New for 2015

The BMW Z4 enters the 2015 model year largely unchanged, but makes the seven-speed automatic standard equipment on the mid-level sDrive35i, leaving the base sDrive28i the only model that can be ordered with a manual transmission. With the transmission change, the sDrive35i gains the sport leather steering wheel with paddle shifters found on the sDrive35is.

Vehicle Overview

The BMW Z4 is a hardtop convertible roadster that fits in price above the 2 Series soft-top convertible, alongside the 4 Series hardtop convertible, and below the 6 Series soft-top convertible, as one of the automaker’s sportier offerings. Though years ago a coupe was available, currently only the roadster is built.


The 2015 BMW Z4 is a front-engine rear-drive hardtop convertible that remains one of the automaker’s more sporty cars. The base engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 that makes 240 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque that can be paired with an eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission and is EPA-rated for 22/34 mpg (city/highway) with the manual and just one less on the highway with the automatic. The more powerful twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 can only be paired with the eight-speed automatic, and in standard trim makes 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Buyers wanting more power can get a roadster in “35is” trim, which makes 335 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. EPA-ratings place the standard engine at 19/26 mpg, and the 35is engine at 17/24 mpg.

For those more interested in luxury features than twin-turbo engines, the 2015 Z4 offers a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, Alcantara leather-accented interior, parking distance sensors, BMW’s remote services (can unlock the car remotely, among other tasks), adaptive HID headlights, adaptive brake lights (more light is emitted when more brake force is applied), and an adaptive suspension.

The 2015 BMW Z4 has not been crash tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS.

What We Think

To get a 2015 BMW Z4 with a manual transmission, you have to get the base model with the turbo I-4. The balance is pretty good, but the exhaust note leaves something to be desired. It’s definitely as good as the I-6 it replaced. Sure, the 35i and 35is models get a twin-turbo I-6, but as we commented in an Editor’s Notebook review of a 2011 BMW Z4, “the sDrive35is is an out-of-this-world engine and transmission shoehorned into a car that’s ‘only’ very good.” The Z4 is so good that it’s near impossible to reach its limits on public roads, something that’s perhaps a good thing while being a bad thing. It hangs on and handles, but because of the technological prowess it feels uninvolving. Despite some dissension among our staff, and comparisons to the excellent Porsche Boxster, Mazda MX-5 Miata, and Audi TT, we said, “Sure, it doesn’t quite match the dynamic performance of a Porsche Boxster, but I have no complaints. Anyone who buys a Z4 should know exactly what they’re getting, and I doubt that most of them have any complaints, either.”

You’ll Like

  • 335 hp twin-turbo I-6
  • Bold styling
  • You can still get a manual transmission

You Won’t Like

  • Tiny trunk
  • No manual/I-6 option anymore
  • Not as dynamically exciting as the Porsche Boxster

Key Competitors

  • Porsche Boxster
  • Mercedes Benz SLK-Class
  • Mazda MX-5 Miata


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