BMW Z4 — Is BMW ready to pull the plug on its ionic roadster?

By Paul Borden

(March 21, 2024) Though speculation in recent years about the future of the BMW Z4 would lead you to believe the sporty little roadster is on its last legs (wheels?) the reports of its immediate demise may be a bit premature.

As far back as 2016 an item in lamented its impeding demise with the headline “Say Goodbye to the BMW Z4 – Imperfect but lovable” (sic).

True, a production hiatus of about three years followed that report, but the German automaker brought back the Z4 for 2019, though regrettably it did so without a manual transmission that many of its potential customers would have appreciated.

The first year of its comeback it was offered in only one trim sDrive30i with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine delivering 255 horsepower. An M40i model with a 3.0-liter turbo 6-cylinder bumping horsepower up to 382 and torque to 389 pound-feet was introduced for 2020, and those are the choices that remain today.

This review is based on the 2023 BMW Z4 M40i, but no major changes were made for 2024, which is unlike plans for 2025 when BMW will bring back a manual transmission for M40i models. It will be part of a $3,500 package that also includes other upgrades to make the Z4 more track friendly.

As it is, an 8-speed automatic is the only transmission offered on 2023 M40i Z4s. It includes sport and manual modes with gears switched via steering wheel-mounted paddles. (Sorry, but that’s just not the same as working a clutch.)

With the larger engine the Z4 M40i delivers a zero-to-60 mph clocking of 3.5 seconds (according to, a 1.6-second improvement over the 4-banger, while drinking premium at the rate of 23 miles-per-gallon city, 31 highway, and 26 combined.

Though it seats only two, the BMW Z4 is fairly roomy for a roadster and offers a compliant ride. Seat bolsters hold you in place but don’t get in the way of entering or exiting the vehicle.

Creature comforts include dual-zone temperature control, heated seats with lumbar support, and a heated steering wheel. A wind deflector provides protection from excessive buffeting when the top is lowered, which, by the way, is rapidly accomplished with the push of an overhead button.

Tech features include wireless charging, a wifi hotspot,  keyless entry and push-button start, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and BMW’s Live Cockpit system that includes navigation.

BMW’s Dynamic (adaptable) Cruise Control, a rollover protection system, and LED headlights also are among standard features included in the $65,300  starting MSRP for the 2023 BMW Z4 M40i.

My test vehicle added a Driving Assistance Package (blind-spot detection and lane-departure warning), a Shadowine Package (adaptive full LED headlights, black mirror caps, and extra styling touches), and a Premium Package (remote engine start and parking assistant).

The ivory white Vernasca leather interior and special Thundernight medallic paint (a purple shade sure to appeal to an LSU fan) and some other extras (like wireless charging and a Harmon Kardon surround sound system) ran the final total to $73,620 including the $995 destination and delivery charge.

More packages also are available.

Perhaps that will help stem a slowing sales trend that saw the last two years check in at under 2,000 units each for the Z4. But it needs to be quick. A more recent report from is that the company has extended production of the Z4 just until March of 2026.

What I liked about the 2024 BMW Z4: It’s a fun car to drive, surefooted around corners and packing punch. As expected, the trunk is small (9.9 cubic feet), but you don’t lose any space when the top is lowered. Speaking of lowering the top, it’s a simple, quick operation and can be done at a low (very low) speed. The ride isn’t all that noisy when the top is up.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 BMW Z4: Operating infotainment features isn’t overly complicated but takes some getting used to. Thick pillars bracing the windshield give you some blind spots looking forward. Cupholders are inside the interior storage bin making for an awkward reach, especially for the driver. No manual transmission is available until 2025 models.

Would I buy the 2024 BMW Z4? For sure. If you are of a certain age (read: old) this is the kind of vehicle you thought of when someone said “sports car.” This modern day version from Germany still has the same fun in its DNA as the older Brit models Triumph and MG and without the maintenance headaches.