It’s always good news when an all-new, reasonably affordable sports roadster appears on the scene and especially exciting when it carries a BMW badge.

BMW chose 2019 as the year it would replace its Z4 model with a fully updated sixth-generation version. The current model of this roadster has been around since 2009, so it’s had a nice long run.

The Z roadster range has its origins in the Z1 of 1989, the novel design which included doors that slid down into deep sills rather than opening outwards. As far as automotive design goes, this was a blind alley and the Z cars we’ve become familiar with are stylistically based on the 1995 Z3 with its stubby boot, long hood and conventional doors. Although the sheet metal is all-new, the 2019 car does carry on with a design language that has made these cars so popular. Despite following a basic outline that goes back many decades in sports roadsters from numerous manufacturers, the Z4 retains lots of originality. Right from the old Z3, this BMW has always been instantly recognisable and it’s not easy to mistake it for any of its rivals. Having said that, in profile the new car looks a lot like a Mercedes SL, though not too many people are going to complain about that. Overall, the car has a more aggressive look that combines nicely with its fluid lines.

One fascinating side element to this new Z4 is that the new Toyota Supra, yet to be revealed, will be built on the same platform and the two carmakers partnered at the development stage. Since the long awaited Supra will not come with a roadster option, it will be a very different car, though pricing may be similar. Earlier Z cars had fabric roofs that were a little ungainly and did nothing to enhance the car’s profile. This time around, BMW has really got the roof right and it’s very cleverly integrated into the overall lines of the car. Interestingly, there’s no convertible hardtop available, at least for now, so the ragtop is the only choice. That’s not a step backwards, as fabric roofs and their folding mechanisms are far lighter than the complex systems needed by a metal hardtop. BMW engineers say that going back to the fabric roof has helped lower the car’s centre of gravity, making for improved handling. The roof can be deployed in 10 seconds and at speeds up to 50 km/h.

As with so many BMW models, there will be an M performance version. The basic car uses a 4-cylinder, turbocharged, 2.0-litre engine and the M40i has a 3.0-litre turbocharged V-6. Both engines are mated to an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission and there is no manual box available. Given current trends in sports car transmission, not too many buyers will mourn the missing manual gearbox, though for some it will be a dealbreaker.

Inside the car, everything is up to BMW’s widely praised standard of finish and convenience. Prominent are a 10.2-inch screen for the infotainment system and an instrument cluster that’s entirely digital and very easy to scan, with a screen similar in size to the satnav/stereo unit. Options include a head-up display on the windscreen (a first for this model) and an enhanced Harmon Kardon sound system.

BMW has brought us a more dynamic Z4 with some very worthwhile features. There are virtually no carryovers from the old car anywhere, making it truly an all-new model. If it has the same lengthy production run as its predecessor, new owners will be happy that their vehicle will not date for a very long time to come. The car should give close competitors in this market a run for their money and the Z4 might just end up being the best of the bunch in the immediate future.

ENGINE: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo or 3.0-litre 6-cylinder turbo (M).

TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic.

ACCELERATION: Zero to 100 km/h in 4.6-secs (M).

TOP SPEED: 250 km/h (both versions).

I LIKED: The new Z4 has a sportier stance than its predecessor and the convertible roof is a major improvement over earlier fabric units. Excellent response and handling from both variants, with the edge obviously going to the M version. BMW has managed to keep pricing close to the earlier model so the new car represents very good value.

I DIDN’T LIKE: No manual transmission available for buyers who’d prefer one.

MARKET ALTERNATIVES: Mercedes-Benz SLC, Audi TT Roadster, Porsche Boxster.

WHO DRIVES ONE? Buyers who want a fun-to-drive roadster but want to keep the price reasonable. BMW enthusiasts who must have the latest sports car from the Bavarian carmaker. Owners of rival Mercedes, Audi and Porsche products who’d like to make a change.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY: From €52.924, available now.