- Engine Option 1: 1.8 L M43B18 I4
- Engine Option 2: 1.9 L M44B19 I4
- Engine Option 3: 2.0 L M52B20 T I6
- Engine Option 4: 2.2 L M54B22 I6
- Engine Option 5: 2.8 L M52B28 I6
- Engine Option 6: 2.8 L M52TUB28 I6
- Engine Option 7: 3.2 L S52B32 I6 (USA only)
- Engine Option 8: 3.2 L S50B32 I6 (non-USA)
- Engine Option 9: 2.5 L M52TUB25 I6
- Engine Option 10: 2.5 L M54B25 I6
- Engine Option 11: 3.0 L M54B30 I6
- Engine Option 12: 3.2 L S54B32 I6
- Curb Weight: 1,160 kg – 1,350 kg
- Size: L 4,026 mm x W 1740 mm x H 1280 mm
Back in 1996, BMW wanted to come with an answer to Mazda’s insanely popular Miata. Thus, the Z3 was born! The problem is that even until this day, not many manufacturers managed to come close to the perfect specifications of the Miata, but this little BMW has something specific for it, the M version.
The story behind the regular Z3 isn’t all that interesting. In general, no matter what version we’re talking about, you can say that it’s a basic roadster. Well built, looks good, handles well, trunk space a problem like always and a very simple interior.
But the M Coupe has a very interesting story. It was created by a few BMW Engineers that stayed after work. They thought that if they would fit the E46 M3 engine into this tiny and stiff roadster body, then something magical will happen. And yes it did, thus the M3 Coupe was born.
With a few modifications to the suspension and brakes, and a fixed roof for extra stiffness, this car turned out to be better than the MX 5. It has a very impressive 100 – 0 km /h in under 3 seconds, acceleration is on par with the M3 E46, but only because the higher ups at BMW decided to detune the engine to about 315 bhp and gave it longer gear ratios, otherwise it would’ve been faster than the M3.
For the other models, one the best engines that you can choose is the M54B30. At 2.9 L, this is the largest M54 engine and with a decent power of 230 bhp and it can be your budget Z3 M Coupe. Also, you can enjoy the wind in your hair, as all of the non-M versions have a foldable roof.
It’s very hard to find a good condition BMW Z3 on the second hand market, especially the M version. Currently, the prices are starting to go up for the M Coupe because its considered a future classic in the BMW range.
Also, always check the Vanos system for all the BMW models. Its problems can range from cheap to very expensive.
The Z stands for Zukunft, which means Future in German. However, the only problem is that the Z3 was discontinued in 2002 and has been replaced with the Z4, which, in our opinion, doesn’t look as good and it is a little heavier.
We don’t really like the excess of chrome used in the interior. It probably looked OK back in the mid 90s, but today it looks a bit tacky. Otherwise, the interior is pleasant, simple and well made, typical for a mid 90s BMW.
Although we praised the brakes for their stopping power, they could use a little more feel.
The Z3 is a very nice car. Overall, is well made and if you go for the engines we specified, you will have a blast on any Sunday drive. Or any drive in general, come to think about it.
What others say
http://www.edmunds.com/ – “The Z3’s romance with the public proved to be long-lasting”
http://www.caranddriver.com/ – “In the Sohio whoop-de-dos, the M roadster exhibited go-kart responsiveness. The driver sits way back near the rear axle for nearly perfect weight distribution, so there’s a sense of swinging the nose into turns.”