Following on from Chris Bangle’s crisply styled, ‘Flame Surfaced’ original Z4 roadster of 2003, BMW served up the E89 second-generation model – styled inside and out by two female designers. It was the first Z4 to come with a folding hard-top roof and was designed to compete with the usual suspects.
From 2011 onwards, the BMW Z4 Mk2 was powered entirely by turbocharged petrol engines, but early sDrive23i (204hp) and sDrive30i (258hp) models had normally aspirated straight-six units; the 23i was a 2.5-litre engine and the 30i was a genuine 3.0-litre. These were replaced by the sDrive18i (2.0-litre four-cylinder, 156hp), the sDrive20i (also a 2.0-litre four but rated at 184hp), the sDrive28i (yep, another 2.0-litre four-pot, but now with 245hp) and then a 3.0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder with 306hp badged the sDrive35i. Confusingly, an sDrive35is model ran alongside the ‘plain’ 35i and functioned as the Z4 Mk2’s range-topping performance model with 340hp, 450Nm and the ability to hit 100km/h from rest from 4.8 seconds; there was no Z4 M in the second-generation of the roadster. All models were rear-wheel drive only and transmission choices were a six-speed manual or automatic on the early non-turbo versions, a six-speed manual or eight-speed auto on the turbocharged four-cylinder engines, and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox in the 35i twins, and the range as a whole received a vanishingly small aesthetic facelift in 2013.
The six-cylinder turbo models flatter to deceive, as the Z4 Mk2 was always more of a ‘touring’ roadster than a sports car. Therefore, you’re better off with one of the turbocharged four-cylinder motors, like the 20i or, best of all, the sDrive28i. This offers the performance you’d expect of a rear-driven BMW with reasonable running costs.
BMW Z4 sDrive28i
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged
Maximum speed: 250km/h (limited)
0-100km/h: 5.7 seconds
Fuel consumption: 6.8 litres/100km
• Lusty turbocharged engines
• All-year-round appeal with hard-top
• Rear-drive balance
• Handling not that sharp
• Looks a bit flabby
• 35i models not as sporty as they should be
The second-generation BMW Z4 felt like it was obviously designed for a particular market: the US. More of a cruiser than a sportster, it nevertheless still has a quality cabin, plenty of modern toys, BMW’s trademark rear-drive feel and some strong turbocharged engines. It makes an unusual alternative to the much-more-common Audi TT Roadster, at any rate.