What is it?
The BMW Z4 sDrive20i, the new entry point into BM roadster ownership. It also brings Z4 prices below the £30,000 mark, setting you back £29,480 before you start piling on the options.
Engine and performance
It’s all about downsizing. The previously all six-cylinder Z4 range gains a new turbocharged four-pot 2.0-litre engine.
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In this 181bhp sDrive20i tune it replaces the 201bhp, naturally aspirated 2.5-litre 23i while a 245bhp sDrive28i version replaces the 251bhp, 3.0-litre 30i.
While 20bhp down on the 23i, this new entry-level car is 15lb ft healthier (199lb ft) and a whopping 42g/km of CO2 cleaner (159g/km) – that downgrades it four tax bands, saving you nearly £100 a year. Fuel economy rises from 33.2 to 41.5mpg.
What’s it like to drive?
If you plan on stepping into one from a straight-six Z4, then you’ll immediately miss the noise and naturally aspirated power delivery. But this turbo 2.0-litre is not without merit, and makes a rorty (if synthesized) noise towards the top of its rev-range.
Shame, then, that all of its power is delivered by an almost diesel-like 4800rpm and its 199lb ft maximum from a mere 1250rpm. Therefore getting the best from the engine and gathering most pace is via shuffling through the well-weighted shifts of its six-speed gearbox (an eight-speed automatic joins the options list).
That’s not exactly the most enthusiastic way to drive a car like this, but it matches the Z4’s other dynamic facets well: while all of its key controls are positive and feelsome, they aren’t attached to the most playful of chassis, the end result being a driving experience closer to that of a Mercedes SLK than a Porsche Boxster. It’s still good fun, but it’s no hardcore drivers’ car.
The main rivals are the Audi TT 2.0 TFSI Roadster (£29,120, 208bhp, 156g/km, 42.2mpg), Mercedes SLK 200 (£30,480, 181bhp, 158g/km, 41.5mpg) and Porsche Boxster 2.9 (£36,572, 251bhp, 221g/km, 30mpg). The Boxster remains the drivers’ choice, but the BMW offers up the best balance of style, fun and efficiency.
Anything else I need to know?
The sDrive28i might have more power and torque, but its CO2 and mpg figures are identical to the 20i, so if you can stomach a £4165 higher asking price, you’ll gain a considerable wedge of extra performance.
And while the 20i is £945 cheaper than the 23i it replaces, its kit-count is stronger: leather seats, Bluetooth and a USB connection are among the newly standard equipment.
Price and release date
The BMW Z4 sDrivei20 is available now from £29,480.
|Engine||In-line 4cyl, 1997cc, turbocharged|
|Max power||181bhp @ 4800rpm|
|Max torque||199lb ft @ 1250rpm|
|0-60||6.9sec (claimed 0-62)|