Introduced for model year 2019 after a two-year hiatus, the third-generation Z4 shed its retractable hardtop and the curvaceous, long-hood/short-cockpit look of its predecessor. Instead, the latest Z4 has a power cloth top and prosaic styling that, unfortunately, looks as if BMW designers took their inspiration from a bar of soap.
But otherwise, the car is much improved. Longer, taller, and wider, the new Z4 provides a roomier interior for its two occupants and a trunk with more space for their overnight bags. Fit and finish are first-rate, although the cheesy, multicolored digital instrument panel is difficult to read.
As for handling, the Z4 dances through the bends like a proper sports car. There’s little of the chassis flex that often afflicts convertibles, and although the ride is on the firm side, it never punishes. Automatic emergency braking and pedestrian warning with braking (both at city speeds) and frontal collision warning are standard.
The base Z4, with a 254-horsepower turbocharged 4, is plenty quick, zipping from 0 to 60 mph in about 5 seconds. New for 2020, an optional 382-horsepower turbo 6-cylinder knocks more than a second off that time. Both models use a slick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission; sadly, no manual is available.
Should you desire a hardtop with zoomy styling, shift your focus to Toyota’s new Supra. Built alongside the Z4 in Austria, the Supra’s underpinnings and powertrain options are nearly identical to the Z4’s.
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Vehicle layout: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4 (254 hp), 8-speed automatic, RWD
MSRP, base model: $50,695; (as tested: $60,165)
MPG, city/highway/combined: 24/32/27
Safety ratings: NHTSA, IIHS: not yet rated
Spare tire: Tire-repair kit
Final assembly: Graz, Austria
Basic warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles