BMW Z4 (2003 – 2009) Review

BMW Z4 (2003 – 2009) At A Glance


+Better looking and a sportier drive than its Z3 predecessor.

-Rear tyre wear on 3.0. Rims prone to kerbing. Can ground out on road humps.

On average it achieves 95% of the official MPG figure

The first generation of BMW Z4 showcased the firm’s ‘flame surfacing’ design style. Coming on the heels of Chris Bangle’s radical new direction for BMW’s styling, the Z4 was a complete and welcome break from the previous Z3.

However, the Z4 was styled by BMW’s Danish designer Anders Warming, so the car has its own unique appeal that helped it take on the Porsche Boxster directly where the Z3 had always trailed in the Porsche’s wake. Thanks to a spread of engines and dose of practicality, the Z4 also managed to challenge the Mercedes SLK and Audi TT to be a very competent all-round roadster.

Produced in BMW’s Spartanburg factory in South Carolina it was obvious the main market for the Z4 was in the USA. That hasn’t stopped it being a success in the UK, which has been a strong market for the BMW convertible.

A fabric soft-top aped the Z3’s design, but the Z4 features a glass rear screen for added comfort, noise suppression and security. It also makes it easier to defrost on chilly mornings to make the Z4 usable all-year round.

Sticking with a classic front engine, rear-wheel drive layout, the Z4 enjoys perfect 50:50 weight distribution. It shows in the handling balance of the Z4, which errs much more on the sporty side than its Audi and Mercedes rivals. There is also quick reacting steering to deliver a keen driving experience.

BMW fitted the Z4 with its smooth, sonorous six-cylinder engines from the start in 2.5- and 3.0-litre guises. Both offer strong performance and were joined by a 2.2-litre six-cylinder in 2003. This latter engine was superseded by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder motor in 2005 which, although slower than the 2.2, is smoother and more enjoyable to use.

Real MPG average for a BMW Z4 (2003 – 2009)


Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

21–45 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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Ask Honest John

What's the best way to sell my car?

"What’s the best way to (reluctantly) sell my blue, one owner, 2004, 2.2-litre Z4 with 50,000 miles and FSH in great condition."
To get the most accurate price, I'd have a look at used car retailers to see what examples similar to yours are going for. At the end of the day, it'll only sell for what someone is willing to pay for it - so be open to sensible offers. You'll get more through a private sale, but it can also be a lot more hassle dealing with messages, viewings etc, so some people are willing to lose some money to sell through a dealer. An alternative would be to sell to a car buying site, the good ones will give you a valuation and then they handle the selling process. You're potentially more likely to sell successfully this way than a private sale right now due to Covid, but be prepared to be offered less than you would selling privately.
Answered by Georgia Petrie

What's the best used BMW Z4 to buy?

"I am considering buying a BMW Z4 and my budget is £12000 - which models would you recommend keeping in mind running costs? And what age of vehicle could I expect for the money? Also should I be overly concerned about the metal folding roof?"
The sDrive18i will probably be quick enough and is the most efficient model. Alternatively, consider the 20i - it uses the same 2.0-litre twin-turbo petrol engine with a bit more power. Your budget should get a 2014 or 2015 car with low miles. Make sure the roof operates correctly but we've not had any issues reported.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Can you recommend a unique sports car with future classic potential?

"I'm looking for a good quality, two-seater sports car for the weekends that has a large petrol engine. I want it to have some unique qualities, not too ubiquitous on the roads and has the potential of classic status in the future. I have about £8000 to spend. I would prefer a coupe body."
You could consider a Nissan 350Z. It's not got the most premium of interiors but it has got a 3.5-litre V6 engine and I think it ticks the future classic box well. There are quite a few about but many have high mileages and haven't led easy lives, so if you find a good one it could be a potential investment. Also, look at a BMW Z4 Coupe. It's got a nicer interior than the 350Z and is fun to drive. Alternatively, a Mazda RX-8 is a four-seater but a quirky choice with a rotary engine and your budget will get you a very good example. Do your research first, though, they can go expensively wrong.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Am I entitled to a refund for prematurely cracked tires?

"I bought four new Bridgestone Potenzas for my 2004 BMW Z4 around 14 months ago from a big name tire company. I've noticed both rear tires have started to develop cracks around the outer part of the tread. I've done less than 3000 miles on the tires and they have always been at the correct pressure. The date stamps are February 2016 on the rear tires. After speaking to them, they want me to purchase two new tires and they will send the old tires off to the manufacturer for inspection. This is under the BTMA guidelines apparently. They say if the tires are found to be faulty I will get a refund. Surely the tires have proven themselves as not fit for purpose and I should be entitled to a replacement."
Not necessarily "not of satisfactory quality" because the cracks may merely be superficial. Puts you in a dilemma. What I'd do is get a second and maybe a third opinion from other tyre specialists before making a decision.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a BMW Z4 (2003 – 2009) cost?