Test Drive: 2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is

VOICE OVER: Miranda Lightstone
How can you not fall in love with the two-seater Z4? The moment you see its sporty little get-up and low-to-the-ground stance, you yearn to get behind the wheel – and once you're there, you don't want to leave. Possibly one of the best-looking convertibles on the road today, BMW's Z4 isn't just a looker; it's a blast to drive too. Just don't bring it grocery shopping. In this video, spends a week behind the wheel of this sporty hardtop convertible and shows you why we think it's great – even though it isn't one of the most practical cars on the road.


For 2011, BMW changed the lines of the Z4 ever so slightly. Each year the Z4 gets a little bit sleeker, a little bit more sophisticated and smooth. It’s hard to believe a car this good looking could look any better, but it’s happening. The sloping front nose and stubby back end are perfectly in proportion thanks to the designers at BMW. Subtle side flares and a line that flows perfectly from nose to tail means this car is a joy to look at from any angle, and with or without its roof on.

The hard-top design of this convertible means that when the top is up, the shape of the car is maintained. Often, with soft-tops, the cloth roof makes the car look sunken in on top; as if the roof is kind of caving in on the driver and passenger. However, with a hard top you not only help maintain the rigidity of the car (something convertibles are known for) but you also maintain the lines and look.

Inside the Z4 is a minimalist as you’d imagine in a two-seater convertible. There’s very little storage space save for a compartment for a few bottles of water or your sunglasses (necessary in a drop-top) and the glove box. Thankfully, BMW thought to integrate a few more cupholders in the Z4, something that was sorely missing in previous generation models. Now, your passenger no longer has to risk having your hot cup of coffee perched precariously over his left knee in the sole cupholder. While simple, the interior suits the Z4 to a tee, and where the radio used to be just a small LCD screen, there is now a pop-up full entertainment system that emerges from the dashboard with a full iDrive system.


I love driving the Z4. One of the best parts is the fact that you are so close to the exhaust, you’re basically sitting on top of it. With the top down, you’re treated to an aural symphony of exhaust notes that BMW specially engineered for the Z4 only. The specially tuned, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six cylinder engine pushes out 335 horsepower which might not seem like a lot, but with a car that’s so light, you’ll feel like you’re flying when you push that throttle to the floor. The engine is paired with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, and while it’s nowhere near as sophisticated as Porsche’s PDK, it is still an impressive transmission to drive.

Rear-wheel drive and lively, the Z4 sDrive35is is a spirited convertible that’s just fantastic to drive with the top up or down – but I have to say I prefer the top down. That’s what it was made for after all.