BMW built a car so modern with the Z4 roadster that engine music echoed through the interior. To understand the strange appearance of this roadster, take a look at the Z3 it replaces. Produced from 1996 to 2002 as a replacement for the Europe-only Z1, the BMW Z3 is a rear-wheel drive two-door coupe and roadster.
Although it made its official debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 1996, many people first saw it in the 1995 James Bond film. Golden Eyein which 007 briefly drives a blue Z3 in Cuba.
The Z3 was very popular. The combination of low price and classic styling of the Z3 proved to be a winning combination. But the Z3 never won a comparison test after the streamlined Mercedes SLK, and the beautiful Porsche Boxster came on the scene.
Those competitors weren’t cheap, but they had sophisticated, refined expressions of the roadster idea, making the Z3 look like an old and outdated German roadster.
When the Z4 roadster debuted in 2002 for the 2003 model year, it was a major step forward from the Z3, its wildly successful predecessor. Indeed, the introduction of the Z4 was much more than a ‘successor replaces predecessor’ scenario since the new Z4 roadster BMW in a higher, more refined part of the roadster market.
The Z4 impressed customers with its signature Chris Bangle flamboyant style, which was larger all round than the Z3 and three times stiffer but barely heavier.
The driving position was also significantly improved, with a sleek, modern cockpit that seemed much more premium.
Let’s take a look at the most outstanding features of the 2003 BMW Z4.
The sleek, aerodynamic, open body of the 2003 BMW Z4
The Z4 showcased BMW’s new design language, including convex and concave surfaces, strong edges and gentle curves. It has all the typical roadster features, including a long and slim bonnet, long wheelbase with small overhangs, wide track and low center of gravity, all of which give it a purposeful, sporty look. BMW had increased the Z4’s luggage compartment to 260 liters, which is enough space for two huge bags.
‘Beauty comes from within’ isn’t just a phrase when it comes to the 2003 BMW Z4
The Z4’s front seats provide excellent thigh and upper body support. The matte black leatherette cover material has a soft, rubbery, tacky quality that glues the driver and passenger to the seat, all to keep them in place during snappy turns.
The three-spoke steering wheel, two deeply recessed round instruments under a raised glare screen and the flat metal cladding of the dashboard all contribute to the mildly retro vibe of the interior.
The radio and CD player have simple settings in the center of the dash, while the fan, temperature and ventilation controls are conveniently arranged below. The power window knobs on the doors are at a sharp angle. However, the power door lock button is located in the center console. A convenient pull-out cup holder is located just to the left of the handlebars.
The heated seats, a button to deactivate the Dynamic Stability Control, controls to raise and lower the convertible top and a tire pressure warning button are all located lower in the center console.
A long driveshaft tunnel runs through the center of the cab, and a high-mounted gear lever is right where it should be. A clever detail is the use of special rubber pads on the left and right sides of the tunnel to make the legs of the driver and passengers comfortable.
The Z4’s style isn’t all it has to offer; The driving experience is also a thing of joy
Besides the looks, the driving experience is one of the main reasons for the amazing quality of the Z4. BMW offered two six-cylinder engines for the Z4. The 3.0i has 231 horsepower and a top speed of 255 mph, while the 2.5i has 192 horsepower and a top speed of 146 mph. The Z4 3.0i has a six-speed manual transmission.
BMW offers its own SMG Sequential Manual Transmission as an option on both engine variants. This second-generation system features a modified six-speed transmission that allows the driver to change gears instantly using the gear selector or the paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
BMW built the Z4 with agility and handling in mind, aiming to set new standards in its class. The Z4 comes standard with a reworked BMW 3 Series rear axle, 50/50 front:rear weight distribution, fade-free high-performance brakes, run-flat tires and DSC III.
Dynamic Drive Control, or DDC, was new to the Z4 and was activated by pressing the ‘sport’ button on the center console. DDC allows the Z4 engine management system to produce an even sportier throttle response curve and adjust the handlebar weight for a more natural feel. This car was truly a spectacular creation, as BMW made it in the early 2000s.
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