A BMW Z4 manual is the kind of car really keen people want. It’s not that there’s anything wrong an automatic…we just want to do gears ourselves.
We’ve driven Z4s and we like them. The new platform might be a touch heavy, but with the 30i and a diff, it’s a nicely balanced car. In M40i spec, it’s a dead-set monster.
The time has come, though, with automatics making up the vast (and we’re talking 97%) of Z4 sales, to try a row-your-own. BMW is one of the few carmakers left with any genuine commitment to sporting manuals. Yep, you can buy little buzzboxes with a manual gearbox, but you can’t buy a manual Ferrari or Lamborghini.
A manual roadster is a classic so it’s nice to see BMW stepping in to the ring with a nicely sorted machine fitted with a clutch.
See the rest of our Z4 coverage here.
How much is a BMW Z4 manual and what do I get?
$87,900 + ORC
In 2020, BMW is not mucking about with pricing. On the flip-side, the company is loading up its cars with gear.
You get 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, electric heated front seats, sat nav, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, head up display, leather (and fake leather) trim, auto parking, powered and heated door mirrors, electric folding roof and a tyre repair kit.
BMW OS 7.0 continues on in the huge iDrive screen and you can run it with the rotary dial or touchscreen. The car I had didn’t have Apple CarPlay (or it didn’t work) which is fabulously irritating but it is standard, with an OS upgrade later in the year to add Android Auto.
Colours include Alpine White (freebie) and the rest are paid for. Like $2000 (!) for black sapphire, Misano Blue, San Francisco Red and Glacier Silver.
Frozen Grey is a whopping $6100.
Options and packages
Options include adaptive LEDs ($2200), Comfort Package (active cruise, lumbar support on the seats), 12 speaker harmon/kardon stereo ($800), M Sport brakes for $1400. Adaptive suspension on its own is $1100.
You can get the M Sport Plus package which throws in 19-inch wheels blue-painted brake calipers, adaptive dampers, tyre pressure monitoring and M seatbelts for $3500. The car in the pictures had the M Sport Plus package.
The Precision Package ($2600) bundles a 12-speaker stereo, ambient interior lighting and the adaptive LED headlights with auto high beam shadowing for $2600.
The Z4 arrives with four airbags, stability and traction controls, as well as the expected electronic stability controls, forward collision warning (FCW), lane departure warning (LDW), rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA), traffic sign recognition and rear collision warning.
There is no ANCAP safety rating, nor has EuroNCAP crashed it.
Given the Audi TT Spider got four stars and the Mazda MX-5 five stars, who knows how trustworthy that one is anyway. We’re actually getting to the point where four stars is actually pretty good, but that’s another story for another day.
Not having a crack at Mazda – no way –
Warranty and servicing
Three years/unlimited kilometre
Pre-paid service plans (5 years)
BMW is sticking to its pea-shooter warranty of three years/unlimited kilometres, although at the moment I think you’d find a two-year extension won’t cost you very much. Should be standard, though.
You do get the option of rather cheap (for a German brand) servicing, with the five year Basic Plan costing $1373 or the Plus at $3934 for the same period. Sounds like a lot, but that’s not bad considering what you get.
I quite like the four-cylinder Z4s because they’re the sort of car that you really drive. The six-cylinder is absolutely hilarious – a bucking bronco if you want it be or a super-smooth and fast weapon. Adjustable and fun, even if the balance is firmly in favour of the turbo six’s sledgehammer power.
The auto fours are very nice and balanced. Obviously you get shift paddles and you can make the changes yourself, but nothing beats a third pedal and slick gearbox to ensure ultimate involvement.
Let’s address the third pedal. Co-pilot Mark drove the car and wasn’t sure about its placement. There’s a running joke about my left leg, which is turned inwards due to being trapped in a womb with another human. He joked that it was probably perfect for me given that particular defect.
And I have to report, it was fine for me. Your mileage, obviously, may vary. But Mark also agreed that it didn’t really matter because it was so lovely to drive.
The 20i is the least powerful engine you can get in the Z4 but that doesn’t mean it’s slow. It’s also not over-tyred, so you when you’re threading the car through the fun stuff, it will react to your right foot as well as the steering wheel.
I might be imagining it, but I felt a lot more connected to the car than I have in the autos because when you’re not blatting along at maximum attack, the car comes to you a bit more and you can really enjoy it.
I say it a lot, but having a manual ‘box means there’s a mental workout you just don’t get in the autos. Sorting out the downshifts in particular is a joy in this car as the shift is just nice enough to be enjoyable and gives you the chance to learn how the engine revs and delivers its power.
Of course, in the typical BMW fashion, your elbow fouls the cupholders, but you can’t have everything in a car just three or four percent of buyers will choose.
Of course you should buy one if you can. And for two reasons.
One, BMW keeps making manuals when other carmakers are giving up on them. That’s a good thing because in the not-too-distant future when the internal combustion engine eventually dies, we’ll have no choice at all.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.