The first Z4 (2003-2009) was a rear-drive, front-engine, two-seat roadster, and was briefly offered as a coupe. The second-gen Z4 (2009-2016) utilized a retractable hardtop to presumably be the best of both worlds, but ended production in 2016. In its third iteration, the Z4 will be a product of the joint sports car project between BMW and Toyota. Here’s everything we know about the all-new roadster so far.
What is it?
The Z4, Z5, whatever you want to call it, will be an all-new, front engine, rear-drive roadster. Old rumors suggested BMW would switch to a Z5 nameplate, but the Z4 Concept makes us think Z4 is most likely to continue on. Former Head of BMW America, Ludwig Willisch also revealed to AutoGuide that the Z5 name is “something that someone else has made up,” and said the new roadster “will be called Z… probably 4.”
Toyota and BMW joined together to develop a platform to underpin the new Z4 and revived Toyota Supra for better economies of scale. Although both cars will have the same platform, BMW CEO of Australia Marc Werner said the Z4 will be “a unique BMW product, as you would expect.” One key difference: The Supra will be sold only as a coupe, and the Z4 will only come fitted with a soft convertible top.
What does it look like?
Look no further than the BMW Z4 Concept. Even BMW global design chief, Adrian van Hooydonk said himself it’s a “very close hint of what the production car will look like next year."
Recent spy shots seem to prove that notion. Even though the spy photographers caught a heavily camouflaged version of the roadster, head and taillight designs look very similar to the concept. Sadly, the exterior looks far less bold than the orange concept car. Especially from the side, the bold, high character line seems to be smoothed out on the pre-production mule. Other more aggressive deep creases in the front and rear bumpers also appear tuned down. Nonetheless, the third-gen Z4 keeps the same long hood and short rear deck profile BMW roadsters are known for.
The Z4 Concept also gave us a good look at what the new roadster’s cabin will look like. Glance at the interior and you see plenty of real parts: Actual radio and HVAC controls, and a familiar looking shifter and iDrive control knob. Although it’s still bound to change slightly, judging by the concept’s interior, the new Z4 will have a luxurious and sporty looking interior.
What’s under the hood?
Rumor has it the Z4 will start out with a base s20i version packing a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder producing 180 horsepower. Step up to the s30i, and you will get a slightly beefed up version of the four with 250 hp. Thankfully, the range-topping 340i will be blessed with a turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six engine likely from the 340i. The straight-six, according to BMWBLOG, is set to deliver 335 hp or 385 hp.
The two different outputs could hint at different versions for European or American markets, or an optional Competition Package that unlocks the 50 additional horsepower. Sadly, this will likely be the hottest form of the Z4. A BMW spokesperson told Automobile Magazine back in August that a Z4 M won’t be in the works.
Although its platform-mate is speculated to have a Toyota-sourced turbocharged hybrid powerplant, it looks like the Z4 will only receive BMW-sourced four- and six-cylinder engines. As of now, Car Advice hints that only the base s20i model will let you row your own gears with a six-speed manual. Other models are expected to receive an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.
When will we see it?
BMW has been a little wishy-washy on this subject. The company said it will host the world premiere of the all-new Z4 sometime in 2018. The North American International Auto Show, in January 2018, may be a fitting place for an introduction, as this is where BMW and Toyota announced their partnership in 2013.
“Those cars [the Z4 and 8 Series concepts] will be product variants next year,” BMW North America CEO Bernhard Kuhnt said at Pebble Beach. “They are just around the corner.”
We’ll make sure to keep you updated as more information comes our way. Check out the gallery below of all of the Z4 spy shots and Z4 Concept photos we have so far.