Premium sporty/performance car; Built in Germany
  • 2-door convertible
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $15,100 – $45,400*


2009 BMW Z4 Front


2009 BMW Z4 Rear


2009 BMW Z4 Interior


2009 BMW Z4 Profile

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Handling
  • Interior materials
  • Brake performance
Cons:
  • Cargo room
  • Road noise

BMW’s revamped Z4 is a reasonably practical daily-driver convertible, and a capable two-seat sports car for enthusiasts. Sweet six-cylinder engines, a classy interior, and a rewarding driving experience are among the compelling traits the Z4 boasts. These cars were pricey when new and hold their value well, so used-car prices also are hefty.

Overview

Redesigning of BMW’s Z4 sports car for 2009 gave it freshened styling and new powertrains.

Again seating two, the Z4 came only as a convertible with a power-retractable hardtop. The fixed-roof coupe was discontinued. Production of this sporty roadster also shifted from the United States to BMW’s home in Germany. The 2009 Z4 had about the same wheelbase length as the 2003-2008 generation, but measured about 5 inches longer overall. Two trim levels were offered, each with an inline 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. The sDrive30i engine developed 255 horsepower, while the sDrive35i held a turbocharged version that made 300 hp. Both mated with a standard six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic was optional on the sDrive30i, while a new seven-speed automated manual was optional for the sDrive35i. Standard safety features included antilock brakes, traction control, an antiskid system, and side airbags that provided head and torso protection. Included with the optional navigation system was BMW’s iDrive control interface. Also available was BMW’s Dynamic Drive Control, which allowed drivers to alter throttle, traction control, and steering response. When paired with the optional Adaptive M Suspension, Dynamic Drive Control also let the driver adjust suspension firmness. An optional “through-loading” system included a luggage pass-through for skis or golf bags to the passenger compartment. BMW’s option list also included front and rear obstacle detection. Z4 rivals included the Chevrolet Corvette, Jaguar XK, and larger Audi A5.

Yearly Updates

2010 Z4
Changes for 2010 were modest. HD radio now was standard, and automatic high-beam headlights newly optional. The optional Sport Package included Dynamic Drive Control, plus adjustable shock-absorber control and 18-inch run-flat tires. Leather upholstery and automatic climate control were optional on the sDrive30i and standard on the sDrive35i.
2011 Z4
The 2011 BMW Z4 lineup gained a new, high-performance model, the 335-horsepower sDrive35is.
2012 Z4
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four making 240 horsepower replaced the 255-hp 3.0-liter inline six in the base version of the 2012 BMW Z4. The turbo four could be mated to either a 6-speed manual transmission or a new 8-speed automatic.
2013 Z4
Z4 saw minor trim, but otherwise there were no major changes for 2013.
2014 Z4
There were no changes to the Z4 for 2014.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

In the Z4 sDrive 30i, a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine makes 255 horsepower, working with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. A turbocharged 3.0-liter goes into the sDrive 35i, generating 300 horsepower and mating with a six-speed manual or seven-speed automated-manual transmission. For 2012, the 255-hp 3.0-liter six was replaced by a 240-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to either a 6-speed manual or a new 8-speed automatic. All Z4s have rear-wheel drive.

Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 240
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 260
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
8-speed automatic
23/34
24/33
dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 255
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 220
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual

19/28

dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 255
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 220
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic

19/29

Turbocharged dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 300
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual

18/25

26.1

Turbocharged dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 300
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 300
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic

17/24

Turbocharged dohc I6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 335
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 332
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic

17/24

Road Test

Acceleration should meet BMW enthusiasts’ expectations. Both six-cylinder engines are smooth and strong, and the sDrive 35i suffers virtually no turbo lag. However, some is noticed in the 335is added for 2011. BMW said the sDrive30i with automatic achieved a 6.0-second 0-60 time, the sDrive35i with an automated manual transmission made the same run in 5.0 seconds, and the 335is could do it in 4.7 seconds Those claims feel credible to us. Both automatic transmissions are well-behaved around town, but the six-speed automatic in the sDrive30i is a bit slow to downshift while in normal drive mode. Both automatics incorporate a sport mode that holds gears longer for more spirited performance, and each can be shifted manually using either the console lever or steering wheel-mounted paddles. We have had no opportunity to drive a Z4 with the turbocharged four-cylinder engine that became standard for 2012.

Fuel economy is about on par for a premium sports car. A test sDrive35i with manual shift averaged 26.1 mpg in mostly highway driving. All Z4 models require premium-grade gasoline.

With the standard tires and suspension, Z4 yields a firm ride. That suspension can’t quite smother bumps, but it offers enough compliance so the ride isn’t harsh. Ride quality suffers little with the available Sport Package.

Handling is agile and stable, as expected, and even the base tires are grippy. BMW’s powerful brakes are easy to modulate and feature excellent pedal feel. The available Sport Package does little to enhance overall handling prowess.

All engines emit enticing exhaust notes that should bring a smile to an enthusiast’s face. Top-down conversation is possible at highway speeds, but tire noise can be intrusive on coarse surfaces when the top is up.

Gauges are well placed and easy to read. Most switchgear is logical and easy to find. The Z4’s classy interior uses premium materials and features fine craftsmanship. All Z4s made available for testing have had the “Kansas Leather” interior that has been optional in the sDrive30i and standard in sDrive35i. Optional wood trim adds to the swanky vibe.

Adults have enough headroom and legroom in the cozy cabin, and the standard manual tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel helps driver positioning. If installed, the optional power front seats are all-day comfortable, even for larger folks. The Z4’s low sports-car stance and wide doors can seriously complicate entry and exit. These roadsters have no rear seat.

The trunk is fairly roomy for a two-seat sports car, and space shrinks only slightly with the top down. BMW claimed the optional through-loading system allows a single full-size golf bag to fit with the top down; or, two can be stowed with the top up. Interior storage includes a glovebox, hinged door pockets, a shallow console tray, three cupholders, and a small shelf behind the seats. Cars without the optional navigation system get a small covered bin on the dashtop.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2010 BMW Z4 sDrive35i w/manual

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 9
90%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 9
90%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - N/A
N/A0%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 53

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
98.3 166.9 70.5 50.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
8.0 14.5 2
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.1 42.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Transmission leak
Description: Transmission leaks transmission fluid near oil cooler lines. (2010-14)
Software problems
Description: Faulty engine-position-management software can cause engine to go to reduced power mode. (2014)

Recall History

2009 Z4
Description: Vehicles built on March 10-19, 2010, may have a defective crimp connector in a belt tensioner wiring plug, which could lead to increased electrical resistance; that could cause the safety belt tensioner to fail to deploy in a crash.
2009-2011 Z4
Description: A battery cable connector may degrade over time, potentially resulting in a break in the connection and loss of power to the vehicle.
2010-11 Z4
Description: Bolts securing variable-camshaft-timing-adjustment unit can loosen or break. The engine might lose power or stall.
2012 Z4
Description: Current to electric power steering may vary, leading to sudden loss of power steering.
2012-14 Z4
Description: Failure of brake vacuum pump results in a reduction of braking power.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.