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BMW Z4 ditches manual gearbox in mid-life refresh. Image by BMW.

BMW Z4 ditches manual gearbox in mid-life refresh
BMW has given the Z4 roadster a light refresh, and the manual is no more.
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What's all this about?

BMW has given its Z4 roadster a modest mid-life refresh, with a suite of small visual tweaks but little in the way of mechanical changes. The biggest change is probably the fact that the M Sport styling package is now standard across the board, even on the entry-level 2.0-litre four-cylinder models, and the manual gearbox is gone from the UK range.

So what's new?

BMW has made a small change to the structure of the line-up, as the Sport and M Sport model designations are being ditched in favour of sDrive20i for the basic 2.0-litre four-cylinder model, while the 3.0-litre straight-six range-topper will continue with the M40i badging. The mid-range, 2.0-litre sDrive30i version that was something of a sweet spot has been ditched from the UK line-up. In less administrative terms, that means the Z4 now gets sportier styling with three-section air intakes at the front, new side-sill contouring and a revised rear apron, as well as restyled air intakes for channelling oncoming air to the air curtains to reduce wheel arch turbulence.

Anything on the M40i?

Not specifically, but there are still a few changes across the range which apply to the M40i too. The kidney grille has been reworked with a new horizontal inner structure to give it a wider visual presence. New colour options — Portimao Blue, Skyscraper Grey and the delectable purple called Thundernight — have also made the cut. The Z4 now sits as standard on two-tone 18-inch alloy wheels, though another new Z4-exclusive option of 19-inch matte black rims with diamond-cut edging is available as well. Lastly, another new option is the addition of M Shadow Line lighting which blacks out the chrome-coloured elements inside each headlamp unit for a stealthier look. This is only an option if the also-optional adaptive LED headlights are chosen.

What's happened to the manual?

There were rumours that, like the six-cylinder Toyota’s GR Supra with which the Z4 shares its underpinnings, the M40i would also get a manual gearbox as an alternative to the eight-speed Steptronic transmission, but this hasn’t come to pass. Don’t rule it out in the future, but with the M40i making up 30 per cent of all Z4s sold worldwide, the absence of a manual likely isn’t affecting sales too badly. In fact, BMW UK has canned the manual gearbox altogether, preferring to offer the sDrive20i solely with an automatic transmission.

Any other mechanical changes?

Nothing that affects UK customers. Overseas, the sDrive30i now gets the M Sport suspension set-up as standard which brings with it firmer damping and sportier spring tuning, but as that car will not be available on these shores it matters little.

How much will it cost me?

Prices are set to start from just over £42,000 for the basic sDrive20i and rise to £53,720 for the cheapest M40i.

David Mullen - 22 Sep 2022

2023 BMW Z4 M40i. Image by BMW.2023 BMW Z4 M40i. Image by BMW.2023 BMW Z4 M40i. Image by BMW.2023 BMW Z4 M40i. Image by BMW.2023 BMW Z4 M40i. Image by BMW.

2023 BMW Z4 M40i. Image by BMW.2023 BMW Z4 M40i. Image by BMW.2023 BMW Z4 M40i. Image by BMW.2023 BMW Z4 M40i. Image by BMW.2023 BMW Z4 M40i. Image by BMW.    - BMW road tests
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