2023 BMW Z4 Modestly Updated, Keeps Roadster Appeal Alive – Car and Driver

  • September 28, 2022

There are minor appearance changes inside and out, but sadly the U.S. version isn’t adding a manual transmission like its Toyota Supra sibling.
Props to BMW for sticking around with its roadster: the segment has been shrinking continuously, but a few convertibles are still around. One of them is the BMW Z4, which entered its third model generation (the fourth, if you count the Z3) just two years ago. Surprisingly, it is already up for an update, although this is less of a mid-cycle refresh (at least we hope we aren’t there yet) and more of a streamlining.
The Z4 is one of our favorites because it is a serious sports car, and we suspect that is not least the case because of Toyota’s input in this joint project, which led both to the Z4 and the Supra. We understand that BMW was content with a roadster that would improve on the qualities of the predecessor, while Toyota had its sights set on the Porsche Cayman. Tellingly, the joint project only took off after Herbert Diess left BMW for the pastures of Wolfsburg; he had been interested in jointly developing a hybrid with Toyota, but the Japanese insisted on a purist approach. What emerged were two cars—the Z4 and the Supra—that are extremely competent in their own right, with marked differences.
In many other markets, the Z4 is available as the sDrive 20i, with an 194-hp entry-level 2.0-liter four and a six-speed manual, but the U.S. portfolio begins with a more powerful version of the same four-banger, the 255-hp sDrive 30i. The range is topped by a second model, the straight-six 382-hp M40i. Both engines are mated to the ubiquitous ZF-sourced 8HP torque-converter-type automatic.
To reach a "new maximum of sportiness," as the press release gushes, the formerly optional M Sport body trim, which has always been standard on the M40i, now becomes standard equipment on the sDrive 30i as well. The more chiseled and aggressive look will no doubt please the attention-seeking crowd, although we never had a problem with the cleaner look of the now-deleted Sport Line look that the brand had identified as “Classic BMW Design.” Experts will still be able to tell the two models apart: The M40i comes with mirror caps in the bronze-ish Cerium Gray and larger, angular exhaust tips.

There’s a minor nose job, too: Both variants get a restyled front kidney grille which loses the vertically positioned dots in favor of horizontally oriented décor that is designed to "add to the impression of width at the front." Three "rich" new metallic colors, a new optional 19-inch wheel design and optional black trim for the headlights top off the rather modest list of changes, which thankfully does not include the curved dashboard that is currently trickling down from the iX electric SUV to most of BMW’s other models.
The new model year launches in November, with prices starting at $53,795 for the sDrive 30i and $66,295 for the M40i, which is only a couple hundred dollars above 2022 prices. We’re glad the Z4 carries on, and we hope it does so for many more years. The mild enhancements should give it a boost in the market until we see more substantial changes a few years down the road—which, if we were granted a wish, would include a manual transmission on the glorious straight-six like the Supra now offers.

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