Used 1997 BMW Z3 Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1997

BMW makes its 190-horsepower six-cylinder engine available in the Z3 2.8.

Vehicle overview

Contrary to our predictions, the excitement over the Z3 is not dying down. After one year on the market, the beautiful Z3 still causes a stir whenever it makes an appearance on the streets of our fair city. To ensure that the Z3 retains its superstar status, and to fend off increasing competition from Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, BMW has dropped its formidable, six-cylinder powerplant into the engine compartment of the country's most coveted roadster. The only toy more popular in the United States is the elusive Tickle-Me-Elmo doll.

So, what's so special about this car? Obviously, the thrill of open-air motoring in a European two-seater is appealing to any baby boomer who owned an MGA, MGB or TR-6 when they were in college. Even better, the Z3 will undoubtedly be more driveable and comfortable than their counterparts of yesteryear. Twenty-somethings are attracted to the Z3 because of its undeniable sex appeal and attainable price. Everyone else loves it because it's a BMW; that means spirited driving and a wagon-load of prestige. The fact that the Z3 shares the 3-Series platform, engine, and many components, bodes well for the car's performance and safety.

The editorial staff at Edmund's has had a number of good-natured arguments over the character of this car. Some of us look at the Z3 and see a Miata rip-off. Others see a car that will fit quite nicely into BMW's M division, giving us some of the most exciting drop-top driving to be found on this side of the Italian Alps. We all think it's cute.

Though winter is upon us, our enthusiasm for the Z3 is not waning; every time a Z3 passes us on the way to the grocery store we turn green with envy. Mercedes and Porsche are releasing affordable roadsters this year, too, adding even more excitement to a long-forgotten segment of the automotive industry. Despite the competition, however, we think that it will be hard to top the Z3.

The 1997 Z3 is beautiful, and the inclusion of a six-cylinder engine-equipped model, makes the car an even more desirable mode of transportation. If you don't have kids, or have the money for a totally impractical toy, this is the car for you!

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.