Like every other BMW I've driven with this sweet turbocharged six, the Z4 is incredibly quick and entertaining. As others have noted, the steering and handling are spot on, and the dual-clutch automatic is beyond reproach, especially when it's in sport mode. I found the ride a bit harsher than I'd like, but all the jouncing only further highlighted the car's incredible structural rigidity.
The hardtop opens and closes quickly enough, but it can't match the simple freedom of a fabric roof. Driving a Mazda MX-5 Miata last weekend, I must have opened and closed the top forty times. It didn't matter where I was going or what I had in the trunk, I'd just fling it open without a second thought. In the Z4, I didn't bother with the roof unless I thought I'd be in the car longer than ten minutes. Of course, the Z4 is no simple roadster - it's a luxurious, fast two-seater bristling with technology. Perhaps a hardtop better fits the car's character.
I'm usually not a fan of bright red in a cabin, but it works wonderfully on the Z4's well-bolstered seats. Indeed, the interior design alone goes a long way in justifying the price premium over a 135i convertible.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor