Product Type: BMW cars
Newest Review: ... ball joints, bushes can all contribute to a slight vaguness and 'white lining'. I replaced the awful BMW front wishbone bushes with Poly b... more
52 Reg1.9 Z3
BMW Z3 1.9
Author Name: me
BMW Z3 1.9
Advantages: Great Looks - BMW badge - great engine - great gearbox - good residuals
Disadvantages: Uninspired handling - Doesn't like bad road surfaces- expensive
Read all the reviews before buying this car and repeatedly saw the 138hp 1.9 described as under powered. Quite how anyone thinks a small 2 seater sports car is underpowerd with almost 140 hp on tap seems a mystery.
I've owned a 1.6 MX5 before, with a lot less power, and found it great fun, as long as you kept to A or B back roads and drove hard, so I didn't take a great deal of notice.
Turned out the 1.9 is plenty pokey enough for us. The wife drives the car in the week and I get the odd blast in it when I can. Engine is smooth and reasonably torquey. Let it rev out and it starts to fly along. Sure a 6 cylinder Beemer is alway going to be that bit sweeter and more powerful - but you will pay for it at the pumps.
The reality today is that using the power properly in so many 'performance' cars is nigh on impossible. I've owned or had access to some serious cars in the past including the Saphire Cosworth, Nissan Skyline, M3 evo and more recently a 911 carrera. All these cars can rocket off the line but I know from experience that if you don't want to throw your licence away, the only advantage is a few seconds away from the lights. You can not use that all that power on todays roads effectively. (Remember a typical car needs about 40HP to maintain 70 mph on a motorway - so think how your going to use that 140Hp to the maximum and not get nicked!)
Another consideration is that the Z3 is a convertible. Convertibles with the top down aren't much fun at anything over 60-70mph. The whole point of the Z3 is top down, spirited driving - not trying to keep up with EVO's and the like and I'd say the 1.9 isn't bad at all in achieving that point. Get a good B road on a dry summer morning, top down and don't change up till you see the red line and a 1.9 driver on a 'mission' won't be far behind the Z3 M3 driver though I'd accept the M3 will be less work!
And thats what a small 2 seater sports car is all about - fun.
Which leads to another BIG Z3 point - handling. The Z3 is pretty good but never instills total confidence. Suspension, ball joints, bushes can all contribute to a slight vaguness and 'white lining'. I replaced the awful BMW front wishbone bushes with Poly bushes as soon as I bought ours, which probably improved matters two fold. But its still not brilliant when on anything except a perfect surface.
I suspect its little more than a feeling and the car will actually handle very well when pushed - it just doesn't FEEL as if it will. Having owned over 6 bemmers in the past - I can honestly say this is the worst beemer I've ever driven. Though I'm not comparing back to back , one of the over riding memories of MX5 ownership was just how brilliant the handling was at all times. I'd even suggest the MX is in a seperate league when it comes to handling.
Which brings me in a circle here. The 1.9 is capable of pushing the Z3 hard through the bends, but the handling never inspires. I find it hard to belive a much more powerful version could feel much better having the basically same suspension and handling set up. Doubt it or think I'm biased? Read the new owners postings on the Z3 forums.
No - driven hard, the 1.9 can easily keep up with most cars under most conditions. More importantly it can be fun. If you want a fun sports car then the Z3 will likely fit the bill. If you want a fast car, there much better out there.
Summary: Not a bad sports car - just think theres better out there.