2009 BMW Z4 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Stylish look inside and out, excellent powertrains, quick-folding hardtop.
  • Electric power steering lacks feel.
List Price Range
$16,954 - $16,995

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The all-new 2009 BMW Z4 has moved upscale in terms of both performance and luxury. It's an impressive package, but the electric power steering is uncharacteristically numb for a BMW.

Vehicle overview

The outgoing BMW Z4, like the Z3 before it, was widely considered to be merely an expensive "sporty" car -- a Miata for well-off college coeds. But a full redesign for the 2009 BMW Z4 moves the car into the rarefied realm of true luxury/performance roadsters. The new Z4 is significantly more refined, there's a little more room inside and it now boasts a power-folding hardtop. It's more expensive, too, but that's to be expected with the advent of the retractable hardtop and a more luxurious interior. At $45,000-50,000 to start, the Z4 now goes head-to-head with well-established rivals like the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class and the Porsche Boxster.

The Z4 mostly delivers when it comes to performance, the exception being its artificial-feeling electric power steering, and it adds a level of sophistication that few small convertibles can match. The base sDrive 30i comes with a capable inline-6 that's good for 255 hp, while the sDrive35i ups the ante with a 300-hp twin-turbocharged inline-6 that gets the roadster from zero to 60 in an estimated 5 seconds flat -- about as quick as last year's hard-core M version of the Z4. You can also get an all-new seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission on the sDrive35i that's similar to the M3's "M DCT" gearbox.

The latest Z4 is about 6 inches longer and 350 pounds heavier than before. Visually, the car is stunning. There's even a hint of the classic BMW 507 from the 1950s if you look closely at the front end treatment. The power-retractable hardtop also adds a whole new dimension to the car. Owners still get the al fresco driving experience of a convertible, but now they can seal up the car with the hardtop when the noise, wind and/or temperature get to be too much. The Z4's cabin is also more elegant than it used to be, with better materials and greater attention to detail. BMW's controversial iDrive interface system is available on the Z4 for the first time, and thankfully it benefits from the substantial revisions that BMW has applied for '09. It's much easier to use than before.

From a value standpoint, vehicles like the Audi TT and upcoming Nissan 370Z roadster are less expensive, but the Z4's higher price gets you a lot more car. Mercedes-Benz's competitively priced SLK-Class remains a viable contender, but the new Z4 eclipses it in some ways. Porsche's Boxster ragtop and Cayman coupe are more dynamically involving, and Chevrolet's Corvette convertible delivers big V8 power, but they can't match the versatility of the Z4's retractable hardtop. Overall, the 2009 BMW Z4's combination of sophistication, luxury and performance makes it a compelling new entrant in this entertaining segment.

2009 BMW Z4 models

The 2009 BMW Z4 is a convertible with a retractable hardtop. Two versions are offered -- base sDrive30i and the more powerful sDrive35i. The main distinction between the two cars is in the engine bay, although each comes with slightly different levels of standard equipment. The base sDrive30i model includes 17-inch wheels with run-flat tires, a CD audio system with satellite radio preparation and an auxiliary input jack, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dynamic cruise control and rain-sensing wipers. The sDrive35i adds niceties like leather seating, automatic climate control and aluminum interior trim.

There are several notable option packages. The Premium package includes leather and automatic climate control for the 30i model, power seats with driver-side memory, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, interior ambient lighting, Bluetooth and BMW Assist. The Cold Weather package includes headlight washers, a heated steering wheel, heated seats and a ski bag pass-through from the trunk. The Premium Sound package includes a high-end audio system plus a six-CD changer and an iPod jack. An Ivory White Leather package gives you exactly what it sounds like and also includes special wood trim and 10-way-adjustable sport seats. Finally, the Sport package includes 18-inch wheels with performance tires, adaptive suspension dampers, sport seats and a higher top speed thanks to a recalibrated electronic limiter.

Many of these options are available separately, but a few stand-alone options that are not included in packages are keyless ignition/entry, a hard-drive-based navigation system with a pop-up screen and music storage, parking sensors and HD radio.

2009 Highlights

For 2009, BMW's Z4 has been fully redesigned. The biggest change is the addition of a retractable aluminum hardtop instead of the previous soft top -- BMW says it won't have a separate coupe model this time around. Other changes include more cohesive styling, a bit more interior room and a newly optional 300-horsepower twin-turbocharged engine.

Performance & mpg

The rear-wheel-drive 2009 BMW Z4 offers two engines -- one for each trim level. The base sDrive30i comes with a naturally aspirated 3.0-liter inline-6 that makes 255 hp and 220 pound-feet of torque. The sDrive35i receives BMW's ubiquitous twin-turbocharged inline-6 that's rated at 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Both cars come standard with a six-speed manual transmission. A seven-speed dual clutch automated manual is optional only on the sDrive35i. A six-speed automatic is optional on the non-turbo model.

BMW says the twin-turbo version of the Z4 can run from zero to 60 in 5 seconds flat, while the base model should lag roughly a second behind.


Side impact airbags, antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control and traction control are standard on the 2009 Z4. The roof is made of aluminum and incorporates a support system that helps protect occupants in case of a rollover accident. To provide protection in the event of a top-down rollover, there is a steel hoop behind each seat.


Even the base 2009 BMW Z4 sDrive30i is an entertaining drive thanks to its willing and preternaturally smooth 255-hp inline-6. The twin-turbocharged sDrive35i is better yet, offering up authoritative yet refined acceleration with no perceptible turbo lag. The snarky exhaust note only adds to the fun and gets angrier as the revs climb. The new dual-clutch automated manual transmission delivers quick and smooth shifts in manual mode, yet it doesn't lurch in parking lot situations, and gently easing into the throttle doesn't result in a sudden snap. In terms of handling and steering, BMW's latest roadster is sporty enough for most, but its reflexes and communication with the driver are lackluster when compared to those of Porsche's Boxster and Cayman. The main culprit here is the electric power steering system, which is largely devoid of the feel and feedback we expect in BMW products.


The 2009 BMW's Z4's cabin is considerably more upscale than its rather Spartan predecessor's. High-quality materials abound, and diverse shapes and exquisite surfaces combine to create a premium environment. Thankfully, BMW didn't forget about practicality along the way. There's a small storage area behind the seats that works well for purses or backpacks as well as a moderately sized pass-through that effectively expands trunk space to accommodate long items like skis or golf clubs. The new iDrive system is also worth mentioning, as it's much less cumbersome to use than previous iterations.

The hardtop does eat into storage space when folded -- there's a respectable 11 cubic feet with the top up, but only 6 with the top down. The folding top is power-operated and takes only about 20 seconds to retract.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2009 BMW Z4.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Dream, or Nightmare?
After my 08 Z4 was totaled by a teenager, I made the mistake of driving this car. This engine paired with the 7 speed transmission is the best drive-train I've ever driven, and that includes owning a Vette, Boxster, Jag XK, and my 08. My research showed an all-too-common complaint with the fuel pump failure and oil overheating. Knowing this, I still bought this car. I may regret it someday but unlike most modern muscle, this car gives you mega-power below 2K revs and keeps it through 5K with little or no turbo lag. Compare with the M3 which gives you almost nothing until you hit 4500 revs. The M3 may be the better track car, but I drive on the street. Nothing else can match this Z for daily use.
SO much fun!!
BMW Addict,01/26/2010
Just purchased the re-designed Z4. I have owned three Z4's, kept trying to talk myself into liking the previous version, to no avail. The new Z4 is a winner. The interior is roomier both in length and width, which is great for my 6' frame. The 3.0 has plenty of power. The only options I got were auto and heated seats. The body is rigid but not abusive when driving. Easily a commuter car. The styling is flawless - be prepared for people staring at you. If you can find an '09, grab it, BMW is giving a $5000 cash rebate if you finance. Mine had a sticker of $49k and I got it for $39,300!! Can't' wait for summer! I turned in a Lexus IS250 Vert - Lexus = fun to RIDE in, BMW = fun to DRIVE!!
Great CPO purchase
sDrive30i 2dr Convertible (3.0L 6cyl 6M)
This is a very nice choice for a 2-seat convertible. The ride with the hard-top up is very quiet. It is surprisingly comfortable and roomy for taller drivers. I find the throttle response a bit lagging in "normal" mode, but the "sport" mode is much better, making it quick and responsive. It feels very solid. No rattles. I have had mine for about 4.5 months. Got a very fair deal on it as a CPO BMW with warranty until 2019. It is a very good-looking car, especially in black, which matches the front windshield pillars. No problems at all with it so far.
Traded in my 08 Z4 for this new 2009 Z4. Left the dealership with my wife turned directly onto the interstate for our first ride. We looked at each other and said and said awesome. There are no comparisons to the ride of this vehicle, smooth and in control, you want to take this on a long trip. Vehicle equipped with the double clutch 7 speed transmission, you can't feel it change gears. Got the Ivory White interior, a great upgrade well worth the price. Had looked at the 650c and almost purchased one because of the ride of the old Z4 glad I waited, this new Z4 is a blast. For us older guys this car is easier to get in and out. The 300hp is going to be fun. I think we will like this for years.

Features & Specs

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More about the 2009 BMW Z4
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A cool coastal breeze swirls through the cabin, faintly accented with the scent of oranges from the surrounding groves. A "Curvy Road Ahead" sign cautions a change of pace, but the 2009 BMW Z4 sDrive35i is ready.

Press the Sport button and feel the steering weight up. Brake for the first turn, blip the twin-turbo straight-6 and push the mechanical-feeling six-speed manual transmission down to 3rd. The cool breeze hastens and the smooth howl of 300 horses arises from under the epically long hood. This is the new Z4 at its finest, a car that redefines what a luxury roadster can be from the company that reintroduced the segment 14 years ago.

The all-new Z4 seems a world apart from its predecessor, a car seemingly designed by cleaver-wielding art school students and tuned to take on (unsuccessfully) Porsche's slick-handling Boxster. The new car is beautiful, catching impressed glances from those who pass by. It cunningly sets a new styling course for itself, while honoring successful aspects of BMW's roadster past — Z8 proportions, Z3 side gills, Z4 ducktail and 507 character lines. Best of all, it hides its lowered retractable hardtop without the telltale bulbous butt indicative of such convertibles.

But it's the 2009 BMW Z4's handling and performance that really signal its change in philosophy. Gone is the rock-hard ride, replaced by a supple suspension that makes the Z4 a plausible candidate for long-distance road trips (the hardtop and big trunk help, too). That twisty road through the orange groves was dispatched with control and skill, but BMW wisely now concedes truly aggressive motoring to the Boxster. This puts the Z4 more in line with the similarly priced and roofed Mercedes-Benz SLK — although with its more spacious and higher-quality cabin, polished ride and generally refined nature, the Z4 seems more like a budget alternative to the Mercedes SL. That makes the higher price for 2009 easier to swallow, although at $51,650, the sDrive35i has a higher base price than the outgoing Z4 M Roadster.

Yet progress comes with a price sometimes, and the 2009 BMW Z4 sDrive35i certainly represents progress (along with clunky trim names). For long drives through a cool breeze under the warm summer sun, the roadster has been redefined once again.

Used 2009 BMW Z4 Overview

The Used 2009 BMW Z4 is offered in the following submodels: Z4 Convertible. Available styles include sDrive30i 2dr Convertible (3.0L 6cyl 6M), and sDrive35i 2dr Convertible (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2009 BMW Z4?

Price comparisons for Used 2009 BMW Z4 trim styles:

  • The Used 2009 BMW Z4 sDrive30i is priced between $16,995 and$16,995 with odometer readings between 82055 and82055 miles.
  • The Used 2009 BMW Z4 sDrive35i is priced between $16,954 and$16,954 with odometer readings between 76532 and76532 miles.

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Find a used BMW Z4 for sale - 1 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $19,101.

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Find a used certified pre-owned BMW for sale - 9 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $16,178.

Should I lease or buy a 2009 BMW Z4?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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