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BMW Z3 - Guide to Interiors

The Z3 interior was a successful design, it was nice place to be. The seats were comfortable and the driving position just right. With the roof up the noise isn't intrusive until you get above 70, but you definitely know it's a soft top. Lower the top and you'll be surprised you little wind buffeting is an issue. Just turn up the very powerful heater and enjoy the car all year round as it should be enjoyed.


BMW Z3 interior

Fairly standard early Z3 interior, later design tried to hard and was too fussy.

The grade of leather used on the seats is up to normal BMW standards of the time, it's good stuff. But don't be surprised to find a bit of wear on the driver's outer bolster. Some cars had cloth but not many, a shame as I prefer it. The cloth wasn't a very inspiring looking fabric but wears well. The plastics are a really nice grade except for the centre console and dash top which lack texture so are a bit shiny and feel out of place.

My car has black plastic knobs and surrounds whose subdued nature I find pleasing. As the model aged more and more chrome bits replaced them and were a bit too bling for my taste.


BMW Z3 interior

There were some fairly flamboyant colours of leather on offer.

Internal storage consists of door pockets with a coin tray, a small glove box (due to the passenger airbag) and a centre console phone tray. Between the seats there's a cassette / CD storage box and above it a decently sized box with a locking lid. The passenger footwell has a net for holding maps and the like. If the car had no switches for an electric roof, a/c or DSC then a storage tray was fitted.


BMW Z3 interior

Early style cloth interior, note passenger storage net.

The seats have a unique combination of electric operation for the base but manual adjustment of the seat back angle. I've fairly certain a memory function wasn't available even as an option.


BMW Z3 interior

Red leather, note oddments holder in centre console.


BMW Z3 interior

Facelift interior in a late 2.2 Z3 with Motorsport steering wheel.

When BMW facelifted the interior the result wasn't to my taste, a bit too disjoint and it seemed to try too hard. The centre console was the main area of change with a new round clock. New steering wheels were fitted with the E46 "double spoke" offering being the base option. But it's very common to find the Motorsport wheel with it's large centre section on Z3s.


BMW Z3 interior

Z3 //M interior with extra centre console gauges.

The //M version came with the sculpted sports seats, more leather on the dash and extra gauges in the centre console Far more of the interior was colour coded.


BMW Z3 interior

Facelift cloth interior with patterned fabric and E46 steering wheel.

Facelift cars were much more likely to have the cloth interior, something very rare on early cars. The later cloth doesn't seem to last as well and looks a good deal cheaper as well as being a bit gaudy.


BMW Z3 interior

Dash binnacle, note optional hand stitched leather.

The dash design was very similar to the E36 and that's no bad thing. The one notable difference is the removal of the economy gauge from the tachometer, I always find this annoying and it bugs me. They did the same on the E36 compact.

Early cars had a rectangular digital clock next to the stereo. A fairly uncommon option is for this to be replaced with an onboard computer controlled by pushing the indicator stalk in the normal BMW manner. The normal clock has H and M buttons, on the OBC they're labeled S/R and a clock symbol. If later cars had this OBC it was a rectangular digital display inside a round chrome frame.


BMW Z3 interior

My Z3's boot showing CD changer.

The boot is a decent size for a car of this type but you'll need to pack light on longer trips. If the six CD multichanger is fitted it'll rob a bit of space and it's in an awkward location. If you really need extra capacity BMW offered a boot lid rack but it spoiled the clean look of the car.


BMW Z3 interior

Z3 boot tools and battery.

Under the boot mat you'll find the tool kit and battery. You'll also find something very few other BMWs have, a release lever for the spare wheel that lives under the car. The first time I tried to remove the spare it took me over twenty minutes, it's not an obvious procedure. But it's well worth doing in the comfort of your drive as the plastic tray will be full of dead leaves and road debris which will have rusted the wheel perfectly. It'll also be flat. BMW fitted an extension tube on the tyre's valve so that mechanics could check the pressure without removing the wheel, this will have rotted through years ago.