In the spirit of long-nose, short-trunk roadsters from the 1960s, the 2012 BMW Z4 carries on as BMW's open-air alternative to the crop of roadsters on sale in the U.S. Unlike others in its class, the BMW Z4 abandons the soft-top look for a full-metal retractable hard top that retracts into the trunk.
For the 2012 BMW Z4, the non-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 gets phased out in favor of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Called the Z4 sDrive28i, the new engine has less physical size displacement and makes 15 less horsepower than the old engine with a total of 240 ponies. But it makes its power lower in the rev range, allowing for it to move the 3300-pound vehicle more quickly.
Arguably the best-looking BMW made today, the open-air 2012 BMW Z4 roadster comes in at a price much more expensive than its predecessor. Then again, it's a better-appointed vehicle than the outgoing car, and a better car overall.
Engines: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6
Transmissions: six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic, seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual
Models: sDrive28i, sDrive35i, sDrive35is
For the 2012 BMW Z4, BMW is introducing a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to replace its 3.0-liter inline-6 in the name of greater fuel economy and fewer emissions. The new engine provides 240 horsepower, and will come with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. EPA-certified fuel economy numbers are not yet available, but the new engine should provide more than 30 mpg in highway driving.
With a raked windshield, a long nose, and short trunk, the 2012 BMW Z4's proportions are retro, but the details are not. The Z4 keeps pace with the rest of BMW's lineup with a fresh, curvy exterior accented by subtle surface creases. LED running lights come housed in the Z4's wide headlights. On the sides, BMW badges sit at the edges of vents on each fender that work hot air from the engine to cool it more quickly.
A variety of leather and trim choices adorn the 2012 BMW Z4's interior. Customers can choose between wood, aluminum and piano black trim. There are also close to a dozen interior colors from which to choose. The M Sport is available to spruce up the interior with a fatter, leather-wrapped steering wheel and carbon-colored aluminum trim in the interior and door sills. BMW's anthracite Alcantara headliner also comes equipped with that package.
Performance & Handling
The 2012 BMW Z4 sDrive35is, the top-of-the-line 335-horsepower Z4, comes standard with the M Sport package, which gives the car a 0.4-inch lower stance and Dynamic Stability Control. The new 2012 BMW sDrive28i model has a muted exhaust note, but pulls well until it hits high revs and runs out of steam. The ride is smooth, but surprisingly athletic, even when pushed hard on a track.
The 2012 BMW Z4 comes with antilock brakes, seat-mounted side airbags, a driver and passenger side airbag head extension, driver and passenger knee airbags, an airbag occupancy sensor, traction control, and stability control as standard equipment.
EPA Fuel Economy
28i: Not yet rated
35i: 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway
35is: 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway
- Drop-dead gorgeous looks
- Refined chassis
- Engine options
- More soft cruiser than spine-crushing sports car
You Won't Like
- Tiny cargo space
- Too soft for some sports car tastes
Drives well, looks much better.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Nissan 370Z
- Audi TTS
- Porsche Boxster
- Mercedes-Benz SLK Class
- Chevrolet Corvette