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