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The Z4’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
The Z4 has standard BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.
Both the Z4 and the A3 Cabriolet have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the Z4 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Audi only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the A3 Cabriolet.
There are over 13 percent more BMW dealers than there are Audi dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Z4’s warranty.
The battery on the Z4 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the Z4’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The A3 Cabriolet’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th, below the industry average.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 8th.
The Z4 sDrive30i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 71 more horsepower (255 vs. 184) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 221) than the A3 Cabriolet 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The Z4 sDrive30i’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 27 more horsepower (255 vs. 228) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 258) than the A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The Z4 M40i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 154 more horsepower (382 vs. 228) and 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 258) than the A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.
Regenerative brakes improve the Z4’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW Z4, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the A3 Cabriolet.
For better stopping power the Z4’s brake rotors are larger than those on the A3 Cabriolet:
A3 Cabriolet 40 TFSI
A3 Cabriolet Quattro 45 TFSI
The Z4’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the A3 Cabriolet are solid, not vented.
For better traction, the Z4’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the A3 Cabriolet (F:255/35R19 & R:275/35R19 vs. 235/35R19).
The Z4’s standard 255/40R18 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the A3 Cabriolet’s standard 45 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Z4 has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the A3 Cabriolet.
The Z4 offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The A3 Cabriolet’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Z4 is 2 inches wider in the front and 2.9 inches wider in the rear than the track on the A3 Cabriolet.
The Z4 is 3.4 inches shorter than the A3 Cabriolet, making the Z4 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The design of the BMW Z4 amounts to more than styling. The Z4 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is lower than the A3 Cabriolet (.31) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Z4 get better fuel mileage.
The Z4 has 1.5 inches more front headroom and 1 inch more front legroom than the A3 Cabriolet.
The Z4 has a much larger trunk than the A3 Cabriolet with its top down (9.9 vs. 7.1 cubic feet).
With its convertible body style, valet key and remote trunk release lockout, the Z4 offers cargo security. The A3 Cabriolet’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.
The engine in the Z4 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the A3 Cabriolet. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.
The Z4 offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
When two different drivers share the Z4, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver and front passenger’s seat positions, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a memory system.
The Z4 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
In case of a sudden change of weather, the Z4 offers an optional remote convertible top that can be raised from a distance to protect the interior of the vehicle from damage. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a remote top, so the driver will have to run to the car, get in, turn the ignition on and raise the top to prevent the interior from being damaged.
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Z4 offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer cornering lights.
When the Z4 is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The A3 Cabriolet’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.
On extremely cold winter days, the Z4’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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