2020 BMW Z4 M40i: Stylish, Sophisticated and Swift

Posted by Shane Kalicharan about 4 years ago

Open top driving on a beautiful day can be one of the greatest experiences you can legally have behind the wheel on a public road. From the dawn of the automobile to the likes of the Mazda MX-5, it’s a shared love that has existed for decades – and will continue to exist so long as cars do. BMW’s Z4 has been one of the more modern champions of this philosophy with their popular Z series of open top sports cars. From the Z3 of Goldeneye 007 fame to the beautiful and powerful Z8, the Bavarian interpretation of open top driving has been a welcomed addition to BMW’s line up. Now there’s a new Z4 on the market…but purists might be shocked to know it was co-developed by Toyota. Has the introduction of another car-maker’s influence tainted the Z4 formula? Let’s find out.


Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way – no, the Z4 is nowhere near any less of a car because of Toyota’s co-development. And vice-versa – the Supra has not suddenly lost its character because of the German intervention. While they do share some major common ground, the design philosophy between the two are seemingly different, with Toyota’s chief engineer discounting practicality and comfort for the sake of purity and performance. With the Z4, that’s not necessarily the case. Practicality is still on the lower end of the scale (which shouldn’t be a factor in a 2-seat convertible), but the car is a comfortable cruiser when you need it to be. There’s even a button on the centre console for a comfort mode! But that doesn’t mean it’s a slouch. More on that in a bit.

At first we weren’t completely sold on the looks of the new Z4. It’s much larger than its predecessor and we didn’t think it always translated well in photos. But seeing it in person is something else. The car has sleek lines and a refined look – especially with the beautiful cognac leather our tester was fitted with. The dashboard is pretty typical BMW fare – a clean black layout with the signature orange backlighting. It’s easy to use and read. But more importantly, the function to lower the roof is simple to find and operate. It takes about 10 seconds for the top to fully open and close – and while we don’t recommend you do it at motion (focus on the road!) you can still perform the task at up to 50 km/h. During development of the car, BMW’s engineers were actually able to successfully open it at over 177 km/h. But obviously a limiter has been installed in the production model! In an effort to keep weight down, BMW also decided to ditch the hard top from the previous generation. For now, the Z4 will be soft top only.

Cruising down the street in my Z4…Eazy-E (RIP) might not be in favour of changing up his lyrics to replace the 64 Impala but the Z4 is easily as much of an experience. Driving through the city, highway, side roads and suburbs with the top down is a pleasure. The wind noise featured in the cabin is remarkably little, even with the windows down. What noise there is – isn’t intrusive by any means. If anything it adds to the experience. When you pop the car into sport mode, the driving experience changes drastically. The steering and suspension feel tighter. The throttle feels more responsive. But most of all – the exhaust gets loud and crackles more than your Rice Krispies ever could. The rear-drive focused roadster feels alive in spirited driving and instills great confidence without taking away from the fun factor. And the fact that it’s open-top just makes it feel even better.


With a mix of spirited and daily driving, we observed about 10.4 L/100km on average during our week of evaluation. The M40i Z4 can get by on mid-grade (89) fuel but BMW does recommend premium to quench the thirst of its 3.0L turbocharged straight-six powerplant – good for 382 horsepower and a 0-100 km/h sprint of 4.5 seconds. That engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Sorry purists – no manual transmission on this one. The same goes for the Supra.


One of the hardest things to evaluate on the Z4 is value. Our test unit rang in at just under $85,000. BMW’s own 2-series convertible is far cheaper – and has the added benefit of a back seat. But when you compare it to competition like the Porsche Boxster or Mercedes-Benz SLC Roadster, the price starts to make more sense in terms of features, style, performance, handling and of course, driving pleasure. It’s just a riot.

Tags:
BMW, BMW Review, BMW Z4, Z4 M40i, BMW Z4 M40i, Convertible, Roadster, Sports Car, German Car, Car Review, New Car Review, Soft Top, Drop Top

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