The market for two-seat sports cars has been shrinking in recent years, forcing important automakers like BMW and Toyota to collaborate on the new Z4 and Supra, which otherwise might have not existed.
This has forced BMW to make the all-new Z4 sharper than its predecessor in order to rival not only similar models such as the Mercedes-Benz SLC and Audi TT, but also the segment’s benchmark: the mid-engined Porsche 718 Boxster.
Has BMW pulled that off? Quite possibly, according to Auto Express’ Steve Sutcliffe who drove the 2019 Z4 in range-topping M40i guise and found it an improvement over its predecessor in every measurable department. So what about that Boxster, then?
Well, that’s where things get more complicated. While the Z4 M40i is sharper than any of its predecessors, the chassis is still a bit soft and doesn’t feel as glued to the asphalt as a 718 Boxster. Sutcliffe says the extra lateral movement compared to the mid-engined rival is obvious even in the adaptive suspension’s sportiest setting, making the Z4 feel less planted in corners.
However, the BMW’s slightly softer suspension setup translates into a better ride quality than the Porsche’s. Then there’s the (Euro-spec) 335hp (340PS) 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six that’s better in every respect than the Boxster S’ 345 hp (350PS) 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-four. The Z4 also has the upper hand when it comes to onboard tech.
The Z4 has come a long way since the original model launched in 2002, evolving into its best iteration yet in M40i guise. Furthermore, chances are it won’t alienate its loyal followers because everything that made the Z4 nameplate what it is today is still there – only better.