Spotted on its latest round of the Nurburgring, this is a Z4 prototype, the nose's plastic panels having been removed in favour of ducktape - chiefly revealing the new car's wider kidney grille.

Spotted on its latest round of the Nurburgring, this is the previously-unidentified Z4 prototype, thought perhaps with its thicker faux panels to be a Z6 or Z9 in the early stages of development. But its Z4 status has now been confirmed on the track, the removal of plastic panels in favour of ducktape chiefly revealing the new car's wider kidney grille. Thick exterior mouldings however remain plastered to the sides and rear.

Built off the new 3-Series chassis, the car grows in size for the new generation, although these faux panels make it difficult to judge just how much the new Z4 has grown. A softer, less assertive bonnet, which may be designed for greater pedestrian safety, culminates in the wider kidney grille for a more poised front end. It is unclear as to whether the concave door surfaces feature will remain, while camouflage at the rear reveals little, bar the incling that new rear lamps may inherit styling cues from the new 1-Series Coupe or X5. A raised boot lid spoiler appears to stay.

The present car's twin exhausts appear to be re-positioned for the new generation Z4, moving from the left of the car to one either side. BMW's new inline six-cylinder engine used in the new 3-Series is likely to make its way to the new Z4, joining the Z4's present 2.2, 2.5 and 3.2-litre petrol unit line-up.

The Z4 will be produced in BMW's Regensburg plant from the end of 2009. Stay tuned for further spy shots and information.

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