First drive: 2019 BMW Z4 review 

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 18 May 2019

Tim Nicholson road tests the sporty new 2019 BMW Z4 M40i roadster.


First impressions:

BMW teams up with Toyota and returns to the roadster segment with the all-new Z4.

 

The sportscar segment is a challenge for car-makers these days. Shrinking volumes combined with increasing development costs have forced some brands to save money by teaming up with another manufacturer to develop a new sports model.

BMW and Toyota are the latest brands to cooperate on a sportscar program and the results are the reborn Toyota Supra coupe that arrives Down Under in the third quarter of the year, and BMW’s freshly launched Z4 roadster.

Returning to the market after a three-year absence, the Z4 gives BMW a rival to battle the likes of Audi’s TT and the Mercedes-Benz SLC as well as the Porsche Boxster and Jaguar F-Type.

Drivers view from a blue BMW Z4 M50i coupe cruising down an empty single-lane road with dry surrounds

In a local twist, the Z4 was designed by Australian BMW designer Calvin Luk. It marks something of a departure for BMW design, with one headlight located above the other, rather than next to it as is usually the case with the company’s familiar quad headlight setup.

The stretched BMW kidney grille gives the impression of extra width at the front, but the striking rear end features slimline LED taillights similar to those on the all-new 8 Series.

BMW is offering three Z4 variants in Australia, starting with the sDrive20i at $84,900, the sDrive30i for $104,900 and the performance flagship M40i from $124,900 all before on-road costs.

The co-developed Z4 and Supra share BMW’s Cluster Architecture (CLAR) modular platform that underpins many current BMW models, including the 8 Series range.

Blue BMW Z4 M50i coupe cruising down an empty single-lane road with dry surrounds

At the launch at Mitchelton Wines near Nagambie, we drove the entry-level sDrive20i and the M40i M Performance that is expected to be the top-selling variant. 

All Z4s are rear-wheel drive and use the same eight-speed sports automatic transmission.

The sDrive20i is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine producing 145kW/320Nm. BMW says it can sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.6 seconds and consumes 6.5L/100km while emitting 148g/km.

The mid-range sDrive30i uses the same powertrain but uprated to 190kW/400Nm. It can hit 100km/h from standstill in 5.4 seconds, consumes the same amount of petrol as the base variant and emits 149g/km of CO2.

We spent the most time at the media launch in the M40i, which uses a potent 250kW/500Nm 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged unit. BMW’s 0-100km/h figure for the M40i is 4.5 seconds, while fuel use increases to 7.4L/100km and CO2 emissions are 169g/km.

A close up of the driver's seat and interior design features of a BMW Z4 M40i coupe
Outside shot of a blue BMW Z4 M40i coupe with headlight details and alloy wheels

Heavy rains over the two-day launch provided an opportunity to test the traction of the Z4. The rear-drive convertible can get a little tail happy in the wet, but stability and traction control keep everything in check.

Steering is weighted on the heavier side but it’s sharp and direct. The suspension of the M40i is tuned for performance, but it manages to maintain a surprising level of comfort.

Acceleration from a standing start is deliciously quick in the M40i, and the engine note, particularly with the roof down, is glorious.

A brief stint in the lighter sDrive20i highlighted BMW’s willing and responsive 2.0-litre turbo engine and proved that opting for the base model does not necessarily mean compromising on performance.

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BMW Z4 M40i coupe

PRICE

 

Price as tested: $124,900 plus approximately $9000 on-road costs.

Model range: $84,900 to $124,900.

DRIVETRAIN

3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive. 

Power: 250kW @ 5000-6500rpm.

Torque: 500Nm @ 1600-4500rpm.

Tyres: 255/40 ZR18 95 Y front and 275/40 ZR18 99 Y rear.

FUEL

95 RON petrol, 52-litre tank.

Consumption: 7.4L/100km (government test).

Emissions: 169g/km CO2

STANDARD SAFETY

Four airbags, rollover protection system, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function, reversing camera, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, front collision warning and rear collision prevention.

STANDARD FEATURES

Adaptive LED headlights, 19-inch light alloy wheels, 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system, keyless entry and start including digital key, 10.25-inch display with navigation and DAB+ digital radio, wireless smartphone charger.

WARRANTY/SERVICES

Three year/unlimited kilometre warranty, condition-based servicing with service packages available for purchase.