BMW Z3 (1996-2002): A Review

With a new James Bond film hitting the cinemas it is perhaps fitting to look back at a car that made its very public arrival when featuring with Pierce Brosnan in Golden Eye. The grand entrance didn’t disappoint at all and BMW’s first ever mass-market roadster was an overnight success story that ran and ran until the model was discontinued and replaced by the Z4.
It may no longer be available to buy as new but the sheer numbers sold of this model mean that it is still a highly visible presence on the roads today. It may have been retired but this is still a car that will turn heads today and will do less damage to the health of your bank balance than it did when flying off the production line in its heyday.

The Z3 continues to succeed today for the same reasons it did yesterday. Whilst this is undoubtedly a roadster that men will long to unleash on the open motorway, there is also a softness and style to its design that makes it as much a lifestyle choice as a full on drivers’ car. Its matching of style with power is one of the main keys to its success and explains why it is as popular with women drivers as men.

The differing engine sizes are all more than capable, as you would expect from BMW, but it is only truly the six-cylinder, 2.0 and above, versions which really bring the power to play that the ride deserves. Handling is great on all models and the journey is equally smooth whether the top is up or down, and this is certainly a safe car with plenty of grip.

This is definitely not the most perfect car in the world and the Z3 does have its weak points; the early models were pretty basic in terms of interior design and it is only in later models where you can really get that true BMW bling feel with fully-kitted options. However, the fact this particular model was built in the States rather than Germany had no effect on its overall reliability. The engine, gearbox, 
brakes, and all the other basics are as solid as you will find in any BMW, and running costs, including mpg and insurance, are relatively low on second-hand models. Happily sell on value is relatively high as you might expect from a car that was once good enough for James Bond!

In simple terms this is a no-brainer for anyone looking to dive into the roadster coupe market with a splash. It is true there are still more affordable options out there, but none of them look better than this baby, and none of them are a BMW.

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