BMW Z4 (2009 – 2016) Review

BMW Z4 (2009 – 2016) At A Glance


+Stylish and refined roadster coupe with folding hard top. Strong performance from six-cylinder engines. Much improved steering feel came as part of 2013 revamp.

-Top sDrive 35i 340PS engine is expensive.

Insurance Groups are between 33–43
On average it achieves 87% of the official MPG figure

BMW’s second generation Z4 is a very different beast from the original. Where the first Z4 was very much a gruff, up and at ’em sports car, the current car is a more refined sportscar with a broader customer appeal.

Much of the wider appeal comes from the folding metal roof, which follows the trend set by the Mercedes SLK. While some might feel the Z4 has gone soft and grown heavy with this approach, it undoubtedly means the Z4 is an easier car to live with day in, day out.

The metal roof makes the Z4 quieter at motorway speeds, so it is better suited to long distance journeys in the UK where the weather will not always play ball. When the sun does poke out, the metal roof drops more quickly than the Mercedes SLK’s and scissors away under the boot panel to leave uncluttered lines with the characteristic long bonnet, short boot looks of the previous Z4.

A downside is the roof and its mechanism take up more space than a fabric hood, so the Z4 has to make do with a 180-litre boot. This means squashy bags are the order of the day for any sort of weekend away and access is not brilliant when the roof is lowered.

Still, the Z4’s cabin provides even taller drivers with plenty of space and seat adjustment, while the dash is one of the least fussy and stylish in this sector. As well as the excellent driving position, cars with satellite navigation also benefit from BMW’s superb iDrive system that is also one of the easiest infotainment set-ups to operate.

Just as good to use as the infotainment is the entertainment under the bonnet as all of the Z4’s engines are great to use. This includes the twin-turbo 2.0-litre petrol in the sDrive18i and 20i models.

For those wanting more speed and growl, the sDrive28i takes the four-cylinder turbo engine to its maximum with 245PS or you can opt for the six-cylinder 35i with its potent 306PS. For those looking for the most performance from the Z4, the sDrive35is ups the ante to 340PS for 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds to be the spiritual successor the previous Z4M.

BMW Z4 sDrive 23i manual and 35i DCT auto Road Test

Real MPG average for a BMW Z4 (2009 – 2016)


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

20–42 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

Which sports car with a folding or detachable hard top would you recommend?
"I have a budget of £10,000. Which sports car, with a folding or detachable hard top would you recommend? A soft top is not an option as I have nowhere to garage the vehicle."
I'd be looking for a BMW Z4. It has a folding electric metal roof which is easy to operate and it's a very easy car to live with day-to-day. Your budget will get you a 2011 model with the 2.5-litre engine.
Answered by Andrew Brady
What's the best, fun two-seater convertible or coupe?
"I have up to £7000 for a fun two-seater - ideally a convertible but a coupe would be fine. It will be used for a daily seven mile commute and at weekends. It needs to be reliable, handle well, be quick and fun. I also don't really want the worry of some known inherent problem which would involve significant expenditure. I was thinking of the Mazda MX-5 2.0 or MR2 (storage isn't a priority), but also noticed the Nissan 350Z, BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster. What would you suggest or can you think of something else?"
You'll find the greatest choice among MX-5, but they need to be the 2.0 Sport 6-speed model and you need to be sure you can fit inside comfortably. Also be aware there is very little cabin space for bits and pieces. A 350Z is brilliant, especially the 300PS roadster of around 2006, but they gobble fuel, and clutches. A Boxster could mean scarily big bills. Z4 don't steer very well. MR2 are great fun and good late ones are now appreciating but, like the MX-5, not a lot of room inside and hardly any luggage space. Check out the entries in
Answered by Honest John
What steel-roof convertible would you recommend with reasonable running costs?
"I'm looking at buying a convertible under £25,000 that is comfortable on the motorway, fun to drive with reasonable running costs and ideally a steel folding roof to cut down on motorway noise. I think the choice is between a Mercedes-Benz SLK or BMW Z4. Is there anything else to consider? What is your recommendation?"
They are the only 2 seaters with electric folding hard tops. Z4 tested here (a while ago): Carbycar entry and updates here: Confusingly Mercedes-Benz changed the name of the SLK to SLC and a diesel version of that is tested here: I simply can't imagine driving a diesel sportscar so for me it would have to be petrol and probably the BMW. The other contender is Mazda's new MX-5 RF:
Answered by Honest John
Have we done something wrong when transferring a personal plate onto another car?
"My wife had, until recently, a personal plate on her BMW Z4 but sold the plate and transferred another personal plate (which she had on retention) to the BMW. It was last used on an Audi TT she owned at least 7 years ago. When using your car valuation tool it says the plate she sold is a Range Rover Sport, which I assume is the vehicle the person who bought the plate has put it on. So we put in her number she had on retention and that comes up as the Audi TT. Have we done something wrong when we transferred the plate onto the BMW?"
As long as you followed the correct DVLA procedure (which you have done before) you have probably done the right thing. But the system cannot be expected to catch up with every switch of a cherished reg. That's simply expecting too much. If you want a valuation, best to key in the specific details of your car. Very soon, that will also allow you to key in a mileage and get a more specific valuation.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a BMW Z4 (2009 – 2016) cost?