BMW Z4 Roadster Models/Series Timeline, Specifications & Photos

Generations: 7
First production year: 2002
Engines: Gasoline
Body style: Convertible (spider/spyder, cabrio/cabriolet, drop/open/soft top)
BMW Z4 photo gallery

BMW listened to its customers and introduced a six-speed manual version for the 2025 Z4 M40i. Besides the new transmission, the car also came with several other improvements.

When the German automaker launched the third generation of the Z4 in 2018, customers loved it. Even though it was soon obvious that the car shared its underpinnings with the Toyota Supra J29 (the fifth generation), it was tuned for long and pleasant drives. While it didn’t lack the performance that made the Z4 famous worldwide, it wasn’t as hard-core as its Japanese cousin. In addition, it was available with a six-speed manual for selected countries only and with a 2.0-liter inline-four engine. Those who opted for the higher-powered three-liter turbocharged powerplant had to rely only on the eight-speed automatic version. Surprisingly, BMW re-considered its plans, and in 2024, it launched the Z4 with the straight-six powerplant paired with a six-speed manual. But that was just part of the upgrade. The automaker understood that those customers who craved a three-pedal setup wanted more than just to shift gears manually; they wanted a better-handling vehicle. Last but not least, the automaker named this three-pedal Z4 as the Pure Impulse edition.

The 2025 Z4 M40i had a revised front fascia. Its kidney grille sported a hexagonal pattern, while previously, it had a chain-like trim with a vertical layout. On the lower bumper, the automaker installed an additional air intake with an angular design flanked by a pair of side scoops that cooled the front brakes and ensured an air curtain around the bodywork, lowering the drag coefficient.

From its profile, the Z4 M40i Pure Impulse edition boasted its standard Shadowline trims, adding black exclusive model badging on the front fenders, black door mirror caps, and red M-brake calipers. In addition, the car sat on newly designed M light-alloy wheels with 19 inches up front and 20 inches in the back. Furthermore, the automaker added black badges on the trunk lid at the back. Under the bumper, the 2025 Z4 M40i Pure Impulse edition sported quad exhausts that flanked a rear diffuser.

Inside, the two-seat roadster featured high-bolstered sports seats made to keep their occupants in place during high-speed cornering maneuvers. Between them, on the center tunnel, BMW installed the new gear stick adorned by M badging. The Pure Impulse edition was available with Vernasca leather upholstery in Cognac with black M decorations.

However, the automaker wanted to provide customers with a better driving experience. As a result, besides the six-speed automatic gearbox, BMW also improved the suspension setup. Furthermore, it re-calibrated the M-differential. Even though the car wasn’t as quick in the 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) sprint as its eight-speed automatic brother, it promised a better experience on a twisty road.

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BMW Z4 (G29) photo gallery

BMW has a long history of making roadsters all the way back to its roots. This is why it continued to make roadsters for driving pleasure. In 2018, the new generation of the Z4 was launched. Unlike the previous generation, which was available with a retractable hard-top, the new generation is available only as a roadster. Those who want a coupe will have to buy the 2018 Toyota Supra, which is almost identical but it has a fixed top.

Unlike the Supra, the Z4 is available in three engine versions. The Z4 is available with a two liters engine either naturally aspirated or turbocharged, and the top version 3.0-liter turbocharged. The output range is between 197 and 340 hp. For the base model, the sDrive 2.0i, the transmission is a 6-speed manual gearbox. For all the others, an 8-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox is fitted as standard.

Compared to the older version, it is bigger on the outside but has a shorter wheelbase. Now it features a 2.47 meters (97.2”) long distance between the axles, which makes the car more agile in the corners. It also has a 50:50 weight distribution.

From the technology point of view, the Z4 has some interesting features. Apart from the latest digital instrument cluster and infotainment, the Z4 can be opened and locked via smartphone. Using the NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, the smartphone turns into a key. So, if you forgot your keys at home, just be sure you have the phone charged.

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BMW Z4 Roadster LCI (E89) photo gallery

The second generation of the Z4 was introduced in 2009 and it was followed by a mid-life cycle impulse (LCI) in 2013. Along with some aesthetic changes, a new engine was introduced, while the other existing ones were upgraded to Euro 6 pollution norms.

The Z-series of the German car-maker was launched in the mid-'80s with the Z1 roadster. It was followed by the Z3 and the mighty Z8. In 2002, the first generation of the Z4 was launched. The second generation for the Z4 was introduced in 2009, followed by the LCI in 2013. The Z4 E89 was offered with the retractable hard-top and eliminated the coupe version, which was available on its predecessor. After the 2013 model, all engine versions featured turbocharged units.

From the outside, the striking view was at the front, where the headlights were fitted with LED instead of regular light bulbs. The Z4 was offered exclusively with a retractable hard-top, which helped the buyers who didn't want their canvas top sitting with other parts under the trunk lid.

Inside, the 2013 Z4 received high-gloss black surrounds for the central air vents and the iDrive control system's folding Control Display, which was offered as part of the optional navigation system. The BMW Z4 sDrive28i, BMW Z4 sDrive35i, and BMW Z4 sDrive35is were offered with Kansas leather trim.

For the 2013 model, BMW added the sDrive18i version, which used the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. It was offered as standard with a 6-speed manual.

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BMW Z4 Roadster (E89) photo gallery

With the first generation launched in 1994, BMW renewed the interest in the 2-seat performance convertibles.

Offering luxury, balance and performance on the premium roadster market, the Z4 was the key to an engaging driving.

For the 3rd generation, BMW combined both a coupe and a convertible into a single model, the Z4.

Several improvements were made to enhance the ride comfort, offering an adaptive M suspension and electronically controlled dampers.

In a range of three 6-cylinder powerplants, the flagship model was BMW Z4 sDrive35i that was equipped with a 3.-liter twi-turbocharged engine. It produced no less than 306 hp and needed around 5.2 seconds to reach 100 kph.

If mated with the 7-speed dual clutch transmission, the Z4 was 0,1 seconds quicker thanks to the ultra quick uphisft and perfectly matched downshifts.

Aesthetically, the Z4 was a combination of a 6-Series Coupe (rear end) and a 3-Series (headlights). The Z4 featured the classic roadster proportions with a long hood, a short deck lid and a low wide stance.

The retractable metal top could be raised or lowered in 20 seconds and the Z4 was the first to come with a two-piece, electro-hydraulically operated hard-top.

For 2009, the overall visibility was greatly improved, with all round visibility up by 14% and side visibility up by 40%.

Although a little bit pricy, the Z4 was well equipped, powerful and fun to drive. Other less expensive options on the market at that time were the Mazda MX-5 and the Nissan 370z.

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BMW Z4 Roadster (E85) photo gallery

With an exterior look created by a Danish designer, the Z4 was fun to drive and affordable compared to other competitors in its class.

Reaching its 4th generation, the Z4 came with a fresher design that appealed to many of the brand’s fans.

The Z4 kept some of the references of an historical car, such as the large hood and the sloping roof.

Not only the exterior was attractive, as the new engines boasted even more power, reaching 215 hp with the 3.0-liter power plant. The fuel consumption was also reduced compared to the previous generation of the engines.

Available as a 2-seat roadster or a coupe for 2006, the roadster was available with the 3.0i, featuring 17-inch alloys, rain-sensing wipers and heated wiper jets, heated mirrors, power windows and mirrors, keyless entry, vinyl upholstery and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. The road was equipped with a manually operated soft top and a defroster-equipped glass rear window.

Safety wise, the Z4 came with antilock disc brakes and a stability control system. Also, side airbags, active knee protection and rollover protection were included.

While the Z4 earned a 3-star rating for side-impact, it managed to score 5 stars out of 5 for frontal impact.

The Z4 had a timeless design and sold well over the years.

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BMW Z4 M Roadster (E85) photo gallery

With a long history of producing open-top sports vehicles, BMW introduced the M-badged version of the Z4 Roadster in 2006, re-igniting competition in this segment.

The German automaker was known for its glorious open-top sports cars ever since the 1938 BMW 328. After WWII, its first attempt to regain traction in that segment was the 1956 507, which was a total disaster in terms of profit. Fast forward to the late ‘80s, and the Z1 stole the hearts of the brand’s enthusiasts. It was a clear sign that BMW had to make a powerful comeback in that segment, and it did that with the introduction of the 1995 Z3, followed by the 2002 Z4, which got an M-treatment in 2005 for the coupe version, and the Roadster in 2006. But it wasn’t just another open-top Z4 with a more powerful engine; it was a seriously upgraded car.

At first sight, the Z4 M Roadster looked just like its siblings, but there were several significant differences. At the front, the automaker kept the same headlights as on the rest of the range but installed a new bumper, which featured an apron that sported a trapezoidal-shaped air intake flanked by a pair of side scoops that mimicked the headlights’ design, albeit reversed by 180 degrees.

From its profile, the Z4 M Roadster sported M-specific badges on the front fenders, next to the round blinkers adorned by BMW’s logos. Its sculptured doors followed the flame-surfacing design concept imagined by the American designer Chris Bangle and applied by the car’s main stylist, Anders Warming. The five twin-spoke alloy wheels were also exclusive for this version of the Z4 and revealed the big brakes behind it. At the back, the rear fenders’ lines embodied the coke-bottle ideas from the mid-60s. Apart from the thick A-pillars, the automaker also added a set of safety arches behind the seats, while at the back, the short deck sported a duck-tail spoiler on the trunk. Finally, the rear fascia revealed a third M-badge on the panel and a fat bumper below that made room for the four exhausts to peak through it on the sides.

The two-seat cockpit revealed the sports-oriented intentions of the roadster due to its high-bolstered sports seats. Customers could get them in suede or a mix of leather and Alcantara. At the same time, BMW offered a carbon fiber pack option that added specific trims on the center console, center stack, and dashboard. The instrument cluster placed in front of the driver sported a binocular design with large dials for the speedometer and tachometer in individual clusters. In addition, the rev counter’s dial also housed the gauges for the fuel level and the oil temperature (not water). The center console housed the gear stick and the sport button.

But the real upgrade happened under the skin. Firstly, the power steering was hydraulic, not electrical, like on the rest of the Z4 range. In addition, the brake system was greatly improved for shorter stopping distances. Under the hood, the wizards from M GmbH installed a 3.2-liter naturally aspirated inline-six that sent its power to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual. The Z4 also came equipped with an M-differential (limited-slip).

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BMW Z4 (E85) photo gallery

The BMW Z4 arrived in 2002 to replace the BMW Z3 introduced in 1995. At first, the Z4 was only available as a roadster, however, in 2006, the German producer launched the coupe version.

The Z4’s body dimensions were larger and its wheelbase was longer and wider. The suspension was also upgraded to be stiffer and the car was equipped with a sport package which firmed up the steering. Some of the Z4’s elements were borrowed from the BMW’s 3 series such as the multilink suspension which was more advanced than the one used for the BMW Z3.

The steering no longer used the hydraulic pump and was replaced by an electric servo motor – the steering was controlled based on suspension movement and speed. Some might say that the steering stopped being that precise due to this change.

The Roadster (also called E85) had either a 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic transmission. The Coupe released in 2006 had a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic, equipped with shift paddles mounted on the steering column.

The BMW Z4 was offered with gasoline engines only, in 7 different cubic capacities and different power. The M version of the Coupe and the Roadster had the engine used for the M3, a 3.2-liter developing 343 hp. The standard featured a 6-speed manual gearbox.

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