As BMW's first mass-market roadster, the Z3 became known for its sleek style, impressive handling, and flawless power delivery. But aside from these features, this model was also known for being James Bond's companion in the intro of the 007 flick GoldenEye. Since the celebrity-like debut, car enthusiasts around the world clamored for the release of the Z3. Through the years, this model had various upgrades which made it more famous. Though it has already been discontinued, the Z3 remains to be one of the best vehicles in the automobile industry.
1992-1996: First model
When the first model of the BMW Z3 was first released, it was powered by a 1.9-L, M44B19, straight-four engine that could produce as much as 138 hp. Assembled and produced in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the Z3 was designed under the E36 platform. Thus, it was equipped with the E30's rear semi-trailing arm suspension which was considered outdated by some experts and car owners. Unfortunately, despite its impressive exterior, the first model of the Z3 had an interior design that was not up to par with the other BMW models. Nonetheless, the patents for the design were filed in 1994 in the US and Germany.
1997: Second model
To answer the car enthusiasts' demands for a better engine, BMW equipped the Z3 with a six-cylinder engine that was somehow similar to the M52 straight-six. Unlike its predecessor, the upgraded engine could produce as much 189 horsepower. And much to the delight of Z3 fans during this time, the new engine made the vehicle perform smoother and better. Also, as an additional safety feature and to improve the roadster's handling, the traction control system (TCS) or anti-slip regulation feature was made standard.
1998-1999: Third model
In 1998, BMW released the M Roadster. Tagged as the performance version of the Z3 and Z4 line, this model was sold with a 3.2-L S50B32 internationally and a 3.2-L S52B32 engine in North America. Along with the introduction of the M Roadster, the Z3 boasted standard rollover bars and well-bolstered sport seats. The next year, the Z3's 1.9-L engine was replaced with a more powerful 2.5-L straight-six engine that could generate as much as 170 horsepower. The coupe line was also introduced. Called the Z3 Coupe, this line featured a chassis-stiffening rear hatch area and the biggest six-cylinder engine. Also, all Z3 models became equipped with side airbags.
2000-2002: Final model
For the 2000 model year, the BMW Z3 saw several exterior and interior revisions. The three-spoke steering wheel was introduced along with other interior features. For the roadster, a refreshed center console was installed, and the tail was redesigned. Engine-wise, all engines were upgraded. The new engine line was composed of the 3.2-L S54B32, 2.5-L M54B25, 2.2-L M54B22, and 3.0-L M54B30. Before it was discontinued, the Z3 was sold with a five-speed automatic transmission that can shift manually. The following year, this vehicle was equipped with a CD player. Unfortunately, the Z3 was eventually discontinued to give way to the Z4.