10 MINUTE GUIDE E86 Z4 3.0si
The Z4 Coupé still looks fresh and purposeful and while M versions look set to rise in price the ‘lesser’ 3.0si still looks like excellent value for money. Words: Bob Harper / Photography: #BMW
Why should you buy one?
Whisper it quietly but we actually preferred the 3.0si to the manic M Coupé when these cars were new – certainly if you were planning to use the car everyday the 3.0si was the better prospect. And there’s loads to like: sexy styling, excellent performance (sub six-seconds to 62mph) from its sonorous straight-six and that’s blended with surprisingly good economy and affordable running costs. The cockpit is a little snug and there’s not a huge amount of storage space, but if that’s not a worrying issue you should get searching for one now.
Launched in 2006 the #BMW-Z4-3.0si-Coupé
came in one flavour, so choosing a used example is straightforward. It came with the six-speed manual with a Sport auto as an option. Standard equipment was generous, with 17-inch alloys, electronically assisted Servotronic steering, a Sport button, front and side driver and passenger airbags, DSC+, run-flat tyres, electric mirrors, front fogs, headlight washers, metallic paint, auto air-con, brushed aluminium interior trim, one-touch electric windows, Oregon leather seats and a single CD player covered within its £31,400 price. A Sport model was also available at launch, adding 18-inch double-spoke alloys, anthracite headlining, M Sport seats, M Sport suspension and a three-spoke M leather steering wheel, costing £32,925. Options included the aforementioned automatic transmission, multi-function steering wheel controls, folding exterior mirrors, many different alloy wheels, auto-dimming mirrors, carbon leather trim, rear PDC, xenons, cruise, Business or Professional nav, Bluetooth, Logic7 speaker system, Comfort package and Nappa leather.
How much to pay?
The cheapest car we found was just under £5000. Admittedly it had done over 200k miles but it had been with the same owner since 2008. At the other end of the scale, 3.0sis still occasionally crop up at main dealers and these cars can be priced up to around £15k which we’d reckon is too much to pay given you can still bag a Z4 M Coupé for that sort of money. Choose the middle ground and you should be able to find a low(ish) mileage example that’s been well looked after for less than £10k.
What goes wrong?
We are happy to report that the short answer to this question is not a lot. Generally speaking the N52 straight-six that’s used in the Z4 Coupé is a pretty reliable unit and even as mileages rise it seems to have very few issues.
They don’t tend to use much oil and just about the only thing the engine is known for is a bit of a ticking from the top end which comes from the hydraulic valve actuators. BMW tried several fixes over the years with mixed success, but the noise doesn’t seem to affect the reliability of the unit. Running problems are most likely to be down to dodgy coils, but as this unit is pre-direct injection you’re far less likely to have any injector faults compared to some later units.
A few suspension components are a little less durable than you might like – rear springs in particular fail like clockwork but aren’t expensive and rear shock mounts can collapse. The front control arms are similar in design to the E46 so these can fail over time too. It should feel tight and clonk-free on the road, so get it checked if you’re at all unsure. Inside, check the steering doesn’t feel like it’s sticking at all – most likely to rear its ugly head in hot weather – as the only surefire fix is a new steering column assembly. If the car has sat nav then check the fold-out screen works smoothly as failed units need to be replaced. Also listen out for rattles on a road test – the Z4’s cockpit wasn’t especially well put together and you may find it can be a little creaky, and while it’s irritating, most problems can be sorted if you don’t mind putting the effort in.
Road tax costs £159.50 for six months and £290 for 12 – pretty decent for a 3.0-litre sports coupé and servicing shouldn’t cost the earth either. BMW’s value service menu quotes £189 for an oil service and microfilter, £269 for an Inspection 1, £429 for an Inspection 2 and £62 for a brake fluid change. New brake pads can be had from a main dealer for £129 or £119 front and rear respectively. Specialists may be able to beat these prices, but the bottom line is that the 3.0si doesn’t have the ‘M Tax’ that you get when it comes to sourcing parts for the more powerful Z4 M.
As standard the 3.0si came with run-flat tyres, but we’d recommend binning them as it transforms the way the car rides and handles. For an SE on 17s you should be able to get a set of good boots fitted for about £300 and for the Sport on 18s that will rise to around £450.
With a relatively low purchase price, sexy styling and reasonable running costs we love the Z4 3.0si Coupé. It’s refined and composed when you’re out for a cruise yet can lift up its skirts and fly when the mood takes you. As a used buy it’s an absolute cracker.
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-E86
Z4 3.0si / #BMW-Z4-3.0si-E86
ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve
MAX POWER: 265hp @ 6600rpm
MAX TORQUE: 232lb ft @ 2750rpm
TOP SPEED: 155mph (electronically limited)
0-62MPH: 5.7 seconds (6.0)
ECONOMY: 31.7mph (31.4)
EMISSIONS: (CO2): 213g/km (216)
PRICE: SE £31,400; Sport £32,925
Figures in brackets for automatic transmission