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BMW Z4 2012 Review

From coupe to convertible in a matter of seconds . . . the BMW Z4 sDrive 28i opens up a new era in fuel economy too.

BMW, the Bavarian automobile giant, has squeezed better performance and fuel economy out of its Z4 sports coupe range while keeping the purchase price down. How?


A shift from a six to a turbocharged four-cylinder engine has imbued the new top-of-the-class Z4 sDrive28i, for example, with the combination of outstanding performance at a retail price below $90,000. Not only that, this has the Z4 sDrive28i ducking under the federal government’s fuel efficient luxury car tax threshold, with the maker offering the car at a retail price of $89,400, compared with $98,700 for its predecessor, the Z4 sDrive30i.

The control knob for iDrive, the BMW multi-media information system that caused so much driver angst when it first appeared, is placed in its customary spot on the centre console and, together with an 8.8-inch display screen provides easy access (these days) to many of the car’s systems including satellite navigation and audio files.

The audio system itself consists of 11 speakers, a 245W digital amplifier with equaliser and USB interface enabling connection of an MP3 player, iPod or USB memory stick via the USB interface Voice Control System.


The 180 kW TwinPower Turbo Z4 sDrive28i races from zero to 100 km/h in just 5.7 seconds, 0.1 seconds quicker than the naturally aspirated Z4 sDrive30i, thanks to a 13 per cent increase in torque from 310 to 350 Nm. Fuel consumption is cut by 21 per cent, from 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres to 6.7 litres on the combined urban / highway cycle.

In addition to the standard six-speed manual transmission, the Z4 sDrive20i and Z4 sDrive28i are also available with the new eight--speed Sport Automatic Transmission, which includes one-direction gearshift paddles utilising M shift logic. This is unique in the class. During my time with this Z4 sDrive 28i the digital readout rated us at an average of 5 litres/100km on the motorway and 11.9 in and around town.


The simple yet extensive instrument layout includes circular speedometer and rev counter, plus tank level and oil temperature gauges, while the plain(ish) interior is set off by brushed aluminium highlights. The standard two seats are electrically adjustable with memory function for driver’s side and heating for driver and passenger seats. Upholstery is Kansas leather with sun reflective technology that prevents it getting overheated in direct sunlight.

The steering wheel is wrapped in leather, again with sun reflective properties, and includes multifunction buttons including gearshift paddles. The character of the car can be changed in 20 seconds via the retractable two-piece lightweight metal roof, which gives the car coupe status when raised, yet can be lowered automatically at speeds up to 40 km/h for conversion to a roadster.

When stowed, the drop-top leaves 180 litres of luggage space in the boot. This expands to 310 litres when the roof is raised. A through-loading hatch with integrated transport bag will take long items.  One nice thing about the test car was the auto dimming headlights on the approach of another vehicle in front. Guilt free, no scrambling for the dip switch here.


Dynamic Drive Control is another of the German marque’s ways of keeping the driver interested. Operated by a switch on the centre console it offers three distinct driving modes – Comfort, Sport and Sport+ - in which suspension damper forces can be varied as well as the progressive effect of the accelerator pedal, the engine response, power steering and Dynamic Stability Control.

Comfort is the default mode, with Sport summoning more direct steering and throttle response, while Sport+ brings in Dynamic Traction Control function on the DSC, allowing slight slip on the drive wheels, letting the more adventurous (and self-assured) driver take a bend in a controlled drift, all with an enhanced engine note.  Choosing between drive modes really does alter the Z4’s character – shifting from ‘cruisey’ coupe to ripper roadster, all at the press of a single rocker switch.


The Z4 sDrive 28i caters admirably for those wanting a two-seater sports coupe experience with the added appeal of top-down motoring if desired. And with the move to four-cylinder turbo power, performance is far from sacrificed at the altar excessive fuel consumption.

BMW Z4sDrive 28i Roadster

Price: from $89,400
Warranty: 3 years/unlimted km
Safety rating: 4-star ANCAP
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl 180kW/350Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual; 8-speed auto; RWD
Body: 4239mm (L); 1790mm (w); 1291mm (h)
Weight: 1400kg
Thirst: 6.8/100km; 159g/km Co2

Pricing guides

Based on third party pricing data
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Range and Specs

Z4 Sdrive 35IS 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $35,400 – 45,760 2012 BMW Z Models 2012 Z4 Sdrive 35IS Pricing and Specs
Z4 Sdrive 20I 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $22,600 – 30,690 2012 BMW Z Models 2012 Z4 Sdrive 20I Pricing and Specs
Z4 Sdrive 28I 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $26,800 – 35,530 2012 BMW Z Models 2012 Z4 Sdrive 28I Pricing and Specs
Z4 Sdrive 35I 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $40,100 – 51,260 2012 BMW Z Models 2012 Z4 Sdrive 35I Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.