MIAMI — There’s a running joke among auto writers that if a company holds a launch event in Florida, the car probably isn’t very nice to drive. Florida is known for many things, but good roads are not one of them. It really is a disservice to cars like the 2023 BMW Z4. This little roadster definitely deserves better.
The Z4 comes in 2023 with only minimal changes, limited to new 18- and 19-inch wheel designs and a few spiffy paint colors, my favorite being Thundernite Metallic—a fancy way of saying “purple.” The base Z4 sDrive30i now comes as standard with the M Sport package which includes a more aggressive looking fascia, new steering wheel and more plush seats. In fact, it makes the Z4 sDrive30i look a lot like its more powerful sibling the M40i, which isn’t a bad thing. I struggle to call this generation Z4 beautiful, but it’s not terrible either.
There’s no major mechanical change to speak of. Both four- and six-cylinder engine options are available, and all Z4s use rear-wheel drive. The SDrive30i has a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that makes 255 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 1,550 rpm, while the Z4 M40i gets a 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six with 382 hp at 5,800 rpm . and 369 lb-ft of torque at 1,800 rpm.
If Florida’s roads are good, that’s a straight-line launch, and the base Z4 will accelerate to 60 mph in a BMW-estimated 5.2 seconds. That’s respectable hustle for this 3,314-pound roadster, but if you need speed, the Z4 M40i will do the same thing in 3.9 seconds, along with a much louder exhaust note.
Interestingly, both Z4s continue to be offered exclusively with the eight-speed automatic transmission. I say “interesting” because, don’t forget, the Z4 and Toyota GR Supra are fraternal twins, with BMW leading the powertrain development. The 2023 Supra added a six-speed manual transmission option to the 3.0-liter engine, and it’s disappointing that the same ZF-sourced transmission optimized for one car can’t be dropped into another car (even if the same transmission is in the car). It is possible). European-market, four-cylinder Z4).
The Z4’s chassis is very sound overall, with good cornering composure and light but precise steering. This is true for both the four- and six-cylinder variants; The M40i’s biggest selling point is actually its added power. With some curvy stretches of road leading to Florida’s coast, the Z4 shows that it’s fully capable of more spirited antics than this state’s lame-o roads. My previous stints in the Z4 were much more engaging, and I remember really liking the thing. Road tripping through Florida really does sound like a waste.
That said, the Z4 is also super comfortable, making cruising the I-95 freeway that much more palatable. Obviously the point of a roadster is to enjoy it with the top down, but if you’re driving in a place as hot and humid and generally as southern Florida, you’ll be happy to know that the Z4 is very quiet inside. is when the soft top is up. On more pleasant days, it only takes 10 seconds to electronically retract the roof, and you can do it even at speeds up to 30 mph.
My test car’s decidedly drab, all-black interior can be a bit claustrophobic with the top up, so I’d probably personally spring for the lighter color. But no matter, the Z4’s cabin is very nice, with good overall fit and finish, and sport seats that are perfectly contoured provide equal amounts of comfort and support – something that’s great for extended drives. Is good.
All of the Z4’s cabin tech remains unchanged, so no, it doesn’t upgrade to the new iDrive 8 infotainment suite, which you’ll find in the 3 Series, 7 Series, iX, etc. several autoblog Editors wouldn’t consider this a bad thing because iDrive 7 still works perfectly well, while iDrive 8 has received its share of complaints. One key difference between the two is that the 10.2-inch central display can be operated either by touching the screen or with the familiar iDrive knob on the center console which has been removed for the iDrive 8. The 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster looks good too. With easy-to-read graphics that don’t wash out in the sun when you’re driving with the top down.
The Z4 has a solid list of driver-assistance technologies, too, with the good stuff locked behind a $700 Driving Assistance Package. That’s where you get full-speed adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring – the latter is something you really want when driving with the top up.
The 2023 Z4 sDrive30i is $1,300 more expensive than before, starting at $53,795 including a $995 destination charge. The Z4 M40i, meanwhile, retains its $66,295 MSRP. Load one up with every option like my test car and you’ll pay around $71,000.
Honestly, the four-cylinder 30i feels like the better buy of the two, as it doesn’t compromise on luxury or good road manners, and I have to believe that anyone looking for something super sporty would absolutely love the M40i. Will bypass and spring for a Porsche 718 Boxster. Plus, if you live in a place deprived of winding roads like Florida, an sDrive30i is all the Z4 you’ll be able to use anyway.