About two months ago, I have decided to exchange my 1995 BMW M3 to something "different". Based on my BMW experience (I have also owned a 1984 325e before), I purchased another BMW vehicle. For a change, I got the Z3 roadster.
What I have to praise about this car is the power, handling, and-of course-the BMW looks! Compared to the M3, the Z3 (with 2.8 l engine) delivers a surprisingly high power with a relatively quiet sound of the engine. Although this is not an M-car, I think that the powerhouse on this baby is more than adequate. I have also test drove the M roadster, which sounds like an M-car and also delivers the M-power which feels almost redundant on US roads. The Z3 in its tiny body feels much more lively than a stock M3. However, this review is about a Z3, and I should follow that beat.
This car sits on the road very tight. Anyone reading this review probably agrees that the Z3 is a beautifully designed car. On the other hand, it has its pros and cons. I think that the seats are as comfortable as any other BMW, although you will get tired faster than in a full size car. As far as safety is concerned, there is virtually no blind spot. I think that optional 17" rims with low profile tires improve handling and looks. The rear view mirrors combined provide a full coverage of the road behind you.
If you decide to get the Z3 or M-roadster, count on not having much space for transporting goods or traveling across the country. But would you really buy this car for any practical reasons? The Z3 is a fun car, and I think that is its purpose. Although I use it as a primary vehicle now, I think that most people would not be very comfortable with the same choice.
If you have kids, and like convertibles, look into the 3-series coupes
(although if you want a new beemer, the first convertible available is the 323). You will not get as much power, unless you decide to get a pre-owned E-36 convertible M3 (such as 1998). In my opinion, anyone in the US will be scarcely able to drive the 2.8 Z3 into its full potential on a public road. I am fully satisfied with this car and highly recommend a manual transmission-which a fun car like this should have.