It's hard to stop smiling - powerful, tuneful engines and sharp handling deliver a great driving experience
Cumbersome manual seat adjustment is the only distraction from a seriously lavish interior
Stability control to keep you on track; six airbags in case you get totally carried away. Good security features
BMW has an average record for mechanical reliability, but the Z4 hasn't had a great deal of positive feedback from owners
Cabin space is good, but if you want to fold the roof you'll need to think carefully about how many pairs of shoes you're packing
Big alloy wheels, MP3 connection and climate control are standard but cruise control, leather and Bluetooth cost extra
Prepare for cheek-ache - you're going to be doing a lot of smiling while driving the BMW Z4. Even the 'slowest' model is strong, flexible and fast enough for serious thrills. Adaptive Chassis Control allows you to adjust the settings depending on how sporty you're feeling and in every mode there's masses of grip, and a ride that's firm enough to feel secure without being uncomfortable. The hard top helps keep wind noise at bay and even with it folded away you're well protected from undignified hair-blowing. Road noise is a slight issue, however. The entry-level 20i version has a 181bhp 2.0-litre engine which pulls strongly from low revs, so there's really no need to stump up the extra for the more powerful 28i model, which uses a tuned version of the same engine to deliver 242bhp and a sub six-second 0-62mph time.
You feel pampered and generally fabulous from the moment you slide into the low-slung driver's seat of the BMW Z4. It's a shame the seat adjustment is rather fiddly, but once you're comfortable everything is positioned just where you need it. It's not the car for a two-week family camping holiday, unless you're a couple with a very minimalist approach to camping. With the roof up you should have enough room for a shopping trip or weekend luggage; boot space is restricted when it's folded away. Standard kit includes leather seats, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, a CD player with MP3 input and dual-zone climate control.
Owners rated the Z4's reliability as 'below average' in the most recent JD Power survey, which is disappointing. The Z4 hasn't been tested by NCAP, but stability control is fitted to keep you on the road if you lose control, along with four airbags if things go wrong.
Cars this good don't come cheap, but look on the bright side - if you can bear to sell it, resale values should hold up strongly. Running costs could be reasonable, particularly in the lower-powered versions, as long as you can resist thrashing it. For the money, few cars make you feel as special - only the Audi TT Roadster has the Z4 beaten.