We just recently reviewed the current E89 generation BMW Z4, despite it getting quite long in the tooth. The current Z4 is by far the oldest car in its class and it’s starting to show. While the Z4 is still a good car that isn’t without charm, it’s in dire need of replacement. But that’s okay, because a replacement is right around the corner.
We also spoke about the next G29 generation BMW Z4 and how it will be built alongside the Toyota Supra. We do know a little about the new Z4, like that it will use both of BMW’s new engines, the B48 and B58, and the latter will be in an M40i variant. We also know that it will ditch the folding metal roof for a power soft top. There will be no proper M variant and there is no word on a manual gearbox.
So that’s what we do know about the next-gen BMW Z4. But there’s still a lot of unknowns and we can only hope that BMW gets them right. While driving the current car, there were quite a few things I realized I hoped would improve. So let’s talk about five things that BMW should improve with the next Z4.
1. Weight – First and foremost, the next BMW Z4 needs to be significantly lighter than the current car. In its absolute lightest configuration, the Z4 sDrive28i with a manual that I tested, it’s about 3,250 lbs. Even a PDK-equipped Porsche 718 Boxster is a couple hundred pounds lighter than that. Most of that weight disadvantage is thanks to the Z4’s folding hard-top. While it looks great, it’s unnecessary weight and doesn’t even insulate the cabin as well as Porsche’s soft-top. We do know that the next Z4 will get a soft-top so this should do quite a lot to lighten it up, but BMW needs to make sure that this next Z4 barely tips 3,000 lbs with a manual. If Porsche can do it, so can BMW.
2. Steering Feel – In cars like the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series, I actually don’t have that much of an issue with the relatively numb steering, because they’re still very accurate and those cars are meant to be quite mainstream, so the lighter steering is understood. However, a car like the Z4 is meant to be a sports car and only a sports car, hence the drop-top and lack of back seat. You don’t buy a compromised car like the Z4 unless you want to enjoy driving it, so please BMW, give us back the great steering feel that the current Z4 lacks. BMW showed us it still can do so with the new M2 which, while not E46 M3-good, has great steering.
3. Manual Option with all Engines – Admittedly, when BMW first launched the E89 Z4, it had a manual option with both engine choices. However, for the past couple of years, only the sDrive28i and its 2.0 liter turbo-four has been available with three pedals, as the bigger sDrive35i and its 3.0 liter turbo-six are DCT only. While the DCT is great and still fun to drive, there’s nothing like rowing your own gears in a two-seater with the top down and that should be available with the more powerful Z4 M40i that’s coming.
4. Bigger Trunk Space – Admittedly, the next-gen Z4’s soft-top will likely solve the trunk space issues of the current car, but it’s something BMW should certainly address one way or another. We all understand that a roadster’s trunk space is going to be compromised for the retracting roof. But the current Z4 has almost zero room in the trunk with the top down. I was only able to get one decently sized backpack in there with the top down and this severely hurts the Z4’s ability to be any sort of road trip car. Obviously, no one is expecting a two-seat roadster to have serious road-trip ability, but cars like the Z4 make great cars for a weekend getaway for a couple. But good luck fitting two bags in the trunk. Just a bit more space with the top down, enough for two backpacks, would be nice. The soft top should allow for this, though.
5. Better Sound Insulation – With the top up on the current Z4, there’s far too much wind, engine and road noise than acceptable from a folding hard-top. The entire idea of having a folding metal roof over a soft-top is the added luxury of its sound insulation with it up. However, the Z4 seems to lack this luxury, as the engine drone and wind noise were migraine-inducing over long highway trips. Even cars like the Audi TT and Porsche Boxster that have folding soft-tops have better sound insulation and it’s something the next BMW Z4 certainly needs to improve on.