What's New for 1999
The Z3 2.8 Coupe is new, side airbags are now standard on all models and a 2.5-liter inline six replaces the 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine on the entry-level roadster.
The Z3, introduced in 1996, has seen unfaltering popularity with young and old alike even as the line has grown to include more models. It seems that wherever we take these cars, a crowd quickly forms to ask questions about performance and drool over their lovely shapes. The Z3 lineup now consists of three sportsters: the new 2.8-liter Z3 Coupe, Z3 Roadster 2.3 and Z3 Roadster 2.8.
The Z3 Roadster 2.3 has a 2.5-liter six-cylinder engine that replaces last year's four-cylinder engine, and makes 170 horsepower while meeting Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards. This year, the Z3 gets wider rear bodywork, a revised suspension and new bumpers. The excellent Z3 2.8 Roadster is unchanged for 1999, save for the addition of side airbags.
The Z3 Coupe 2.8, new this year and based on the Z3 Roadster 2.8, comes powered by a 2.8-liter, 193-horsepower, six-cylinder engine that also meets LEV standards. Options on the vehicle include an on-board computer, heated seats and heated mirrors. Rear storage areas are accessible through a hatchback rear door. BMW's new closed-body sports car is priced at $36,770, making it attainable to a large number of consumers.
So, who's going to buy these cars, anyway? Obviously, the thrill of open-air motoring in a European two-seater is appealing to any baby boomer who owned a sporty little convertible when they were going to college. The solid little coupe, however, makes sense for snowbelt dwellers who like a bit of funk with their sport. Even better, the new Z3s will undoubtedly be more durable and comfortable than their counterparts of yesteryear. Thirtysomethings are attracted to Z3s because of their undeniable sex appeal and attainable price. Everyone else loves them because they are BMWs (translation: spirited driving with a wagonload of prestige.)
The 1999 Z3s are beautiful, and the new coupe rounds out the lineup quite nicely. If you don't have kids to haul around and love to drive, this may be the car for you.