One of the less popular BMW performance cars of the past decade or so is the BMW Z4 M. It wasn’t a big seller and it was sort of caught in the shadow of the E46 BMW M3 and E60 BMW M5, two BMWs that dominated headlines in its day. However, if enthusiasts remember the Z4 M and give it a chance, they’ll be surprised with one of the best driving cars BMW’s M Division has ever made. In fact, it’s right up there with the BMW 1 Series M and M2 as the best-driving modern BMWs. If you’re looking to buy one, Autocar put together a bit of a buyer’s guide to help you out.
Powering the BMW Z4 M was the very same S54 3.2 liter I6 engine as the E46 M3, just with most of the kinks worked out. While the E46 M3’s S54 engine had some issues with its VANOS variable valve timing, the Z4 M had its engine issues mended. So it’s actually the more reliable of the two. There are some cases of con-rod bearing failure above 75,000 miles though they seem to be isolated incidents, rather than an inherent problem with the engine. Still, it’s probably best to find an example with less than 50,000 miles and one with a good service record and regular oil changes just to be sure.
Then there’s the question of which kind to buy, the Roadster or the Coupe. Being that the Z4 was designed to be a roadster from the beginning, it doesn’t really lose any torsional rigidity to the Coupe, so there should be no worry there. The Roadster gets softer suspension, bushings and anti-roll bars, while the Coupe is a bit stiffer in its suspension. Although, the Roadster has a bit more aggressive suspension geometry and is lighter. Considering that Roadsters are typically cheaper and a bit softer, they’re actually the better buy for road use.
With a 333 hp I6 engine, a proper six-speed manual and some of the best athletics of any modern-ish BMW, the BMW Z4 M is an awesome car to buy right now. Whether it be a Coupe or a Roadster, the BMW Z4 M is an awesome car to drive and worth looking into. Just check out this buyer’s guide first to see which one you should buy.