The popular BMW Z4 Roadster is nearing its end as there is a decreasing market for high-performance roadsters and no successor in sight. However, before it bids farewell, the attractive open-top vehicle receives a final design upgrade. The 2023 BMW Z4 M40i and sDrive30i models were refreshed, and I flew to Florida to test one of them, specifically the M Performance variant.
The Z4 M40i has been a beloved mini-M roadster for years and is particularly appealing in today’s world where the newest M3 weighs a minimum of 3800 lbs. With a curb weight of roughly 3500 pounds and 50:50 weight distribution between the front and rear axles, it is a modern-day lightweight vehicle. Additionally, it features one of BMW’s top-rated current engines, the B58 workhorse.
The G29 Z4, which follows the iconic Z8’s styling cues, is a natural evolution of the already impressive E89 Z4, with classic sports car characteristics that promise to endure. The Z4’s short overhangs, long hood, and large wheels create an aggressive and timeless sports car silhouette. Furthermore, since the chassis was created in conjunction with the A90 Supra, it’s no surprise that the car is visually stunning.
New Color, Minor Design Updates
I had the opportunity to test drive a 2023 BMW Z4 M40i in Thundernight Metallic. Before discussing my impressions of the driving experience, it’s worth summarizing some of the updates for the 2023 model year. The facelift includes a more aggressive front grille, featuring a larger honeycomb mesh and a slightly slanted nose that gives it a more shark-like appearance. The headlights remain the same but can now be equipped with Shadowline accents, and the front bumper has been modified to accommodate new air intakes. Inside, the infotainment system from the previous generation has been retained (iDrive 7 FTW), and the sDrive30i version offers the option of a Sensatec artificial leather-wrapped dashboard. Additionally, the M Sport Package is now standard, featuring an M Sport steering wheel, M seats, and pedals.
Under the hood, the M40i Facelift is powered by an updated 3.0-liter inline-six engine, producing 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, making it one of the fastest vehicles in its class. The engine sounds amazing, especially for U.S. models that don’t have the OPF system.
The BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra are closely related, and the Z4 shares some components with other BMW models. However, the Z4 is built on the CLAR platform but only shares its rear axle with other CLAR vehicles. The front axle is made of aluminum and is positioned differently to accommodate the engine, which sits further back in the Z4 than in other CLAR vehicles. This configuration provides optimal chassis balance but had to be abandoned for the G80 and G82 M3 and M4 because of their all-wheel-drive capability. Although the Z4’s axle design is not identical to that of the G80 and G82, it shares many components and kinematics.
During a conversation with Michael Wimbeck, BMW Z4 Project Leader, we learned the Z4 Roadster had its seats pulled from the 1 Series and MINI – explaining their slightly smaller proportions. Wimbeck claims that the 3 Series firewall is the only other component the Z4 shares with other BMWs. Aside from that, everything is unique to the Z4.
Adaptive M Suspension and Rear Differential
As anticipated in a model like the M40i, the Z4 M Performance edition is equipped with a rear differential and an Adaptive M Suspension. However, due to the limited quality of driving roads in Florida, it was difficult to truly test the capabilities of the M differential. The few instances where I was able to take turns with the car, mostly on off-highway exits, resulted in a lively and enjoyable rear-end experience that was not overly aggressive.
The Adaptive M Suspension is almost a must in any new BMW today. As you know it from other BMWs, it adjusts the suspension settings according to driving conditions and preferences. This allows for a more comfortable ride on uneven surfaces, while also providing improved handling and stability during high-speed cornering. Of course, it also comes with different driving modes – Eco, Comfort and Sport. These modes allow drivers to customize their driving experience to suit their preferences. One caveat for the Model Year 2023: The Adaptive driving mode was dropped. The explanation? It wasn’t often used by Z4 customers nor it excelled at either end of the driving spectrum.
Compared to other M40i models, such as the M240i and M340i, the BMW Z4 M40i feels much more like a full M car when driving on the road. The car’s chassis is rigid and stable, with hardly any body roll, and it feels faster than the 4.4 seconds it takes to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph. Moreover, the 2023 BMW Z4 M40i features the most impressive electric steering we’ve experienced in a BMW, which is a remarkable achievement given that we’ve tested numerous M models, including the M2, M3, M4, and M5.
Best Electric Steering
The steering of the BMW Z4 M40i provides accurate and immediate responses to the road with a significant amount of feedback. This may be due to the new tires that were chosen for the vehicle. Instead of developing the car and the tires together, the driving dynamics engineer decided to use the Michelin Pilot Sport tires from the previous generation M3 and M4. According to Michael Wimbeck, the man in charge of the Z4 project, this decision was made for the ease of finding tires, cost, and suspension tuning.
No Nitpicking Necessary: BMW Z4 M40i Impressions
Moving on to the B58 engine, it has been significantly improved in this model. It not only sounds better than other M40i models but also produces an impressive 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque from low RPMs. The engine delivers powerful acceleration, bringing a smile to the face with every burst of power, and the exhaust blurbs are particularly enjoyable. It should be noted that this was a US-spec Z4 M40i, which not only has 40 more horsepower than the European version, but also lacks the OPF system, which often compromises the engine’s sound.
The transmission is the same reliable eight-speed automatic from ZF which stands out with its precise and smooth shifts. And that brings me to the next point? Will we ever see a BMW Z4 manual? The official word is this: “We’re thinking about one. That’s it for now.” But our sources say otherwise: a BMW Z4 M40i seems to be planned for a March 2024 production. Yet, it remains to be seen whether this will be a special edition Z4 targeting the U.S. market or a global product.
As part of my job, it’s important to scrutinize BMW and identify any flaws that may go unnoticed or overlooked. However, for the first time in a while, I couldn’t find any faults with the car. This 2023 BMW Z4 M40i is perfect! It’s the car that you don’t need (see practicality), but you certainly want. Of course, a BMW Z4M with the amazing S58 engine would have been amazing and certainly another future classic, but in reality, the Z4 M40is more than capable to keep up and even deliver the driving expectations of a full M car.
If I had space in my garage, and if my 1M wasn’t there, this would be the BMW I would buy today. It is truly the Ultimate Driving Machine!
2023 BMW Z4 M40i
- Exhaust Sound
- Powerful Engine
- Exterior Design
- Lack of a manual gearbox