BMW Z4 Review: Buying used

By: Joe Kenwright

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Z4's flame-grilled look was the best example of BMW's new styling language

BMW Z4 Review: Buying used
Buying used: BMW Z4




BMW again opted for the traditional long-bonnet, short-boot, front-engine, rear-drive sports car layout for its new North Carolina-built Z4. Less compromised than the Z3, the Z4 arrived here in July 2003 with one of the stiffest platforms in its class and sophisticated multi-link, independent rear suspension. Styling reflected BMW's latest 'flamed' surface look and side-sculpting recalled early Healeys and Corvettes. The distinctive 'twin-tube' instrument binnacle separated it from other BMW interiors.

Local models included the 2.5i with the 141kW/245Nm M54 2.5-litre six with a five-speed manual or auto, and the 3.0i six with 170kW/300Nm and choice of six-speed manual or five-speed auto. Both engines offer involving performance with handling to match. The electric steering's lack of feel and twitchiness, and the harsh ride, especially on 19-inch run-flats and sports supension, were the main criticisms.

The E85 range was heavily revised in April 2006 with the latest magnesium-alloy block N52 engines. The new 2.5si now had 160kW/250Nm and the 3.0si 195kW/315Nm, both with six-speed transmissions. The 2.5si picked up the previous 3.0i brake package as the 3.0si gained bigger stoppers, plus new taillights and front fog lights. A wild 3246cc Z4 M roadster with 252kW/365Nm (six-speed manual only) lobbed with the '06 facelift, followed by a coupe when other coupes joined the range. US production ended in September '08 before the new German-built E89 series arrived in May '09 with evolutionary styling that avoided the radical shift from Z3 to Z4.


Early 2.5i models start in the low $20,000 range but usually have high kays. The 3.0i fetches an extra $3-4500. The last of the early 2.5i series peaks at just over $30,000 and the '06 facelift starts in the mid-$30K range. The last and most desirable 3.0si examples span $45-50,000. Coupes fetch $2000 less. The slightly mad Z4 M roadster will require $55-70,000.

Z4 in-line sixes are much more reliable than earlier BMW sixes, but now getting to the age where engine plastics such as thermostat housing and radiator header tank need monitoring.

Regardless of what BMW or service interval says, oil must be changed no later than 10,000km with correct oil, otherwise sludging and terminal damage to hydraulic lifters will result.

Coolant must meet BMW standards and be changed according to the schedule to avoid cooling system failure and expensive engine damage.

Control unit for inlet manifold runners can fail and affect performance.

Moisture can get inside hood electrics. Any noise during hood operation pre-empts expensive failure as hood has to be removed to replace pricey parts.

Electric steering dictates big replacement bill if it fails as steering column and other parts have to be replaced. Check carefully for steering noise and unusual steering behaviour.

Headlights craze from local UV levels and can be expensive if polishing doesn't remove it.

Run-flat tyres are not cheap and generate extra ride harshness that can be intolerable if fitted with larger than standard wheels.

Broken cables in the window regulators are common and are fiddly to replace.

Check all leather and trim items for UV damage. Seats may be overdue for leather conditioner and can show serious scuffing on the bolsters in some examples.

 Thanks to Northern BM (03) 9499 3088.



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