Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 BMW Z4 Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 BMW Z4 Overview

Body
A Better Bimmer

When BMW first launched the Z roadster, there were many comparisons to Mazda's Miata. Both cars featured curving, bulbous bodies, were powered by small four-cylinder engines and featured nearly perfect 50/50 front to rear weight ratios (though the Miata had the upper hand in this area). As complemented as Mazda must have felt, the Miata was not the car BMW was aiming to challenge, let alone be compared to. This year, BMW has rectified that situation with the all-new Z4 roadster. With more power, a bigger body and a dramatic improvement in both ride and handling, the Z4 is ready to play in the same league as the Audi TT, Porsche Boxster and Honda S2000. And play it does!

To begin, the look of the Z4 is like nothing you've seen from BMW—or any other manufacturer for that matter. Its stylish body is comprised of a combination of geometric lines, long sweeping arches and sculpted sheet metal creases. Pictures cannot do the three-dimensional body justice and the Z4 is one of the rare creatures that actually appear completely different in the flesh than in print. We'll try to post the photos that best showoff the cars brilliance, but trust us; this is one model you'll have to reserve judgment on until you've visited your BMW dealer.

The Z4 is available in two trims: the 2.5 and 3.0 roadsters. A gutsy inline six-cylinder engine that produces 184 horsepower drives the base 2.5 models; the high-performance 3.0's inline six delivers 225 screaming ponies to the pavement below. While the 2.5 can best be summed up as a quick, fun to drive roadster the 3.0 must be viewed as something much more menacing. With its aggressive 18-inch wheels, additional 1-inch suspension drop and stiffer springs and shocks, the Z4 3.0 might just as well be wearing an M-badge. But be warned, this car is meant for the enthusiast. Its ride is considerably stiffer than that of the 2.5 and its price tag can easily climb into the high $40K range.

The two models do share many commonalities, including standard run-flat tires (there is no spare tire on the Z4), side-impact airbags, a sport suspension package option and later in the model year, an optional SMG 6-speed transmission. The SMG (Sequential Manual Gearbox) operates like a manual transmission but does not require the use of a clutch pedal. Unlike the Steptronic automatic, which allows you to shift on your own or let the transmission function as a normal automatic, the SMG will not shift gears until you tell it to, just like a manual. Gear changes can be made by shifting the gearshift knob.

If you've owned or even driven the previous Z3 model, you will observe a world of difference in the new Z4. The car tracks better, its rear end stays in line and its front end seems almost impervious to understeer. The temptation to accelerate while rounding tight corners is overwhelming and will no doubt leave your white-knuckled passengers requesting to be dropped-off at the next bus station. But if they were sitting where you are, they'd be less worried. That's because you and the car feel as one, and the Z4 lets you know its limits via feedback through the electronic steering system, the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and the tenacious four-wheel disc brakes.

After spending a day in the Z4, we'd have to say that on the "life is good" scale, a drive in the Z4 ranks right up there with the discovery of the fountain of youth and the complete abolition of income taxes.

What awaits you inside the new Z4 is a completely new dash concept for BMW. Gone is the Z3's solid black plastic instrument panel with its chrome trim rings, cluttered center stack, and visible dash-mounted airbag door. In its place resides a graceful, clean dash, nearly devoid of seams, with its airbag and glove box door hidden from sight. The audio and ventilation controls have been simplified and integrated into the dash design. A wide center console and new three-spoke thick-grip steering wheel complete the design. The seats in the Z4 are also new, with wider seat bottoms and better lower back and side support; they also feature two integrated roll bars located just behind the headrests. Base model cars receive a six-way manual seat while the 3.0 gets an 8-way power seat. The soft top features a glass rear window and is manually operated, though a power top is optional.

Among the many standard features on the Z4 are remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, dual power mirrors, leather-wrapped tilt/telescopic steering wheel, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system and air conditioning. Options are numerous and include Bi-Xenon headlamps, navigation system, Bose Audio along with a number of wheel and tire choices.

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