BMW Z4 sDrive18i review - price, specs and 0-60 time

The BMW Z4 sDrive18i is the German company's entry-level roadster. A posh convertible or a fun sports car?

Evo rating
Price
from £27,610
  • A pleasant way to soak up the rays
  • Not the sharpest roadster on sale

What is it?

The BMW Z4 sDrive18i, aka the entry point into BMW roadster ownership. Prices start at £27,610.

Engine, performance and 0-60 time

Sat beneath this base Z4’s bonnet is a 2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, its 154bhp peak horsepower plonking it 29bhp south of the previous entry-level Z4, though its 199lb ft torque figure is identical. Performance comprises a relatively modest 7.9sec 0-62 time and a 137mph top speed. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, an eight-speed automatic transmission a £1850 option.

Subscribe to evo magazine

If you're passionate about the world's greatest performance cars, experience the thrill of driving with evo magazine. Try your first 5 issues for £5.

Standard equipment includes a DAB digital radio, Bluetooth and Drive Dynamic Control, which allows the steering and stability control (and ride comfort depending on if you’ve specced Adaptive M Sport suspension) to be toggled between Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes, while the Z4’s folding hard-top opens or closes in 20 seconds, and can be operated while on the move.

What’s it like to drive?

The good stuff first. The steering, despite its lack of grip level communication, is very well weighted, while the manual gearchange is hugely satisfying to use. Your key touch points with the car are positive to use and instil confidence.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

The problem comes when you want to drive this Z4 quickly. First up, it’s not very fast. That’s not a huge issue given its entry-level status, but the engine feels tame and is missing the discernable boost that usually results from turbocharging. It’s brisk enough once you’re up and running, but the rapid acceleration you might crave out of corners or to execute overtakes is missing.

Secondly, it doesn’t really feel like a sports car. If the Z4 sDrive35i struggles to mask its 1.5-ton kerbweight, then this marginally lighter but significantly less powerful 18i was always going to lack agility. Overall, it feels front- rather than rear-wheel drive, and with the back axle unwilling to play a part in cornering, it lacks the adjustability traditional sports car buyers will crave.

Instead, this is a well-turned out convertible – punchily proportioned, nicely trimmed and comfortably riding, it’s a pleasant car to enjoy the sun in rather than one to hike up your pulse.

Rivals

The Z4’s most natural rival is from its German homeland, the Mercedes SLK offering a similar premium feel and comfort-oriented driving experience as well as a folding hard-top. A 181bhp SLK200 starts at £30,345 and boasts identical economy figures, though sits eight insurance groups higher. If it’s sports car fun you’re hunting, the £21,595, 158bhp Mazda MX-5 2.0i Sport Tech remains top dog, though the Toyota GT86 Convertible looks set to provide a compelling alternative (and a pair of rear seats) from 2014.

Anything else I need to know?

This Z4’s economy figures – 41.5mpg and 159g/km of CO2 emissions – are actually identical to the Z4 in 181bhp Z4 sDrive20i and 242bhp sDrive28i form; the 18i’s appeal is a lower insurance group (33) and its price, which is £2k cheaper than the 20i, and around £6500 less than the 28i.

Price and release date

The BMW Z4 sDrive18i is available now from £27,610.

Specifications

EngineIn-line 4-cyl, 1997cc, turbocharged
Max power154bhp @ 5000rpm
Max torque199lb ft
0-607.9sec (claimed 0-62)
Top speed137mph (claimed)
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/bmw/z4
In-depth reviews

BMW Z4 review: sports car, luxury cruiser or mini-GT?

30 Jul 2019
Visit/toyota/yaris/201932/toyota-yaris-gr-4-hot-hatchback-teased-successor-to-the-grmn-and-a-true-wrc
Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris GR-4 hot hatchback teased – successor to the GRMN and a true WRC homologation special

6 Nov 2019
Visit/audi/r8/201931/entry-level-audi-r8-v10-rwd-added-to-the-range
Audi R8

Entry-level Audi R8 V10 RWD added to the range

6 Nov 2019
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/alfa-romeo/21322/alfa-romeo-to-launch-new-700bhp-8c-and-600bhp-gtv-coupe
Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo culls sports car programme in wake of FCA merger

Italian’s future performance models killed off in favour of more profitable SUVs
11 Nov 2019
Visit/caterham/201924/caterham-620r-v-ariel-atom-35-v-elemental-rp1
Caterham

Caterham 620R v Ariel Atom 3.5 v Elemental Rp1

Flight Club - lightweight track day toys with heavyweight powertrains, Steve Sutcliffe compares them on track at Anglesey circuit in Wales
5 Nov 2019
Visit/toyota/yaris/201932/toyota-yaris-gr-4-hot-hatchback-teased-successor-to-the-grmn-and-a-true-wrc
Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris GR-4 hot hatchback teased – successor to the GRMN and a true WRC homologation special

Gazoo Racing to follow up its 2019 WRC championship with an all-new car based on the GR-4 hot hatch
6 Nov 2019
Visit/hyundai/i30-n-hatchback/201775/hyundai-i30-n-versus-hyundai-i30-tcr
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 N versus Hyundai i30 TCR

Can Dickie Meaden beat Steve Sutcliffe in a straight(ish) race? We sent them to the Circuit Nuvolari with a pair of Hyundai i30 Ns to find out.
20 Sep 2019