1996 BMW Z3

  • 1996 BMW Z3 Base Roadster Convertible

    Base Roadster Convertible

    • MAX MPG
    • SEATS
    • ENGINE
      1.9L I4
    • MSRP
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1996 BMW Z3 Review

Fun to drive and oozes sex appeal.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 1996 BMW Z3 classifies as a sporty, two-passenger, two-door roadster and marks the first new BMW assembled entirely in the U.S. It represents one of the sexiest cars from the decade and became famous in a James Bond movie. It aims to please the driving enthusiast with superior handling and a tight 32-foot turning circle. It also uses a convertible design, adding to the fun of driving this sporty and sexy roadster.

Reviews by buyers of the BMW Z3 have been overwhelmingly positive with rear-end alignment problems marking the only drawback. Most buyers also feel disappointed with the power of the 1996 model which leads to subsequent models being equipped with more powerful engines.

The Range

Body Styles: roadster
Engines: 1.9-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Models: BMW Z3

What's New

This year marks the initial offering of the BMW Z3 to the public.


Fog lights come standard on the 1996 BMW Z3. The roadster sits low to the ground and looks wide for a car of its stature with a width of over 66 inches for added stability. It represents one of the most stylish cars of its day and it looks sleek and very aerodynamic. The back window of this sporty convertible is made of plastic, which detracts from the overall look and quality of the vehicle. As with most convertibles, water leaks can be a problem as the car ages and the insulation grows brittle, and fixing those leaks proves very expensive. Standard features include power door locks and power exterior mirrors.


The interior of the BMW Z3 features a space-age center console and cloth seating. Bucket seats come standard with cloth seating and offer leather as an option. A trip computer also remains optional. An AM/FM audio system and a tachometer come standard as does cruise control and power steering. Airbags for the driver and passenger come standard and the 1996 BMX Z3. Standard air-conditioning and a power driver's seat add to the comfort factor. Heated front seats provide an option for consumers in cold weather states. The BMW Z3 also has the unusual feature of a power front passenger seat as standard equipment.

Performance & Handling

The 1996 BMW Z3 handles as one would expect of a sports car. It takes tight corners easily with a turning radius of 32 feet. The 1.9-liter engine delivers 138 horsepower and 133 lb-ft of torque at 4300 rpm. A five-speed manual transmission comes standard with an option of a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. This makes the ideal car for a drive on curvy country roads and an exciting car to drive. The engine feels somewhat underpowered and experiences problems when climbing steep grades. The 1996 BMW Z3 requires premium unleaded fuel to run so buyers need to prepare for the extra expense. Using lesser fuel results in engine problems and costly repairs.


The 1996 BMW Z3 comes with 16-inch alloy wheels and a standard anti-lock braking system. Airbags come standard on the driver and passenger sides and traction control provides an optional feature. Standard fog lights also improve the safety of the Z3. Intermittent windshield wipers come standard along with power steering and power brakes. This roadster does not come with roll bars and this can be a safety issue if drivers do not take proper care while driving.

EPA Fuel Economy

BMW Z3: 23/31 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Sporty look and sex appeal
  • Five-speed manual transmission
  • Excellent fuel economy
  • Superb handling

You Won't Like

  • Underpowered engine
  • Lacks roll bars and causes a safety issue
  • Plastic back window
  • Room for only two passengers
  • Lacks luggage room
  • Requires premium unleaded fuel
  • Convertibles prone to leaky roofs
  • Expensive repairs

Sum Up

Fun to drive and oozes sex appeal.

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