2020 BMW Z4: 7 Things We Like and 4 Things We Don’tPosted on: June 26, 2020, by : Rakesh Sashmal
The 2020 BMW Z4 represents a reunion few people, ourselves included, ever expected to happen. When the previous model faded away with the 2016 model year, not many tears were shed. The outgoing Z4 was relatively fun to drive and offered open-air excitement, but it didn’t have the ultimate thrill found in rivals like the Porsche Boxster or Chevrolet Corvette. Even the dramatically less-expensive Mazda MX-5 Miata could make a strong case for itself, given its lower price, sublime handling and fun-to-drive nature.
BMW teamed with Toyota to engineer what you could call the Z4 2.0 — simultaneously rekindling the Japanese automaker’s beloved Supra sports car. The latest Z4 is now more powerful, more exciting, more luxurious and, yes, more expensive, too. Other than cross-town rivals from Germany, such as Porsche and Audi, the Z4’s biggest challenger could be its mechanical (but coupe-format-only) twin, the Supra.
You can find our complete review of the Z4 in both sDrive30i and M40i trim by following the related link above — and you can check out our comprehensive Supra review by following this link. However, for a quick rundown of this German roadster’s high and low points, keep reading.
Here are seven things we like (and four we’re not Supra-fond of) about the 2020 BMW Z4:
Things We Like
1. A Welcome Return
Let’s be clear: Chances were slim-to-none that the Z4 would return in the first place. The previous generation lacked the sharper driving dynamics found in rivals from Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar. Die-hard BMW purists will lament the cost-saving move to develop the new Z4 in tandem with Toyota, but we’re thrilled to see a car company refuse to give up on producing a two-passenger sports car. All evidence to the contrary, not everyone dreams of owning an SUV.
2. Powerful Turbo Four
The Z4 sDrive30i comes powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 255 horsepower and 295 pounds-feet of torque to the rear wheels. This engine is great in other BMWs we’ve driven, and it’s awesome in this lithe roadster.
3. Outrageous Turbo Six
As nice as the base engine is, the Z4 M40i comes motivated by a ferocious turbocharged six-cylinder with 382 hp and 369 pounds-feet of torque. This motor snarls and the exhaust crackles — in other words, it’s looney and we love it! Punch the gas pedal and the Z4 M40i needs only 3.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph.
4. Track Handling Package
Get. This. Option. We can’ be any clearer: The Track Handling Package is a must-have feature on the Z4. Optional on the sDrive30i and standard equipment on the M40i, this package includes M Sport brakes, adaptive suspension and an M Sport differential. It’s that last feature that really makes its presence known as the Z4 puts its power to the pavement and rockets around corners.
5. Elegant Interior
Lots of people want to know how the Z4 stacks up against the Toyota Supra. If the deciding factor is cabin comfort and interior design, the win goes to the BMW. Where the Supra’s cabin is snug and outward visibility to the front and rear is scarce, the Z4 is airier and less hyper-focused on being a no-compromises sports car. The infotainment system does have a learning curve, but it gets better with practice.
6. BMW Backtracks on Apple CarPlay Charge
Thank you BMW for coming to your infotainment-screen senses. Someone somewhere realized how stingy the automaker was being with its plans to charge for Apple CarPlay availability after the first year of ownership was done and dusted. That’s now gone, and the Z4 has the Apple smartphone compatibility system, free of any impending subscription. This holds true for all 2019- and 2020-model-year BMWs.
7. Gas Mileage Is Better Than You Think
While gasoline is cheap right now, it’s nice to know the Z4 isn’t a fuel-swilling beast. The EPA estimates the Z4 sDrive30i returns 24/32/27 mpg city/highway/combined. Despite having two extra cylinders and loads more power, the Z4 M40i posts a nearly identical 24/31/26 mpg average.
Things We Don’t
1. Something’s Missing at Entry Level
That something would be the Track Handling Package. We drove three variants of the Z4, and the lack of this option on the base model is apparent. Without it, the Z4 lacks the edge provided by those M Sport performance goodies. While the $2,450 price for this package isn’t cheap, we think it’s worth it.
2. Supra Is Lots Cheaper, a Little More Fun
The Toyota … really? Yes, the Supra shares its chassis, turbocharged six-cylinder and eight-speed automatic transmission with the Z4 M40i. In terms of pure sportiness, the Supra wins. Because it’s a hardtop coupe, the Toyota is lighter and stiffer than its BMW cousin. Let’s not forget that the Supra also costs approximately $14,000 less than Z4 M40i.
3. Skimpy on Standard Safety
Why do many budget-friendly economy cars come with vastly more standard safety features than a $51,000 BMW sports car? The Z4 is fitted with automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, a rearview camera and pedestrian detection. Lots more active safety features are available, but for an added cost.
4. Still No Love for Android Peeps
BMW gave an inch with Apple CarPlay, but Android Auto users remain out of luck. Nary a BMW vehicle offers Android Auto compatibility, including the new Z4.