TWO closely related cars. One battle. We pit the 2020 BMW Z4 M40i against the 2020 Toyota Supra GTS. Find out what happens when you give one JDM obsessed car reviewer and one lover of all things Euro, the keys to both of them.
In this battle, the part of JDM fan boi and Supra reviewer will be played by Paul Pascual. Jason Fernandez will fill the role of Euro-lover and Z4 poster child. These are real roles. It’s how they live their lives (although Jason secretly loves JDM cars too).
[editor’s note: Paul and Jason had a green light to have at it, and have fun with this story. It is somewhat tongue in cheek. The boss made them review these cars for proper standalone reviews as well, giving Jason the Z4 and Paul the Supra.]
At first glance (exterior styling)
Paul Pascual: On the outside, both cars are a sight for sore eyes. Both are attractive but world’s apart in styling and aesthetics. Although both have two doors and share a chassis and wheelbase, the Z4 comes in a soft top convertible while the Supra is as a coupe.
The Z4 may turn a few heads here and there but it appeals to the middle-aged male or female experiencing a mid-life crisis. A male buying a convertible basically screams “blow my toupe off my shiny bald head but it doesn’t matter because I’ll get all the girls”.
While for the female counterpart, you’d have to put your hair in a ponytail or put a hat on, and we know when a woman has put her hair in a ponytail, she’s all business. The Supra on the other hand, has a roof that will protect you, rain, hail or shine.
It’s guaranteed to cause traffic accidents as most people will turn to look and wonder what super car has just blessed them with its presence, but who doesn’t want to have a shinier and better car than the next person.
Jason Fernandez: On a long windy road, you lower your speed to below 50km/h and drop the soft top. The wind’s blowing through your actual ‘real’ hair, your favourite tune on the Harman/Kardon sound system, and you can even chat to your passenger.
Is there any other place you’d rather be than in a classic BMW roadster, with a streamlined body and looks that are appropriate for any occasion. This is BMW, this is the 2020 Z4 M40i.
Now if you want to look like a boy racer driving a Ferrari wannabe, in a car that looks like an 86 on steroids, then the 2020 Toyota Supra GTS is for you. Yes it has striking looks and a hell of a lot of sex appeal, but looks alone can’t make up for the overall package.
Looking in (interior look and feel)
Jason: Right off the bat, the list of ‘what should have been included’ is much, much lower in the Z4 than the GTS. If you’re going to build a sports car, at least provide the driver with sufficient tools.
The steering wheel is a major focal point and Toyota really messed that up. Cabin and storage space in the BMW is another major win. I could comfortably wear a helmet and drive with all the extra room for activities.
The M40i has Apple CarPlay. Wow Toyota jump on the band wagon. BMW Connected Drive lets you control features of your Z4 like OO7, you get ambient lighting, a kick ass sound system, bigger infotainment screen and digital instrument panel.
Interior cabin noise is ridiculous with windows down in the Supra at speeds over 100km/h, so the BMW wins here too.
Paul: All right, what can I say, the interior of the Z4 is leagues better than the Supra. But so is the price point. For an extra $30,000, something is bound to be different, other than the BMW badge. And it is. Wait did i just concede that.
The steering wheel is right too. Damn, Jason is winning. The Z4 wheel is almost identical, but it just suits the rest of the interior where the Supra’s looks out of place. Perhaps with a smaller diameter and different material like perforated leather it would be a Supra win.
I will also concede defeat with Jason’s statement regarding the cockpit orientation, the Supra’s pedigree Mark 4 (JZA80) came with a driver facing cockpit which was half the reason the Supra was an incredible car.
That said, the carbon centre console is plenty for the application. It’s a Toyota, you can’t expect the interior to feel like the inside of a Bentley. It’s also a very sporty Toyota, it doesn’t need extravagant luxury touches for it to feel like a proper sports car.
For the drive of it (driving experience)
Jason: Driving the Z4 feels like you’re behind the wheel of the ultimate sleeper car. It doesn’t draw the attention the Supra does, but put the Z4 into SPORT or SPORT+ and like Moses parting the Red Sea, watch as a path is made clear for your travels.
Sunnies on, top down, the brutal exhaust note crackling, the wind through your hair, sound system pumping, this is a roadster, this is a sports car. Yes I may look like a wanker, but the haters are gonna hate, hairdressers unite!
Paul: There truly aren’t many cars that make you feel like you’re a little kid again, the Supra is one of those cars. It’s almost impossible to drive the car normally in comfort mode.
It has such a presence on the road that I actually became self-conscious and aware of my surroundings as people in other cars stare at the bodywork and then stare at my ugly mug thinking “how could this idiot possibly afford to own one of these marvels”.
The Supra is easily one of the best driving cars I’ve ever had the pleasure of piloting, the 8-speed auto gearbox is so very smooth and the power delivery is unreal. If I could truly afford the price tag, there would be one sitting in my garage ready for every weekend.
Can you handle this (ride and handling)
Paul: The Z4 provides a softer and more comfortable drive, but when you’re in the market for a two-door sports car, is comfort really what you’re shopping for. Sure, it’s sharp and responsive, but the Supra is sharper, more responsive, and more direct.
The Japanese performance car has the feel of a true sports car. There’s no floating on a cloud here. Throw the Toyota around that corner and feel every dip and bump in the steering wheel, pedals and your butt as you and the car become one.
Jason: I totally disagree with my friend. Why would anyone want to pay that kind of money for a car that has the same driving characteristics as a car a quarter of its price. I’d love a driver’s car, but for six figures, there are better options.
The Z4 is a multi-tasker. It can handle the challenging drives with ease, and the day-to-day commute even better. Sure the Supra plays hard, but the Z4 plays harder with less effort.
Game on (technology and connectivity)
Paul: The technology in both cars is similar, and I’ll concede (damn, again) that the Z4 has a better standard package. But let’s face it, you’re not buying a car at this price point with this much torque and power just to gloat about having Harman/Kardon sound.
The Supra’s JBL surround sound system is plenty good. Frankly, Toyota’s entire technology package is more than enough.
Jason: Harman/Kardon is a necessity when your factory BMW M power exhaust system is louder than the Supra. If I wanted plain and ordinary I would buy a Camry. I want gadgets, apps, and automation, and the Z4 has them all.
Let’s not just focus on the audio here Pauly (the Z4 is a clear winner anyway), because jealousy hurts. Have you forgotten the “hectic” BMW Connected app, the customisable ambient lighting, bigger screen, nicer steering wheel, digital dash. Need I go on.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a must for most car buyers these days. Oh wait the Supra doesn’t have them. Well it does have a JBL sound system, that is hard to hear when you have the windows down due to in cabin noise.
The best bits
Paul: Both cars have their own unique outstanding qualities, but the Supra is a driver’s car. The Z4 tries to be, but it falls short. The Supra is altogether more aggressive inside and out. It’s Toyota’s answer to Godzilla.
Luxuries and comforts have been thrown to the wind and sacrificed for performance. It’s a blank slate for enthusiasts, and an opportunity to modify it the way you want it.
Jason: “It’s not how you stand by your car, it’s how you race it.” It’s all well and good that the Supra looks the part, but that doesn’t win the battle. The Z4 holds its own in the ring when it comes to matching and surpassing the Supra for speed and handling.
Sure, it’s a convertible, but it wouldn’t look out of place on or off the track. The musical medley played by the BMW M exhaust system absolutely shatters that of the Supra. It’s an awesome ‘back in your box, Supra’ when you rev the Z4 next to it.
At the end of the day you are paying for all the bells and whistles when it comes to the Z4, however you genuinely feel like you have received your money’s worth. The best part is the fact that the BMW is a BMW, not a Toyota hiding the fact it is a BMW.
The worst bits
Jason: There’s a few things not to like about the Z4. The headlight design is a bit average. Comfort access is annoying, unlocking your car every time you walk near it with the keys in your pocket (and making you touch the door to lock it).
There’s a tonne of technology and automation, but when you open the door it doesn’t put the car in park or turn the handbrake on. If you’re tall, the soft top creates some pretty ordinary blind spots too.
Paul: In the case of the Supra, one of the worst things is the cabin noise with the windows down, at anything over about 70k/h – at 100km/h plus it’s hideous. The infotainment system looks like it was glued to the dash. It’s an odd look.
There are a few vibrations in the Toyota too, including a dash rattle under acceleration. It’s a bit of a cause for concern, as was the stream of error messages from the blind spot monitoring system, which was beyond overzealous.
Tell them the price, son
Jason: It’s a Bimmer, which means it’s always going to come at a premium price. But value for money is exceptional, even with a $135,000 drive away price. The driveability, technology, and the cool soft top, ensure the M40i wins hands down on price.
Paul: Spend $30,000 less for the hyper-aggressive and sportier Toyota Supra. Surely that’s a no-brainer. Besides, for the money you spend on a Z4, you may as well buy the M2 Competition.
A convertible BMW designed for high-end hairdressers won’t help you reinforce your self-esteem, but a Supra will do wonders for it.
And the winner is…
Paul: Without a doubt, and because I am truly a JDM fan, it would be the Supra. Who can resist breaking the necks of people as you fly past them. It’s not possible to back it out of your garage and run down to the shops without being bombarded by fans of the car.
And unlike the Z4, it is most definitely a driver’s car. On the road, it’s sportier, and every input you make, whether it be in the steering wheel or pedals, reverberates through the rest of the car.
It’s just an altogether magnificent piece of engineering, one that should be taken for a spirited drive along mountain roads every weekend.
I know I’m sold, I just don’t have a casual $105,000 sitting around. Oh and if Paul Walker were alive, I’m sure you’d find him in one of these, not a Z4. As a side note, I’ll take mine in one of three colours, the Phantom Matte Grey, Absolute Zero White or Nitro Yellow.
Jason: This is hard to say, given I’ve backed the Z4 in throughout this, but I do love my Japanese cars. Even though I’ve owned many Euro vehicles, like the prodigal son, I find myself wanting to return to the rising sun.
That does mean I’d choose the Supra over the Z4, if only for its price tag. I get that the Supra lacks many things in that the Z4 offers, but the Japanese performance car feels less automated and screams customisation. That’s part of the attraction.
Let’s put it this way. The Z4 is the girl you take home to mum and dad. Prim and proper, an angel in the public eye, who can be naughty when she needs to be.
The Supra is going to cost you money, draw attention, have you on your toes, take you the thrill ride of your life and you will love her all the more for it.
So there you have it, the battle royale. Who won it in your eyes? The 2020 BMW Z4 M40i or the 2020 Toyota Supra GTS? Tell us in the comments, we’d love to know what you think.
Our 2020 BMW Z4 M40i was supplied by BMW Australia. Our 2020 Toyota Supra GTS was supplied by Toyota Australia. To find out more about each vehicle, contact your local respective dealer. Images courtesy of J_Hui Design/Photography and Cameron Cooke Photography.