The Z4 cabin is immediately familiar to any BMW owner, with many of the Munich builder's hallmarks: Simple white-on-black analog instrumentation, sweeping driver-centric lines, functional controls, and a high level of fit and finish (apart from the molding seams on the map pockets). In a generally evolutionary upgrade you notice first that, yes, it's definitely a BMW roadster, second, that iDrive has been revamped and the parking brake lever is gone, and lastly, it feels just like the old coupe with the top up.
The Z4 30i comes with leatherette upholstery, but that is available only in black, which might not be best in sunny areas where you're likely to park the car open. Order leather (designed for a convertible climate), or get the 35i, and the palette increases to four colors and only one of them is dark; on 35i versions you can even extend the leather coverage for the ultimate in premium feel. The low-gloss brushed aluminum or ash wood trim (which does reflect a bit of glare with the top down) of the 35i may be added to the 30i.
There is plenty of space for two people in the Z4, the head and legroom being about what you find in a full-size SUV. Standard manual seats and tilt/telescoping steering column provide enough adjustment to suit many driver sizes; slender types will appreciate the side bolsters on the seats and larger bodies will be framed as much by the door and console. While they may not look like thick armchairs the seats offer excellent support over multi-hour drives; the sport seats are a bit more confining for those of wider girths yet superb for a spirited drive. The driver's footwell is large enough for size-13 shoes to comfortably operate three well-positioned pedals and there's a good dead pedal to rest or brace your left foot on.
Inside storage has long been the bane of roadsters so particular attention was paid to that. The door pocket walls tilt out for access, and in doing so make excellent coin catchers for the change flying out your pants pocket at the first hard bend. A bin ahead of the shifter has good containment properties and there's a cubby atop the dash on cars without navigation. Other storage areas are behind the seats, and there is a pass-through door available for carrying skis or golf clubs. The armrest lid conceals two cupholders, the lid stays up on its own and clears even lanky elbows, and a third cupholder clips in to the right side of the console right about where the passenger's left knee rests. Cupholders are not the priority here, driving is.
The multifunction steering wheel is thick enough to feel good and thin enough to receive all the feedback the suspension delivers. Ahead of it are a large speedometer and tach, with smaller fuel and oil temperature gauges (more useful than coolant temperature) in the bottom. Digital displays in the center handle outside temperature, mileage, trip data, and, on automatics, gear indication.
Outward visibility is good, and a major improvement with the top up. The windshield curves across the top and the pillars are no impediment, but taller drivers will have to look around the inside mirror on up-and-down winding mountain roads. The three-quarter view right behind the seats is much better because the folding top design includes two small windows. Even the 8.8-inch stowable navigation display (1280x480p) was easy to read in direct sunlight, polarized sunglasses or not.
2010 Z4 Trims and Styling
The 2010 BMW Z4 sDrive30i comes with a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine of 255 horsepower at 6600 rpm, 220 pound-feet of torque at 2600 rpm and a six-speed manual transmission; a six-speed sport automatic with shift paddles is optional. It's delivered with faux leather leatherette upholstery, manual climate control, power retractable hardtop, heated power mirrors and rear window, six-way manual bucket seats, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, power windows and locks, trip computer and adaptive bi-Xenon headlamps. Options include brushed aluminum or ash wood trim and the Kansas leather upholstery from the sDrive35i.
The Z4 sDrive35i has a 3.0-liter inline-6 that delivers 300 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 300 pound-feet of torque from 1400 to 5000 rpm; it is a different engine than the 30i and employs twin turbochargers. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard and a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual optional. Other mechanical upgrades include larger brakes and wider rear tires and wheels. Cabin upgrades include standard leather upholstery, brushed aluminum trim or ash wood, and automatic dual-zone climate control. Kansas leather upholstery on the dash, visors, and door sills is optional, along with a 19-inch wheel upgrade to the Sport package.
The sDrive35is features an engine with increased intake air flow and increased boost pressure to deliver even more power. Its maximum output is 335 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 332 pound-feet of torque from 1500 to 4500 rpm. In addition, its engine management system includes an electronically-controlled overboost function which allows briefly increasing torque by another 37 pound-feet, for a temporary peak of 369 pound-feet and a significant increase in acceleration. While the sDrive35i will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, the sDrive35is will do it in 4.7 seconds.
The sDrive35is has the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission as standard equipment, with the programming tailored to complement the nature of the car and engine. The sDrive35is also features some M Sport upgrades, including M Aerodynamics and adaptive M Suspension, which combines a ride-height reduction of 10 millimeters with electronically-controlled shock absorbers to improve handling without compromising comfort. It also has special five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, with 19-inch wheels optionally available. Finally, it features aluminum trim bars in the outer air intakes, a rear bumper with accentuated surrounds on the tailpipes, and a rear diffuser finished on top in body color and below in a black textured surface.
2010 First Drive and Conclusions BMW Z4
BMW labels this Z4 an expression of joy. We usually just smile, and the Z4 may well bring a smile to your face, so we'll go along for now. While the retractable top and added features have nudged it a bit closer to grand touring car than sports car it is still clearly aimed at those who enjoy driving. Both inline sixes are smooth as an America's Cup boat hull right to redline, deliver a sonorous note, are 3.0 liters in capacity and there ends most similarity. The 30i engine is a very light, modern, rev-happy unit that brings 255 horsepower at 6600 rpm and 220 pound-feet of torque at 2600 rpm; it has more than enough power for any road and delivers it in linear fashion, its output rising commensurate with revs. This package is EPA-rated at 18/28 mpg with both the manual and the automatics, numbers we easily met or exceeded.
The BMW Z4 picks up right where the last generation left off, or as a more intimate, involving 6 Series cabrio. That it is a bit bigger and more luxurious doesn't indicate any loss of soul or enjoyment, and the folding hardtop offers the best of coupe and roadster forms with few of the drawbacks of either. "Sleek styling, a high-class interior and plenty of performance combine to make the 2010 BMW Z4 one of the most desirable luxury roadsters available." says Edmunds We agree and think it's the best sports car in this class.