We’ve recently seem some spy shots of BMW testing out its latest Z Roadster, the upcoming BMW Z5. But the Z5 is just the latest …
We’ve recently seem some spy shots of BMW testing out its latest Z Roadster, the upcoming BMW Z5. But the Z5 is just the latest in a long line of superb BMW Z cars. The very very first BMW Z was technically the BMW Z1 and now we’re about to see a Z5, so we’ve seen few of these Z Roadsters and they’ve all be pretty fantastic in their own ways. So let’s take a look back at each one and see which is best, shall we?
As mentioned before, the Z1 was BMW’s very first Z-labeled car and it was a petite, two-door roadster built on a bespoke chassis with composite assets panels and the entire figure could be taken off of the chassis. But it’s main party chunk was its door operation. Instead of opening outward, like almost every single automotive door in history, the doors actually slide down into the chassis of the car, just enough to permit ingress. Very likely ungraceful ingress, but ingress nonetheless. The Z1 used the engine, transmission and front suspension from the BMW 325i, so it was fairly quick and nimble. It was supposedly a pretty joy car to drive, aided by its quirky looks and funny doors. Overall, the BMW Z1 is the very first Z car and one of the most interesting.
After the Z1 came the BMW Z3, a car made famous by being featured as a James Bond car in Goldeneye. The Z3 was built on the E36 three Series chassis, making it larger and more competent than the Z1 that preceded it. It also had a suite of engine options available, ranging from petite, 1.8 liter four-cylinder engines all the way up to the Three.Two liter I6 engine in the Z3 M. Speaking of the Z3 M, that’s one of the most iconic M cars ever made, according to many BMW enthusiasts, especially the Coupe variant. The BMW Z3 M Coupe and Roadster were little rockets, as the big M3 engine was far more powerful than its lightweight assets needed. Plus, its compact size made it an absolute go-kart in the treating department. But M variant or not, the BMW Z3 was one of the most joy roadsters of the time, acting almost as a BMW-badged Mazda Miata, which is a compliment.
Inbetween the BMW Z3 and Z4 came the utterly infrequent BMW Z8. The Z8 was designed by Henrik Fisker and is one of the best looking BMWs of all time. It’s absolutely gorgeous and has a classic sports car look that’s intoxicating. The BMW Z8 was also a Bond car. It also had the same Four.9 liter V8 that powered the E39 BMW M5 and the same six-speed manual. So it certainly has a hot-rod quality to it. While the Z8 wasn’t the most nimble of cars, it’s a truly excellent car to drive and tremendous joy in its own right. It’s on the brief list of best BMWs of all time, but it was sold in such limited numbers and is still so expensive that not many have driven it.
Following the strong 2nd act of the BMW Z3 came the Z4. The BMW Z4 was thicker, quicker, more competent and better looking. In fact, the first-generation BMW Z4 was fairly the looker at the time, with a very old-school look. It’s long fetish mask and brief rear deck evoked sports cars of the 1950’s and the driver was almost sitting on the rear axle. This gave it a feeling of almost swiveling around your hips. The BMW Z4 also had its own M variant, the Z4 M, which also came in Coupe or Roadster form. However, the Z4 M was a bit more of a handful to drive. This did made it tremendous joy, however, and it would waggle its tail out on directive. Overall, a very joy car to drive.
The BMW Z4 received a 2nd generation, after the first-gen’s enormous success, which is our current generation. The second-gen Z4 grew even more in size and got even better looking. However, again, it lost some of the sharpness and nimbleness that defined its earlier generations. It became more of a traditional roadster, in that it was more about top-down cruising than being an all-out sports car without a roof. Having said that, however, the second-gen Z4 was still a fine car to drive and could certainly be joy when you dreamed it to. There’s been no M variant of this current-generation and there won’t be in the future, as it’s about to be substituted. There was a Z4 sDrive35is, which was pretty quick and joy, but it was no M car. Overall, the current Z4 is a superb looking car, even however it’s getting a bit old, and has excellent classic roadster driving dynamics.
Soon, the BMW Z5 will substitute the current Z4 and will likely be lighter, quicker and far more capable than the car it substitutes. Will it be better? Only time will tell. But it has a lot to live up to, as all of its predecessor have been excellent cars. But which of those preceding BMW Z cars is the best?