2020 BMW Z4 M40i
Updated: Jan 2, 2020
This week we are reviewing the 2020 BMW Z4 M40i. Our vehicle was assembled at the Magna Steyr plant in Graz, Austria, and has an approximate MSRP of $84,645 CAD.
Fun Factor: 9
Can it Family: 2
City Cruising: 7
Before picking up our test car from BMW, everyone was just talking about Toyota and BMW working on a car together and about being disappointed by its performance on paper. After driving the Z4 for a couple of miles, we understood right away that these opinions were not founded. Anyone that had the chance to drive the Z4 will tell you this car handles amazingly and accelerates like crazy. We assume BMW understated the real power and performance of the Z4 in a type of gentleman's pact. Some didn't understand why the car wasn't assembled in Germany; rather, at the Magna facility in Graz, Austria, this facility specializes in assembling luxury cars such as the BMW 5 Series', the iconic G-Wagon and some Jaguars. Some may not know that the roof for the SLC is also assembled at the same factory, giving them a long experience with convertible vehicles.
Our test vehicle was equipped with the 3.0L, inline 6-cylinder TwinScroll turbocharged engine, putting out 382hp and producing up to 369lb-ft of torque. The 8-speed automatic transmission up-shifts quickly and accurately when you expect it. Downshifts can be a little hesitant when in Sport+ as it wants to stay within that gear to deliver the best performance possible. The Sport+ mode also gives you the best exhaust note; we wished that these notes would be available in Sport mode where we found the exhaust notes a little too tame for a performance in this category. This can be tweaked in SPORT individual to have a more balanced approach. For everyday driving, the COMFORT or ECO PRO are setup perfectly fine.
Now, Z4 performances aren't too shabby either; in our real-life test to 100km/h, we reached this figure in 3.95 seconds. Yes, that's over 0.2 seconds faster than the announced number by BMW, and when it launched originally, they announced it would only achieve 0 to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. The performance of the Z4 is nothing to joke about; even the 718 GTS with the Sport Chrono package only achieves 4.1 seconds to 100km/h, and its starting price is $20 000 higher than BMW's roadster. There is only one car in that luxury segment that starts with a similar price as the Z4, and that is the Jaguar F-type. In its lineup, it has a model that can beat the performance of the Z4; however, you'll need to step up to the SVR model at a hefty price tag... Double the price, yes, double! No, we didn't forget the SLC43 AMG; even its AMG variant does not come close to achieving the 100km/h time. It will take 4.7 seconds before reaching it. Yes, not everything in life revolves around acceleration times. The Z4 isn't a one-trick pony; the handling is what you would expect from a BMW vehicle. Even without stability control, the Z4 roadster could be tamed without any difficulties. The adaptive suspension can lower the car up to 10mm, which helps to give it even a more aggressive ride. For a convertible, the stability while cornering is nearly impeccable, something we found even newer versions of the Mustang still had trouble with. The body doesn't get upset while cornering on an imperfect road.
Saying the Z4 is a family car is a long, long stretch, but what we can say is that whichever family members were able to ride in, definitely had fun! The Z4 offers seating for 2, the driver and their passenger. The seating is low, as you can expect for a sports car with a low roof-line. Even taller adults will find a comfortable seating position. The seats are well-bolstered and provided excellent support for longer rides and sportier runs. The trunk is very usable; we were able to fit a large suitcase in the trunk; it may also fit a large stroller. If you thought doing your grocery on the weekend, you would not be disappointed by the amount of space it offers.
How was the fuel consumption of the Z4? On the regular HWY test, we averaged 6.9L per 100km using the COMFORT setting, while in the city, we averaged 11.9L per 100km. At the end of our test, we did average 10.6L per 100km after testing several parameters and being most of the time in SPORT+ to have the best audio experience from the exhaust and a little bit from the speakers. We fueled the Z4 with premium fuel only and found it can be very economical to drive it as a touring car over long distances, especially with the performance it provides.
How is the BMW Z4 on the HWY? We did get the chance to test it extensively on a 500km Montreal-Quebec journey and back. We were surprised by its stable handling and low fuel consumption. On our way back with the wind behind us, we were able to dip under 6L per 100km and, as mentioned above, get an amazing average consumption of 6.9L per 100km. While maintaining fuel efficiency, it would be possible to get over 750km of range with one fuel tank. This allowed us to go back and forth without needing to refuel the Z4 on our long journey. It's especially interesting when travelling from one city to another. The Z4 is the perfect getaway car for that long weekend with your significant other, or if you feel adventurous, you can bring your toddler and see car races. Where we felt the Z4 still needed some refinement on the HWY was with its very compact retractable roof offering. Yes, the compact roof allows to save space in the trunk compared to past Z4's, or even the SLC we tested in Germany last year, which forced us to have no bigger than a medium-sized suitcase and nothing more, or else it would be impossible to tuck away the roof. It goes up & down in a breeze and that while driving up to 50km/h. What we did find slightly annoying is that the isolation and road noise coming in from the B-pillar almost felt as loud as if the roof was open. For some, this might give them a more road-focused experience and also help warn when cars pass by. When the roof is up, the rear visibility doesn't inspire confidence. You'll need to rely on the blind-spot monitoring heavily.
Our car was equipped with the optional Harman Kardon audio system, and the sound was decent; the speakers behind the driver didn't sound as warm as we've become accustomed to with other BMW products. We're not saying it's bad; it still needs tweaking before sounding as crisp as what we would expect from a car in this price segment, it may have to do with it being a new model in the line up it. The infotainment is simple to use; its system didn't yet have all the new features we've seen in the new BMW 3 series. It works quick and efficient it also offers Apple Car Play. The beauty of this system is that it will connect wirelessly to Car Play and takes away the need for cables; the wireless charging tray is large enough to fit Phablet sized phones.
On the other hand, Android Auto is still not available at this time; something many BMW users wish would be implemented. It is still possible to pair your phone using an Android device however the experience is indeed different.
Now the big question on everyone's mind and I got a lot of questions; some people were outraged that we dared install a car seat in the Z4 on our Instagram page. We did so in accordance with our local laws and even verified at our local police station that we could. The good news is the car will permit to install a front-facing child seat if needed and a regular child seat as well. In our case, I was able to take a morning drive with my son beside me and let my spouse sleep in on the weekend. Yes, it's the best way to get your spouse or significant other sold on the idea of a roadster being a very practical car. Now concerning the installation of a car seat, we found it to be easier to lower the roof before installing it, BMW also suggests raising the passenger seat to its highest position when using with a car seat. The seat offers a rear anchor latch to fix the car seat in place. If you'll be using it this way, check with your local authorities it's legal and make sure to disable the airbag.
Now for city driving, the Z4 was fantastic while driving with the top down; it gave us a great outlook all around, and people even mistook it for a Ferrari in certain instances with it's aggressive lines. With the top up, the visibility wasn't that great as the whole B pillar gives it a large blind spot. The suspension was a little firm on bumps; however, it was comfortable, and you would expect this of a car like the Z4. Parking the Z4 is also easy; the vehicle came with a rearview camera instead of a 360-degree camera. The Z4 does come with sensors all over the car, making sure that you will not damage your beautiful roadster. Fuel economy was also very respectable even if we drove it mainly in the SPORT+ setting.
Why would we buy the BMW Z4 and what we liked about it: Great handling, great fuel economy, comfortable seating position, sporty look.
Why we wouldn't buy the BMW Z4 and what we didn't like about it: Noisy interior at HWY speeds, rear speakers lack refinement, no xDrive available at this time.
BMW Canada has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle, we have no affiliation with BMW Canada, and the above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the vehicle referred to above.