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BMW Z4 (2009-2018) Buying Guide

BMW Z4 (2009-2018)
BMW Z4 (2009-2018)BMW Z4 (2009-2018)BMW Z4 (2009-2018)BMW Z4 (2009-2018)BMW Z4 (2009-2018)BMW Z4 (2009-2018)BMW Z4 (2009-2018)BMW Z4 (2009-2018)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

For years BMW sold its products using the slogan 'The ultimate driving machine', and with a reputation for building brilliant driver's cars you'd think the company would have a back catalogue of two-seater sportscars. But apart from the very rare and expensive 507 of the 1950s, BMW shunned two-seaters until the arrival of the Z3 in 1996. With this car BMW finally tap into the affordable sportster market and while the Z3 wasn't a bad start, the original Z4 was much better. Unsurprisingly the Z4 Mk2 was even better thanks to its sleeker design, coupe-cabrio format and improved dynamics. However, while the Z4 is a brilliant car for the enthusiast driver, it's also perfect for anyone who just wants a great-looking sportscar that's fast, fun and usable. Even better, despite the enjoyment on offer the Z4 can be used every day if you don't need lots of carrying capacity.

We LikeWe Don't Like
Driving experience
Build quality
Efficient engines
Sleek design
Luxurious cabin
Year-round usability
Hard-top security
Limited practicality
No diesel option
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Key Dates 
8/09The second-generation Z4 reaches UK showrooms in 204bhp sDrive23i, 258bhp sDrive30i or 306bhp sDrive35i forms, all with six cylinders.
3/10The super-quick 340bhp twin-turbo 3.0-litre sDrive35is debuts, the extra power coming from changes to the turbocharging arrangement.
3/12The sDrive23i and sDrive30i are superseded by the 184bhp sDrive20i and 245bhp sDrive28i respectively, both powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine; the 35i continued as before.
4/13A facelifted Z4 reaches showrooms, with redesigned headlamps, extra equipment, new colours and a fresh entry-level model, the 156bhp sDrive18i, which has a detuned 2.0-litre turbo engine.
  • The 19-inch alloys can suffer from cracking; dealers have had to replace many sets under warranty.
  • The side windows should drop when the roof goes up or down, but sometimes they work only intermittently.
  • The four-cylinder engines are worth seeking out as they don't skimp on performance yet they're more economical than their six-cylinder predecessors.
  • The roof is generally reliable, but hydraulic fluid leaks aren't unknown, leading to stained interior trim and the roof stuck up or down.
  • The interior isn't always as squeak and rattle-free as you might expect. Gloveboxes and cubby hole lids are the most rattle-prone.
  • Condensation isn't unusual in the rear light clusters; some Z4s have had to have new clusters fitted because of sealing problems.
  • Faulty injectors can lead to the engine cutting out or running unevenly. It's most likely on cars that have covered a high mileage.
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