The new BMW Z4 improves on every level with more tech, more power and an impressive driving experience.
I needed three weeks to digest this car, not because there was something off with the Z4, but because I drove the new 2020 Toyota GR Supra less than 36 hours after returning the BMW. The new 2020 Z4 absolutely won me over with its styling, power and abilities and my video demonstrates this.
As I got out of the Supra, suddenly, the BMW wasn’t that special. It’s like when we all found out that Luke wasn’t the last Jedi, that there was another Skywalker. Or something along these lines. Don’t be thinking that the BMW is not a good car because it truly is – it’s the Toyota Supra that, it my mind at least, steals the show between the two. I expected it to be good but somehow not BMW Z4 M40i good.
Moving along then, the BMW does have a distinct advantage over the Supra and that is its disarmingly handsome looks. There are no weak links in this car’s design as it borrows heavily from previous BMW vehicles such as the 6 Series, Z1 and others. The best way to highlight the car’s personality is by opting for the incredible Misano Blue hue. The available blacked-out trim, the Z4 looks borderline exotic.
It’s much the same onboard where passengers are faced with evolved and typical BMW switchgear. Included with the M40i are BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional 10.25″ instrument cluster, and 10.25″ central display.
For the Z4, BMW’s masterfully managed to blend luxury and sportiness with incredible results. The optional Vernasca leather sports seats add to the opulence in the cabin – sincerely a great place to spend many an hour covering ground at high speeds.
M Power to the M’th degree
And so, let’s discuss speed. The 2020 BMW Z4 M40i gets its nomenclature from its 3.0-liter TwinPower twin-scroll turbo inline 6-cylinder which produces 381-horsepower between 5,500 and 6,500 rpm and 368 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,850-4,500 rpm. With the 8-speed automatic and a curb weight of just over 3,550 lb., the Z4 is very quick.
From a standstill, the BMW will launch to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds which is encroaching on serious sports car territory. The standard M adaptive dampers work some serious magic and besides the power, they make the M40i a convincingly viable daily driver.
I long ago came to understand that handling and performance need not be delivered at the expense of comfort. Some concessions were acceptable however none are present in the new 2020 BMZ Z4 M40i. The car’s structure is incredibly strong and stiff, permitting the dampers to do their job; they dampen the road’s surface. The way the Z4 manages control and comfort without a fixed roof is incredible.
Cruiser and racer
As a driver, the Z4 is as pleasant and responsive as anyone could hope for. The only element in which the BMW trails behind the Supra is steering response. Toyota engineers somehow accelerated initial turn-in but this is no way means the Bimmer is a slouch. The sense I get from behind the wheel is that the Z4’s nose is longer, or further away.
The Z4’s best trick is its twin personalities. Unlike the Toyota which compels you drive harder, the BMW welcomes cruising and serenity. With the top down, and in normal drive mode, the car will feel right at home lazily driving a coastal road. At the drop of the go-pedal however, the M40i immediately counters with neck-snapping acceleration, a roaring exhaust note and much speed. So good are the M dampers that there’s no real need to set the car in Sport mode to maximize grip. As in many cases with cars this good, Sport or Sport+ settings are best left for track applications. The Z4’s implausible chassis setup is not negatively affected by the Sport program, unlike lesser cars.
The new 2020 BMW Z4 M40i is in many ways a gift to well-heeled driving enthusiasts. In some respects, it bridges the gap between previously compromised roadsters and true GT cars. Relatedly, the new Toyota GR Supra, which is no longer a GT, still behaves like one.
The price of M things
For the moment, and in Canada, only the M40i trim is offered. With a starting price of $76,100. With options such as the Vernasca leather, driver assistance and premium packages, my tester topped out just shy of $85,000. This price range exposes the BMW to serious competitors like the Porsche 718 Boxster, the Audi TT as well as a less likely foe in the C7 Chevrolet Corvette convertible and a few others.
If at first, I thought the Z4 M40i to be more special than the 718, I’ve changed my tune because of the Supra – the BMW Z4 is not unique. It remains an amazing accomplishment. The imminent arrival of the sDrive 30i variant of the Z4 will make it a far more attainable product which should prove to be just as compelling to drive.
And finally, I believe the 2020 Toyota GR Supra is the big winner between the two. Its considerably lower price point and proven power and performance make it a bargain M40i BMW.