2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is Review – The perfect solo getaway car

BMW Expert Reviews

2011 BMW Z4 xDrive35is white side-turn marker


As I mentioned previously, cornering in the Z4 sDrive35is is lots of fun. With its adaptive M suspension and Dynamic Stability Control with a whole slew of features like Brake Fade Compensation and Start-off Assistant, the Z4 sDrive35is sticks to the road like glue. I must admit, though, that most of the time when I drove the car I was in Sport+ mode with the traction control turned off. Doing so will give you more of a go cart experience which, needless to say, offers you a much more rewarding driving experience. But don’t be too worried, this is a German car after all, and the computers are ALWAYS on, even if you think it’s off. The traction control still kicks in when necessary so stupid test drivers don’t wrap themselves around a light pole. Maybe that’s why BMW chose to use a bright red Z4 sDrive35is for the tester, so these auto journalists are a little more careful on the road.

2011 BMW Z4 xDrive35is


I liked the styling of the original Z3 back in the day, it had a sort of retro feel to it with the 507-ish side vents and the lines were fairly clean. Then along came the first gen Z4 with the then-standard BMW flame surface styling. Hideous. I’m glad BMW got some of their sense back and went more conservative and reasonable with the second gen design. It’s still no looker, with too much front overhang and non-descript headlights. The rear deck looks good, with 6 series-like taillights but much smoother looking. They’re much better than the weird first-gen tail lights. The folding hardtop looks quite good in place, the car can pass for a coupe, no problem. It also folds nicely out of the way for a clean drop top look. The optional 19” alloy V-spoke wheels give the tester Z4 sDrive35is an aggressive stance.


At $64,225 with options like keyless entry, heated seats, iPod adapter and satellite radio, the Z4 sDrive35is is certainly not cheap. It costs over $15,000 more than the standard Z4 sDrive30i but it’s hard to tell the difference from the outside. Not everyone will notice the subtle M markings on the car or the 35is marking on the sides. But you wouldn’t buy this car just so people will notice, right? You bought it for the performance, of course.

So can you get another two-seater roadster with similar performance at similar prices? Actually, yes, there are a few options out there. There’s the Mercedes-Benz SLK350 that starts at $53,300 and offers almost as much performance with 300 hp. The SLK55 AMG MSRPs for $66,650 and offers you the insane 5.5L V8 with 355 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque, although it’s 0.1 sec slower to 60. But at least when you see the AMG, you know it’s an AMG. The most interesting comparison is the 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder PDK(Porsche Doppelkupplung, or dual-clutch automatic), which MSRPs at $64,620 and offers almost identical performance numbers as the Z4 sDrive35is. It definitely looks markedly different than the more pedestrian Porsche Boxster S, and is a mid-engined sports car. In other words, the Z4 sDrive35is has competition that is serious and does not a great value make.

2011 BMW Z4 xDrive35is

Who should buy it?

The styling is what sets the Z4 sDrive35is apart from the other German competitors. The SLK looks like a midget with a nose that’s supposed to resemble a jet airplane intake. The Porsche Boxster Spyder is a mid-engined sports coupe with a soft drop top. The Z4 sDrive35is is the only one with the traditional short backend, long-nose phallic shape and not overly raked windscreen. So if you’re more nostalgic and love to say you drive a “Bimmer,” the Z4 sDrive35is is for you.


The Z4 sDrive35is was a breath of fresh air into my diaper-soaked life. It is very fast and fun in the corners, and I actually really enjoyed the open air with the top down. I had the throttle fully open almost the entire time I was in the car, and the experience was definitely memorable. At over $61,000, though, the Z4 sDrive35is faces a lot of formidable competition. But it definitely wins the longest name award.

RATING 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0 3.5 3.5 4.5/A-

2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is First Impressions: 2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is
Rating: 4.5 stars
By Derek Mau

Performance was impressive, handling was sharp as a razor, and driving dynamics were more engaging than Betty Davis’ eyes.

2010 BMW Z4 2010 BMW Z4 sDrive35i Review – Roadster
Rating: 4.0 stars
By Kurt Gensheimer

“It perfectly blends the serenity of highway driving in a luxury hardtop coupe with the open top fun of a weekend roadster… So from an everyday driver perspective, the Z4 is a must drive.”

2008 BMW Z4 2008 BMW Z4 Roadster 3.0si Review – The Perfect Second Car
Rating: 4.2 stars
By Alex Kramer

“With perfect 50-50 weight distribution and a surprisingly stiff chassis for a convertible, the Z4 makes carving switchbacks an absolute delight. Add in the supremely sticky Bridgestone Potenza tires and responsive, fade-free brakes, and you have a recipe for cornering precision.”

Photo Galleries:
2011 BMW Z4 | 2010 BMW Z4 | 2008 BMW Z4

BMW USAThe official BMW of North America website – www.bmwusa.com

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