2014 BMW Z4

The BMW Z4 is a two-seat hardtop convertible that provides a blend of luxury, style and the expected precision BMW handling dynamics. The Z4 has received a number of powertrain updates in recent years, the most recent of which is a turbocharged four-cylinder that boosts both acceleration and fuel economy compared to the old inline-six.

For the latest model year, BMW has given the Z4 a mild refresh that includes redesigned headlights, new wheel designs and additional equipment options.

Outside, many of the polarizing features of the previous model design have been toned down for the latest Z4, resulting in a more elegant look. The styling takes inspiration from the Z8's elongated profile, while the overall proportions remain true to classic long-hood, short rear-deck formula used by successful sports cars for decades.

The interior is clean and driver-focused, with a simple two-gauge instrument panel and high-quality wood and chrome trim. There's plenty of room for the driver and passenger up front, while the trunk has enough space to hold two sets of golf clubs with the hardtop raised (there's significantly less cargo volume with the roof lowered).

Disappearing in just 19 seconds, the Z4's hardtop roof promises better temperature and noise insulation than its canvas predecessor. It also boasts increased visibility and looks quite similar to a coupe when up.

Updated Powertrain Lineup
Powering the sDrive28i is BMW's new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that gives up 15 horsepower to the old six but brings 40 lb-ft more torque to the table - 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of twist, to be exact. The smaller engine is able to sit farther behind the front axle line, improving weight distribution and handling. Fuel economy increases to an impressive 22 mpg city and 34 mpg highway, and the car accelerates to 60 mpg from a standstill in the mid-five second range.

The more potent sDrive35i has a maximum output of 300 horsepower, while peak torque of 300 pound-feet is achieved throughout a broad rev range from 1,400 to 5,000 rpm. Weighing just 355 pounds, the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six owes its light weight to its composite magnesium/aluminum crankcase, cylinder head cover made of a special synthetic material and lightweight camshafts with aluminum VANOS control unit. The sDrive35i is rated at 19/26 mpg and the 17/24 with the manual and automatic gearbox options, respectively.

For those who demand maximum power, the sDrive35is brings an uprated version of the turbo six with 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, which rises to 369 lb-ft for short periods thanks to an electronically-controlled overboost function. The sDrive35is returns 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

A six-speed manual transmission comes standard on all sDrive28i andsiDrive35i. The iDrive28i has an optional eight-speed automatic, while the sDrive35i has an available seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that is fitted as standard to the sDrive35is.

Standard and Optional Features
Standard kit for the Z4 includes leatherette upholstery, dual zone automatic climate control, an AM/FM/CD stereo system with HD Radio and AUX and USB inputs, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, power-adjustable seats, bi-xenon headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The Z4 can be spec'd with a number of luxury and convenience features like a navigation system with 3D maps and an 8.8-inch screen, an ultrasonic parking assist system and a Comfort Access keyless entry system. Also available is the M Sport package, which brings a more aggressive bodykit, a thick M Sports steering wheel, well-bolstered sports seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and an adaptive M suspension.

New to the Z4 is a Hyper Orange package that combines an eye-catching orange paint job with a number of interior touches, including orange inserts in the seats and door panels, orange stitching on the dashboard and contrasting high-gloss trim on the gear lever.

Occupant Safety
The Z4 comes standard with dual front, side and knee airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a rollover protection system.

Key Competitors
Rivals to the Z4 include the fine-handling Porsche Boxster, the luxurious Mercedes-Benz SLK and the Bauhaus-inspired Audi TT.