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8 Cars Similar to the BMW Z4 Roadster

Side view look of BMW Z4 Roadster car in a yellow color at car show.

Car and Driver never give out a rating of 10, but you know you found a winner when you spot a nine in its rankings. That’s what the venerable magazine awarded the BMW’s latest incarnation.

The automaker, long known for its luxury vehicles and exotic designs, brought all of its knowledge together to build the BMW Z4 Roadster, which looks like a jaunty James Bond-ish ride on the inside and outside. This gorgeous car appears racy in red or sleek and sophisticated in silver. Its basic black isn’t basic.

What makes it the winner of the luxe set, clearly comes down to price and performance. It doesn’t just provide looks. The lovely convertible starts at $49,900 and offers an upgraded version for $63,700.

The Roadster may seem to be in a class by itself, but it does have in-class competitors. BMW crafted a gorgeous gas-powered commuter car with an extra dose of class in the Z4 Roadster. Its entry-level vehicle earns 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

That might not sound impress now that people became accustomed to electrics, but this amazing vehicle should appreciate if it performs like its brethren. It could be one of the company’s last gas-powered roadsters, too, since some US states, such as California have already instituted a deadline by which automakers can only offer electrics.

This vehicle then could become one of the last of the Mohicans as the old saying goes. It doesn’t guzzle gas with its 2-liter, four-cylinder engine produces 255 horsepower and 295-pound feet of torque. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel driveline, you can tool around town in style and within budget.

As it is a roadster, it only seats two. Express your personality with its bevy of bright or muted colors. Racy red, bright blue, emerald green, sedate silver, or not-so-basic black all speak for you as you drive through town.

It manages to go from 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds, beating out the Porsche Boxster S and its 350 horsepower engine. While most car buyers probably don’t think in terms of collection building, if you do plan to keep a car and add it to a growing garage, this roadster could make an ideal choice. You can use it now and bank on it going up in value.

Because the manufacturer cared about fuel efficiency, you can drive a speedy convertible sports car without it costing a lot to fill up. If you do mostly highway driving, such as for a commute, you can expect to save money driving this vehicle versus most other sports cars.

While you probably aren’t planning to haul lumber if you typically drive a sports car, you can grocery shop in this vehicle. It offers a 9.9 cubic feet trunk. If that sounds tough to visualize, think of a chest freezer. They’re the same size. That’s plenty big enough for a family’s groceries for a week or so and the dry cleaning.

You can find alternatives to BMW’s roomy roadster, however, let us set you up for a tough search. This little roadster tops many lists, in fact, on Edmund’s luxury convertible list, the BMW Z4 is the only affordable vehicle. Let us help you get started with a quick list of our favorites, starting with our top three, then providing the runners-ups.

1. Toyota GR Supra

In the International Motor Show, a brand-new Toyota Supra GR sports car is on display.

The GR Supra competes with the Z4 Roadster in price, starting at $43,540. The GR Supra and the Z4 twin when it comes to horsepower and torque from the engine and earn similar fuel efficiency ratings.

Why It’s Similar to the Z4 Roadster

Maybe you’re not into status. Perhaps you want a bit of speed and some great handling. The gas mileage of 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway means this little import provides comparable value. The two vehicles accelerate from 0 to 60 at nearly the same sped – 3.9 seconds.

You can seat two in the vehicle and the trunk on this car gives you a little more room with 10.2 cubic feet.

Vehicle Design Observations

The GR Supra provides a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque on its standard model. The automaker offers a few options for increasing speed and efficiency plus interior and exterior looks. This drives up the price to near $60,000.

Speed/Time for 0 to 60 miles per hour: 3.9 seconds

Horsepower: 255 hp

Torque: 295 lb. ft.

Base Model Cost: $43,540

Seating Capacity: two

Fuel Efficiency: 20 mpg in the city/26 mpg on the highway

Towing Capacity: not designed for towing

2. Porsche Boxster S

The Porsche Boxster S is a car that is on display at the international motor show.

Forget bargain shopping when it comes to the Porsche competition. The BMW might go faster but it also costs far less. The Porsche Boxster S starts at $100,100.

It offers a more powerful engine but that doesn’t mean better performance. Porsche has its name recognition as a sports car maker, but BMW outdid it this time.

Why It’s Similar to the Z4 Roadster

Both vehicles seat just two people. Each uses rear-wheel drive. This vehicle also can’t be used for towing. That is where the sameness stops.

Vehicle Design Observations

The Porsche offers a 4-liter, six-cylinder engine that can go from 0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds. If you want transmission choices, you have two – seven-speed automatic and six-speed manual. That makes this choice attractive to those who enjoy the racecar feel of a sports car.

The standard engine produces 394 horsepower.

Speed/Time for 0 to 60 miles per hour: 4.2 seconds

Horsepower:  191 hp

Torque: 181 lb. ft.

Base Model Cost: $100,100

Seating Capacity: Two

Fuel Efficiency: 21 mpg in the city/22 mpg on the highway

Towing capacity: not designed for towing

3. Mercedes-Benz SLC 300

The International Motor Show featured the Mercedes-Benz SLC 300 automobile.

Like the previous entry, this Benz can’t touch the Z4 Roadster in price. BMW outdid itself there. The vehicle costs more than twice what the Z4 does but offers no more cachet than its competition.

Why It’s Similar to the Z4 Roadster

Both vehicles fall into the same class, and their engines produce about the same. The Benz uses a 2-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 241 horsepower and torque of. They earn twin gas mileage of 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

Vehicle Design Observations

The car only offers one configuration, limiting its customization. It offers one transmission – a nine-speed automatic and a driveline of rear-wheel drive.

Speed/Time for 0 to 60 miles per hour: 5.8 seconds

Horsepower: 241 hp

Torque: 273 lb. ft.

Base Model Cost: $135,000

Seating Capacity: Two

Fuel Efficiency:  23 mpg in the city/32 mpg on the highway

Towing capacity: not designed for towing

Runners Up to the Top Three

If you didn’t find the next car of your dreams in the top three vehicle alternatives to the BMW Z4 Roadster, keep reading. We located other BMW Z4 Roadster alternatives, too.

4. Audi TT Roadster

At the Motor Show, an Audi TT Roadster cabriolet sports car was displayed.

Audi competes in price better with its TT roadster starting at $51,200. It twins on gas mileage, offering 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. It uses a standard-sized engine of 2 liters and four cylinders that goes from 0 to 60 in 7.1 seconds.

Its engine produces 228 horsepower and 258-pound feet of torque. The seven-speed automatic transmission offers the only choice in that feature, and you get no choice in driveline. It comes with all-wheel drive.

Related: 14 Cars Similar to the Audi TT

5. Mercedes-Benz C 300 Cabriolet

Fron shot of white Mercedes-Benz C 300 Cabriolet sports car display at motor show with mercedes benz logo at the back.

Of the two model trims the entry point C-class comes closest to the Z4. Its $56,500 starting price makes it slightly more expensive. It offers comparable gas mileage though, earning 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

It offers a mid-range engine of 2.0-liters with four cylinders that produces 255 horsepower and 273-pound feet of torque. The nine-speed automatic transmission offers the only choice in that feature, but you can choose from two drivelines – all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive.

The standard C 300 Cabriolet offers two upgraded engine choices – a 3-liter V6 and a 4-liter V8.

6. MINI Cooper Convertible John Cooper Works

A new MINI Cooper Convertible John Cooper Works driving on road with nature view at daylight.

MINI moved from just owning the love of Great Britain to getting the US love, too. Its latest convertible offers true Brit style and the fun drives US motorists search for in a car. If you only think of UK cars as stodgy, this one can change your mind.

Starting at a tiny sticker price of $40,650, it also provides awesome fuel efficiency, earning 24 in the city and 33 on the highway. It officially qualifies as a sub-compact car but offers a classy look and upscale interior. The standard 2-liter four-cylinder engine produces 228 horsepower and 258-pound feet of torque.

If you upgrade the engine and add the cold air intake upgrade, you can get the vehicle to produce more horsepower.

Related: 13 Cars Similar to the Mini Cooper

7. Chevy Corvette

A red Chevy Corvette parked at city street with other cars.

Starting at $60,900, the Chevy Corvette offers the definition of sports car. Its gas mileage doesn’t provide the same great performance of the BMW, but it does alright for a Vette, earning 16 mpg in town and 24 mpg on the highway. Its super powerful engine – a 6.2-liter V8 produces 490 horsepower and -pound-feet of torque.

You can upgrade the engine from there to one that produces 495 horsepower and -pound-feet of torque. You can only have an eight-speed automatic transmission in this vehicle which may seem odd consider its venerated sports car status. or a six-speed manual.

You can have rear-wheel drive in the Corvette and seat two people.

8. Mazda MX-5 Miata

The front end, grill, headlights, and wheel features of the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Starting at $27,650, the Miata offers a bargain in convertible two-seaters. Although Mazda doesn’t carry the clout of BMW, its design offers the sleek sophistication that many want in a roadster. It also beats most of the competition in gas mileage, earning 26 mpg in town and 35 mpg on the highway.

Its standard 2-liter four-cylinder engine produces 181 horsepower and -pound-feet of torque. You get two options in transmission – a six-speed automatic transmission or manual. This two-seater offers rear-wheel drive.

This zippy but not as zippy as the Z4 vehicle goes from 0 to 60 in 6.4 seconds. You can add some engine upgrades that will improve the speed to 0 to 60 of 6.0 seconds.

Related: 8 Cars Similar to Mazda Miata

Considerations When Buying a Roadster

On a warm day with Autumn Park in the background, a red BMW Z4 is parked on the street.

Buying a sports car and buying a roadster don’t mean the same thing automatically. That’s because many sports cars today offer a sports car design with four doors. That means you can seat four people or five.

The current Mustang design falls into the four seating capacity category. You can also get a Mustang that seats four but has two doors. A roadster only seats two people.

The word means a two-seater car meant for driving long distances. In the earliest days of vehicles, most cars were roadsters. It falls into the broad category of sports cars.

They typically go a bit faster and sport smaller trunks. You won’t see massive trunks on a roadster like those on a sedan. This means they make the ideal car for a single person or a couple without children.

They won’t work as a family car though. If you travel a lot on business and need to haul travel cases or tri-fold backdrops, such as those used at conferences and conventions, this type of car wouldn’t work. It has no backseat to fold down. The front two seats – usually bucket seats – provide the only seating area.

The only storage resides in the trunk. The storage tops out at ten cubic feet – the size of a free-standing chest freezer.

Frequently Asked Questions About Buying a Roadster

Everybody’s got questions when they shop for a new vehicle. That’s normal. This FAQ addresses the most common questions by people when trying to decide which sports car to buy.

How much horsepower do you need?

Close up photo of red BMW Z4 Roadster at motor show.

Is this your first vehicle purchase? Horsepower only matters if you really need it. When you use a vehicle to haul groceries or plants home from the store, you can have a vehicle with any horsepower. When you need to haul equipment, a boat, a camper, a trailer, or construction materials, you need horsepower.

The higher the horses, the more powerful the engine. So, all things considered, an engine that produces 300 horsepower works better than an engine that produces 175 horsepower. If you need fuel efficiency, typically, you should choose a smaller, less powerful engine because they usually get better gas mileage.

The term comes from the time before automotives. In the old days, horses drew carriages and trailers. When the auto got invented, its purveyors compared its engine performance to the number of horses required to haul the same amount of people and stuff.

Here’s the thing. Size and vehicle design also contribute to ability of a vehicle to tow. Roadsters aren’t meant to tow vehicles.

What do you typically tow?

A close-up photograph of a BMW Z4 roadster with a camouflage color scheme is displayed on the street.

If you typically tow anything, then a roadster isn’t your vehicle. Sedans can tow lower-weight items, but roadsters cannot. Their design isn’t intended for that.

The reverse works though. You can tow these small, lightweight vehicles. Let’s say you’re moving across country and need to drive.

You will probably save money by towing your roadster with your SUV or truck instead of gassing up both vehicles and driving them. Because roadsters weigh so little – typically less than 2,500 pounds of curb weight, you can easily tow them with a mid-sized truck or a moving van.

If you own or rent a truck that can tow up to 7,000 to 10,000 pounds, you can use a long trailer and tow both your boat and your roadster with the same vehicle.

Do you need a two- or four-wheel drive?

Some sports cars offer four-wheel drive but that’s typically higher-end vehicles. Most cheaper sports cars either offer rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. If you buy a roadster for the driving pleasure and want to race it, you need to look for a vehicle with four-wheel drive instead of all-wheel drive.

The two terms don’t mean the same thing. The four-wheel drive lets you control the front and rear wheels separately with your steering because of the axle design beneath. An all-wheel-drive design differs because you move all four wheels at one time in the same direction.

With four-wheel drive, the rear and the front wheels can move independently. That isn’t the case with all-wheel drive.