What's New for 2000
Dynamic Stability Control is now standard on all Z3s. The cars also receive freshened exterior and interior styling and appointments.
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 to drool over their lovely shapes.
The Z3 lineup consists of three sportsters: the Z3 Roadster 2.3, Z3 Coupe 2.8 and Z3 Roadster 2.8. The Z3 Roadster 2.3 has a 2.5-liter, six-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower while meeting Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards. Z3s outfitted with larger, 2.8-liter, 193-horsepower, six-cylinder engines are available as coupes or roadsters. These cars also meet LEV standards.
For 2000, Z3 Roadsters receive new L-shaped taillights with clear turn signal lenses, fully lined tops, re-sculpted rear flanks, and a redesigned center console. New colors inside and out spruce up the Z3, as do new alloy-wheel designs. The sound system is actually audible at speed this year, thanks to the addition of two subwoofers. Analog clocks replace digital versions in both the 2.3 and 2.8 models. The 2.3 gets standard four-wheel disc brakes, a limited-slip differential and 16-inch V-rated performance tires. The 2.8 has new chrome grille slats. All Z3s have a new leather-wrapped M-Technic sport steering wheel and standard Dynamic Stability Control, which senses when the car is veering from its intended path and selectively modulates engine torque and the antilock brakes to bring the car under control. Additional changes to the coupe are limited to a new wheel design, which doesn't help it look any less like a high-topped sneaker.
Driving BMW's Z3 cars is a phenomenal experience. Even the most basic Z3 2.3 Roadster, with its powerful inline six and newly ventilated front-disc brakes, is a blast. Only at high speeds does the 2.3 feel winded, but opting for the larger displacement 2.8-liter six in the 2.8 Roadster solves that problem. And for those who must have a rigid structure and protection from the elements, the 2.8 Coupe is a hoot. With superb steering and excellent brakes, any Z3 is fun to drive and own. Despite their prowess, however, pure performance freaks will want to step up to the M Coupe and M Roadster, which offer more power and better handling.
Slotted comfortably between the bargain Mazda Miata and more expensive machines from Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, there is a Z3 to suit anybody's needs. The thrill of open-air motoring in a European two-seater is appealing to any baby boomer who owned a sporty little convertible while in college. The solid coupe, however, makes more sense for Snowbelt dwellers who like a bit of "funk" with their "sport." Thirty-somethings are attracted to Z3s because of their undeniable sex appeal and attainable price. But let's face it: Everybody who loves to drive loves the Z3.