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BMW Z3 Roadster review

1996 - 2002 (change model)
Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 53.5
” An affordable used roadster with the emphasis on fun “

At a glance

Price new £18,835 - £35,845
Road tax cost £345 - £415
Insurance group 29 - 38
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Fuel economy Not tested to latest standards
Range 280 - 393 miles
View full specs for a specific version

Available fuel types


Pros & cons

  • Retro styling is distinctive
  • Feels genuinely minimalist and sporting
  • Comfort is better than you'd expect
  • Smaller engines are unexceptional
  • Boot space is restrictive
  • Build can feel cheap in places

Written by Richard Kilpatrick Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019


The rear-wheel-drive Z3 roadster was an upmarket alternative to a used Mazda MX-5 or MG TF. When new, it was neither as expensive nor as prestigious as the clever Mercedes-Benz SLK, but feels lighter and more involving to drive. Like the contemporary MX-5, the BMW Z3 took advantage of the 1990s trend for retro styling in a fun, fashionable way that appeals equally to men and women.

It’s not a particularly exciting drive with the smaller engines, but the six-cylinder 2.8 and 3.0 units transform it, if you want something clearly different from the Mazda.

As a used buy, the impressively low prices erode its value as a style statement, but is it a true sports car? It’s your decision, but plenty of buyers were sufficiently tempted to take the plunge, and there’s a large stock of used examples to choose from now.

BMW Z3 front view