Fun to drive!
Intermittent bulb behind heater controls. Easily replaced.
Parking brake rattles over bumps. Dealer tightened, which helped a little, but they said it is a common problem on this and the E30 3-series.
Serpentine belt squeaks at idle. Dealer says there is a common problem with the hydraulic tensioner, but it doesn't lead to worse problems and is likely to return, so doesn't recommend fixing.
Top leaked a LITTLE (drips) at the front windshield in the rain. I fixed this with some tips in the on-line forums.
Wood in dash starting to split, but not bad enough to replace. Dealer said $400 for part, so I'll go to a gunsmith to replace when it fails to get some wood of my choosing.
Auto up power windows sometimes stop 3/4 of the way up, and you have to push the button again (I've hard this is common on E36 3-series too)
Clutch pedal squeaks. Dealer will lube with WD40 and say it is "within tolerances".
Occasionaly, CD changer won't eject and takes some fiddling.
This may seems like a long list and sound discouraging, but they are all little things. I haven't had any major problems, and the scheduled maintenance is as close to zero as you'll find.
Purchased the car from local dealer as a CPO. I'll start by saying the CPO was a waste of money. It was delivered with some minor problems that should have been resolved before delivery. I never had any problems covered under the CPO warranty.
Gas mileage isn't great (probably 20-25 mpg), and probably seems worse than it is because the gas tank is only about 13 gallons.
Tires are about $700 a set and don't last too long. However, I won't skimp because my wife used to have a Miata with cheaper sport tires and it would slide and peel out in a barely wet road. My Z3 with the stock ContiSport tires or my current Good Year Eagle F1s is hard to get into a slide on a pile of wet leaves even with traction control off. Wet or dry, it handles GREAT.
I wouldn't consider myself handy, but have found the Z3 a pleasure to work on. Everything is very accessible and the parts are heavy and easy to disassemble. You won't have to bother too much with that though because scheduled maintenance is minimal, especially compared to the Miata.
What I like the most is what some car magazines complained about - very low door sills. You are more exposed in this car than any new convertible you can buy today; probably because of crash standards. When you test drive, just set your left arm on the sill and you'll see what I'm talking about.
The steering wheel is not adjustable, and it's pretty big for a car this size. I like it because it is easy to control and has great feedback. However, shorter drivers might find it hard to reach the 12:00 position. Also no place to rest your right arm. I ordered an aftermarket armrest for $50 that worked very well. Seats don't have enough padding for long trips. I got some lumbar pillows for occasional three hour trips.
3.0 liter gets better gas mileage than the 2.5 because it has a 6 speed manual. With the 5 speed the 2.5 runs a bit high on the freeway according to the tach and the feel in the pedal. But that straight six purrs like a kitten all the way to red-line, so it doesn't seem to be a problem except for fuel consumption. I once took it from Seattle to Bellevue, WA 130mph the whole way in total control.
AC is very cold. Heater and seat heaters are very hot. A must in a convertible!
Trunk fits 1 medium size suitcase, or 1 set of golf clubs if you take the driver out of the bag and put in separately.
Bottom line, it does need more attention than a Honda and might not be a great daily driver, but the low slung roadster design with BMW suspension and straight six can't be beat for driving pleasure. Plus the chicks dig it!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 4th May, 2009