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The Motorists' Guide

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  • BMW Z3

       (Overall rating from this review)
    A superb distance tourer but not entirely a slick handling sports car
    • Performance
    • Quality
    • Economy
    • Cost
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    Living with a BMW Z3 - I can honestly say I am completely biased ...'I love the Z3'

    Having bought my Z3 around 6 years ago, for what I can say was not a lot of money, and it was intended to be a summer folly and maybe sell it on at the end of the summer for around the same amount or possibly slightly less. But to drive it on a daily basis for the whole of the summer in the UK, would this be a recipe for disaster or a wise decision?

    Six years later, and I have no intention of ever selling it. Why? well, it owes me nothing and never puts a foot (or should that be tyre) out of place.
    After a layup in the garage during the last winter and the distraction of a mk1 MX5 during the summer, it hadn't had a lot of use in that time. 
    A quick check over and an MOT test (passed first time), she has gone on the road a bit earlier than expected with freezing temperatures but once more, she still refuses to play up and does exactly as it says on the tin!

    But why are Z3's such a reliable and well-built car? I think a lot of it has to be that BMW built cars extremely well in Bavaria during that period, but sadly, they seem to have lost their way with build quality over the years with global assembly plants and probably less rigid and strict quality controls.
    For a 19 year-old car, it is still as sturdy and tight as it was when it left the factory. 108,000 miles later and still with original major mechanical components still functioning as they should, it surely is a major testament to the BMW brand.

    Parts are plentiful, both new and used, and fitting the majority of serviceable components is a relatively easy task for most DIY owners.
    Modified parts are plentiful as well and you will probably never see two Z3's the same.


    Some faults are common on the engine ranges such as the Vanos seals failing on the 2.0 litre which results in lack of performance and economy along with an exhaust crackle which indicates the seals have hardened up and not allowing the oil pressure to build up in the valves as required. Replacement seals are relatively cheap and easy to fit, if not a little fiddly.

    Other common faults are brake light switch failure, suspension bushes wearing resulting in vague steering and questionable handling. Any of these faults are easy and cheap to rectify.

    The Z3M Coupe, however, is a completely different beast to the Z3 Roadster in so many ways. Stiffer chassis and a beast of an engine to complement the incredible and unique body styling.
    Bigger brakes, sporty interior and so much street cred it's the car to own for future investment and also as a useable daily driver.


    • Well built and superb quality, great tourer, timeless styling
    • Handling falls short on the Roadster, lack of centre armrest, roof leakage
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