BMW Z4 M40i G29 Roadster side profile

6 Best BMW Z4 Models (+ Most Reliable & Years to Avoid!)

Are you here because you’re dreaming about cruising in a BMW Z4?

Let me tell you; there’s something special about BMW.

It’s a brand that shouts luxury and high performance. And the Z4 is not just any car; it’s a roadster, which means it’s designed for sheer driving pleasure!

But wait a second! Before you rush out to get one, doing some homework is super important.

Buying a car, especially a luxury one like the Z4, is a big decision.

We need to talk about which models are your best choice and – just as crucial – which ones might be best to avoid. And, of course, we can’t forget about reliability.

Ready? Let’s start!

History of the BMW Z4

The BMW Z4 has had quite an exciting journey.

Before we dive into the best Z4 models, let’s take a moment to appreciate how this beauty evolved over time.

The first generation (E85/E86; 2003-2008)

BMW Z4 Coupe E86

Imagine the year is 2002. The world just welcomed the Euro currency, and everybody is jamming to Eminem’s “Without Me.”

Then, the was first introduced BMW Z4, and it was love at first sight for many!

The first generation is known as the E85 in roadster form and E86 for the coupe version. They both sported a fresh, modern design with those classic long hoods!

The second generation (E89; 2009-2016)

BMW Z4 E89 Estoril Blue

Fast forward to 2009, and we’re greeted by the second generation, called the E89.

Guess what? The Z4 grew up. This time, BMW merged the roadster and coupe by introducing a retractable hardtop.

The E89 Z4 got even more powerful engines, and the interior became more luxurious.

The third generation (G29; 2018-present)

BMW Z4 Roadster G29

Now, we go to 2019. After a little break, the Z4 returned with its third generation, the G29.

The G29 results from a collaboration between BMW and Toyota (cue the Supra!).

Yes, the G29 BMW Z4 is so reliable that even Toyota sources its part for their Supra model.

The design is sleeker, the engines are turbocharged for that extra oomph, and the technology is cutting-edge!

Top 6 BMW Z4 models

With an overview of BMW Z4 models in hand, let’s check out some of the best BMW Z4s to put in your garage!

1. 2006 BMW Z4 M Roadster

2006 BMW Z4 M Coupe blue

The 2006 BMW Z4 M Roadster is one of those cars that makes your heart race a little faster.

Here’s why it’s so special:

  1. Engine: Under the hood, you’ve got a 3.2-liter inline-six engine. This is the same engine that powered the legendary BMW M3!
  2. Horsepower & Torque: This baby packs a punch with 330 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque.
  3. Transmission: The M Roadster features a 6-speed manual transmission. Yes, you heard that right – a manual!
  4. Suspension: It comes with a sports-tuned suspension. This means that not only is it fast, but it also handles like a dream around corners.
  5. Exterior Design: The Z4 M Roadster has a muscular and aggressive look with its long hood, flared wheel arches, and dual exhaust.
  6. Interior Amenities: Inside, you’ll find sports seats, a leather-wrapped M steering wheel, and an array of high-quality materials.

The 2006 BMW Z4 M Roadster was, and still is, a beast on the road. Its performance stats are impressive:

  • 0 to 60 mph: It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just under 5 seconds.
  • Handling: With its sports-tuned suspension and near-perfect weight distribution, this car handles like it’s on rails.

2. 2013 BMW Z4 sDrive35is

2013 BMW Z4 sDrive35is Roadster black

Next on our list is the stunning 2013 BMW Z4 sDrive35is.

Let’s check what makes this one a showstopper:

  1. Engine: It’s powered by a 3.0-liter inline-six twin-turbocharged engine. It’s like having a mini jet engine ready to propel you forward.
  2. Horsepower & Torque: The Z4 sDrive35is delivers 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. That’s some serious muscle!
  3. Transmission: This model features a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Smooth as silk and quick as a flash.
  4. Exterior Design: The 2013 Z4 sDrive35is has a sleek and aerodynamic design with adaptive xenon headlights and sporty 18-inch alloy wheels.
  5. Interior Amenities: Inside, you’re greeted by leather sports seats, automatic climate control, and the iDrive infotainment system with navigation.
  6. M Sport Package: It comes with the M Sport package, which means sportier suspension, a snazzy aerodynamic body kit, and an even cooler interior.

So, how does it perform?

  • 0 to 60 mph: It can rocket from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds. Yeah, it’s that fast.
  • Handling: With its adaptive M suspension, it’s nimble and responsive. It almost feels like the car knows what you’re thinking.

3. 2008 BMW Z4 3.0si Coupe

2008 BMW Z4 3.0si Coupe

Let’s turn back the clock a little to 2008 and talk about the BMW Z4 3.0si Coupe:

  1. Engine: It has a 3.0-liter inline-six engine. This one’s naturally aspirated, so it gives a smooth, linear power delivery.
  2. Horsepower & Torque: The engine churns out 255 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque. Not as wild as the others, but still plenty to get your heart racing!
  3. Transmission: You can choose between a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. Options are always nice, right?
  4. Exterior Design: The coupe design makes it stand out with its smooth curves, fixed roof, and signature long hood.
  5. Interior Amenities: The cabin features leather seats, automatic climate control, and a 10-speaker audio system. Pretty good for 2008!

Here’s what it does in terms of performance:

  • 0 to 60 mph: The 2008 Z4 3.0si Coupe can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in about 5.6 seconds.
  • Handling: With its sport suspension and balanced chassis, it handles like a dream, making it perfect for those twisty roads.

4. 2016 BMW Z4 sDrive 28i

2016 BMW Z4 sDrive28i

Fast forward to 2016, and let’s discuss the BMW Z4 sDrive28i:

  1. Engine: It’s equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine. Don’t be fooled by its size; it’s quite strong!
  2. Horsepower & Torque: This engine churns out a respectable 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.
  3. Transmission: Buyers have the option of a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic transmission.
  4. Exterior Design: It maintains the classic Z4 sleek design with a retractable hardtop, which means you can enjoy it as a coupe or roadster.
  5. Interior Amenities: The interior is a pleasant place to be with leatherette upholstery, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, and a modern infotainment system.

Regarding performance, here is how it does:

  • 0 to 60 mph: The Z4 sDrive28i takes about 5.5 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph.
  • Handling: With nearly perfect weight distribution, this Z4 model handles corners with grace and precision.

5. 2020 BMW Z4 M40i

2020 BMW Z4 M40i

Now let’s jump to 2020 and meet the BMW Z4 M40i:

  1. Engine: We’re talking about a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine. It’s a powerhouse!
  2. Horsepower & Torque: This engine produces 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque.
  3. Transmission: It comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s slick and lightning-fast.
  4. Exterior Design: The design is modern and aggressive, with large air intakes, sharp lines, and a fabric soft top.
  5. Interior Amenities: The cabin is plush with leather upholstery, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, and a Harman Kardon sound system.

Here are the performance numbers:

  • 0 to 60 mph: The Z4 M40i rockets from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. That’s supercar territory!
  • Handling: With adaptive M suspension, it handles like a dream, making it an absolute joy to drive.

6. 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive 30i

2019 BMW Z4 sDrive 30i

Next is the 2019 BMW Z4 sDrive30i:

  1. Engine: This model is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine.
  2. Horsepower & Torque: It delivers a solid 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque.
  3. Transmission: It’s equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
  4. Exterior Design: The Z4 sDrive30i features a stylish soft top, LED headlights, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
  5. Interior Amenities: Inside, there’s leatherette upholstery, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

In terms of performance:

  • 0 to 60 mph: It can hit 60 mph from a standstill in about 5.2 seconds.
  • Handling: With its well-balanced chassis, it offers sporty and confident handling.

Most reliable BMW Z4 models and years to avoid

If reliability is your main concern, you might want to set your sights on the E89 generation of the BMW Z4, which began in 2009.

Consumer reports and data indicate that this generation is pretty dependable.

Specifically, it has received significantly fewer complaints compared to some earlier models. This might be because BMW ironed out a lot of the kinks from the previous generation!

Related article: A 2024 Study On BMW’s Reliability: Are They Good Cars?

Common BMW Z4 issues

While the BMW Z4 is a great car, it’s important to know that some models have had their share of issues.

For example, the M54 engine found in earlier models (up until 2006) may suffer from a misfiring issue usually caused by a faulty DISA valve.

On the N52 engine (which superseded the M54 in 2006), there have been reports of hydraulic cam lifters losing oil, leading to an unpleasant noise on cold starts.

Moreover, you should check the condition of the soft top if you are looking at a convertible model, as the motors can fail or might need to be relocated.

You should watch out for seat wear on the interior front, especially on the driver’s side. Damp carpets are another red flag as they can spell trouble for the electrical systems.

In terms of driving dynamics, if the drive is not as tight as it should be, it might be due to suspension issues like snapped rear springs or worn-out bushes.

BMW Z4 years to avoid

When shopping for a used BMW Z4, avoid the years 2003, 2005, and 2007. These models received 13, 5, and 3 complaints, respectively.

While it’s not just the number of complaints that’s alarming, it’s also the nature of the issues. Many of them are expensive to fix.

In the case of the Z4M’s S54 engine, valve clearances need to be checked periodically and can be costly. Also, conrod bearings and bolts have been known to fail, leading to a very expensive repair if the engine is damaged!

Specifically, for models with the N52 engine, check for any replacement of the cylinder head and lifters, as this might indicate a more reliable unit.

The service history is essential. A well-maintained Z4, even with higher mileage, could be a better buy than a low-mileage Z4 that hasn’t seen regular maintenance!

Which BMW Z4 engine is best?

The BMW Z4 has had various engine options throughout its production years.

Initially, it offered straight-six engines such as the M54 and its successor, the N52, known for their silky smooth power delivery.

In later years, BMW introduced turbocharged four-cylinder engines and more powerful inline-six engines with turbochargers, such as the N54, N55, and B58.

The high-performance Z4 M models came with the S54 engine, regarded as one of the best engines that BMW has ever produced.

BMW inline-six turbo engine

Overview of BMW Z4 engines

Here is an overview of all engines that came with the BMW Z4!

  1. M54: This straight-six engine is known for its durability and smoothness. However, in terms of fuel efficiency, it’s not the best compared to the newer turbocharged engines. Its performance is adequate for relaxed driving.
  2. N52: This engine is similar to the M54 but offers slightly better performance and fuel efficiency due to the use of lighter materials and more advanced technology.
  3. N54/N55: These are turbocharged inline-six engines that offer a significant performance boost over the M54 and N52. The N54 is known for its tunability, whereas the N55 is considered more reliable.
  4. B58: This is the latest inline-six turbocharged engine, and it offers excellent performance with relatively good fuel efficiency. It is regarded as one of the best engines in BMW’s lineup in terms of performance, smoothness, and efficiency.
  5. S54 (Z4 M): This high-performance engine offers incredible performance but at the expense of fuel efficiency. It requires more maintenance but is loved by enthusiasts for its high-revving nature and incredible sound.
  6. Four-cylinder engines: The newer Z4 models also have turbocharged four-cylinder engines. They are more fuel-efficient than the six-cylinder options but don’t offer the same level of performance or smoothness.

Which BMW Z4 engine is best for you?

Below, you can find our recommendation for which BMW Z4 engine will fit you best:

  1. For Performance-Oriented Buyers: If performance is your main criterion, the S54 in the Z4 M is an excellent choice. However, for those looking to balance performance and reliability, the B58 found in newer Z4 models like the M40i is a fantastic option.
  2. For Daily Driving and Efficiency: If you’re looking for an engine for daily driving with good fuel efficiency, turbocharged four-cylinder engines are an excellent choice. They offer enough power for most driving situations and are economical.
  3. For Enthusiasts: If you are an enthusiast who loves a smooth, high-revving engine and doesn’t mind the extra maintenance, the S54 in the Z4 M is hard to beat. Another option for enthusiasts could be the N54, known for its tunability.
  4. For a Balanced Approach: If you want good performance but also care about reliability and efficiency, the N55 or B58 inline-six engines offer a good balance between performance and everyday usability.

FAQs about the BMW Z4

If you have any more questions about the BMW Z4, take a look at these FAQs:

Are old BMW Z4s reliable?

Old BMW Z4s can be a bit of a mixed bag regarding reliability. While they are admired, some of the older models are known to have a few issues. For instance, models from the early 2000s have been reported to have problems with their electrical systems and engines.

Is a BMW Z4 good for daily use?

A BMW Z4 can be great for daily use but with a few caveats. It’s a sporty roadster, so it offers a fun and engaging driving experience. However, remember that it’s not the most practical choice if you need a lot of cargo space or often have more than one passenger.

Are BMW Z4 going up in value?

The value of a BMW Z4 can depend on various factors such as model, condition, rarity, and market demand. Some specific models, like the Z4 M Roadster and the Z4 Coupe, have seen their values stabilize and, in some cases, even increase due to their desirability.

Is a BMW Z4 a good first car?

The BMW Z4 as a first car can be an exciting choice, but it might not be the most practical one. Its sporty nature and powerful engines make it a blast to drive, but it might be a bit too much to handle for inexperienced drivers. Additionally, a luxury sports car’s maintenance and insurance costs can be high for a first-time car owner.


With its swooping lines, luxurious interiors, and silky engines, the Z4 is undoubtedly an exciting package.

But as with all things, knowing what you’re diving into is crucial.

Through this article, we explored the history of the Z4, delved into the best models to consider, addressed reliability concerns, and examined the various engines to help you make an informed decision.

Whether you’re a spirited enthusiast or a weekend cruiser, there’s a Z4 that’s just right for you. Happy driving!

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