2020 BMW 4 Series Convertible vs. 2019 Nissan 370Z

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 4 Series Convertible has standard City Collision Mitigation, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The 370Z doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The 4 Series Convertible offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The 370Z doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The 4 Series Convertible’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The 370Z doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The 4 Series Convertible offers an optional Side and Top View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The 370Z only offers a rear monitor.

The 4 Series Convertible’s blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them and moves the vehicle back into its lane. The 370Z doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the 4 Series Convertible’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The 370Z doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Compared to metal, the 4 Series Convertible’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Nissan 370Z has a metal gas tank.

The 4 Series Convertible 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 370Z 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 4 Series Convertible and the 370Z have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

The BMW 4 Series Convertible weighs 512 to 995 pounds more than the Nissan 370Z. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

The 4 Series Convertible comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The 370Z’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The 4 Series Convertible’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the 370Z’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 4 Series Convertible for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the 370Z.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the 4 Series Convertible has a standard 170-amp alternator (210-amp - 4 Series Convertible 6 cyl.). The 370Z’s 150-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the 4 Series Convertible is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 4 Series Convertible’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The 370Z’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the 4 Series Convertible’s reliability 29 points higher than the 370Z.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 4 Series Convertible first among compact premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The 370Z isn’t in the top three in its category.

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 Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 6 places higher in reliability than Nissan.

Engine

The 440i Convertible’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 54 lbs.-ft. more torque (330 vs. 276) than the 370Z NISMO Coupe’s standard 3.7 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 4 Series Convertible gets better fuel mileage than the 370Z Roadster:

MPG

4 Series Convertible

RWD

430i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

23 city/34 hwy

440i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

22 city/29 hwy

AWD

430i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/32 hwy

440i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

20 city/28 hwy

370Z Roadster

RWD

3.7 DOHC V6

16 city/25 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the 4 Series Convertible’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The 370Z doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 4 Series Convertible’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The 370Z doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies the BMW 4 Series Convertible as a “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV). The Nissan 370Z is only certified to “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (ULEV) standards.

Transmission and Drivetrain

The BMW 4 Series Convertible comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the 370Z.

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 4 Series Convertible, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the 370Z.

All wheel drive, available in the 4 Series Convertible, provides the best traction for acceleration in wet, dry, and icy conditions. In corners, all wheel drive allows both outside wheels to provide power, balancing the car. This allows for better handling. The Nissan 370Z is not available with all wheel drive.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 4 Series Convertible’s standard front brake rotors are larger than those on the 370Z:

4 Series

370Z

Front Rotors

13 inches

12.6 inches

Tires and Wheels

The 4 Series Convertible’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 370Z’s standard 50 series front tires.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 4 Series Convertible can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The 370Z doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 4 Series Convertible has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The 370Z’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The 4 Series Convertible offers an available 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 370Z’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 4 Series Convertible’s wheelbase is 10.2 inches longer than on the 370Z (110.6 inches vs. 100.4 inches).

The 4 Series Convertible’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (49% to 51%) than the 370Z’s (54.3% to 45.7%). This gives the 4 Series Convertible more stable handling and braking.

Chassis

The 4 Series Convertible’s standard power retractable hardtop allows a seamless transition from an open car, to a completely sealed coupe. The 370Z doesn’t offer a retractable hardtop.

Passenger Space

The 4 Series Convertible has standard seating for 4 passengers; the 370Z can only carry 2.

The 4 Series Convertible has 38.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 370Z (90 vs. 51.6).

The 4 Series Convertible has 2.2 inches more front headroom and .9 inches more front shoulder room than the 370Z.

Cargo Capacity

The 4 Series Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top down than the 370Z Roadster (7.8 vs. 4.2 cubic feet). The 4 Series Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top up than the 370Z Roadster (13.1 vs. 4.2 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the 4 Series Convertible easier. The 4 Series Convertible’s trunk lift-over height is 26.2 inches, while the 370Z’s liftover is 35.6 inches.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the 4 Series Convertible’s available trunk can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The 370Z doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The 4 Series Convertible uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The 370Z uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

The 4 Series Convertible has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The 370Z doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the 4 Series Convertible has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The 370Z doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

When two different drivers share the 4 Series Convertible, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The 370Z doesn’t offer a memory system.

The 4 Series Convertible 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 370Z doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The 4 Series Convertible’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The 370Z’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 4 Series Convertible to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The 370Z doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 4 Series Convertible detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 370Z doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the 4 Series Convertible offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The 370Z doesn’t offer cornering lights.

When the 4 Series Convertible 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 370Z’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The 4 Series Convertible has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The 370Z has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The 4 Series Convertible’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The 370Z doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the 4 Series Convertible offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The 370Z doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The 4 Series Convertible’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The 370Z doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The BMW 4 Series comes in coupe, convertible and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Nissan 370Z isn’t available as a four-door.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the 4 Series Convertible owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the 4 Series Convertible with a number “1” insurance rate while the 370Z is rated higher at a number “3” rate.

The 4 Series Convertible will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the 4 Series Convertible will retain 45.78% to 47.7% of its original price after five years, while the 370Z only retains 19.47% to 45.22%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 4 Series Convertible is less expensive to operate than the 370Z because typical repairs cost much less on the 4 Series Convertible than the 370Z, including $231 less for a fuel pump and $175 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The 4 Series Convertible was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2014. The 370Z has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 4 Series Convertible was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2014. The 370Z has never been an “All Star.”

The BMW 4 Series outsold the Nissan 370Z by over 9 to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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