Niche is nice.

Convertibles are a dying breed because people simply aren’t buying them anymore, hence why the hardtop Z4 was a slow-selling product for BMW. Despite the ongoing trend in the car market to opt for a more practical model with four doors, a successor for the roadster will still see the light of production day either later this year or in 2018.

One of the main reasons why there’s going to be a new open-top model has to do with the fact the Bavarians will be able to achieve economies of scale by teaming up with Toyota. The latter will have its own version of the car, albeit it’s going to take the shape of a coupe, one that’s rumored to revive the legendary “Supra” moniker.

The Z5 (name not confirmed) will allegedly come out first, but judging by the amount of camouflage this prototype had, don’t expect an official reveal to occur in the following months. Not only did the test vehicle have provisional headlights and taillights, but the real body was masked by extra panels. These are all signs there’s still a lot of testing left to do, so we wouldn’t hold our breath for the camo to come off entirely until at least towards the end of 2017.

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Magna Steyr will reportedly be in charge of putting together the Z5 and its Toyota counterpart from 2018 at its factory in Graz, Austria. Little else is known about the cars at the moment of writing, but the rumor mill indicates the duo will use BMW engines and is going to take advantage of Toyota’s hybrid expertise. The electrified version might serve as the range topper and boast an all-wheel-drive arrangement, but it’s too early to know for sure. One of the few certainties we have at this point is there won’t be an M version of the Z5, with BMW already ruling out that idea.

Expect the new Z5 to be considerably lighter than its predecessor taking into account the switch to a lighter fabric top. This important change will also pay dividends in terms of practically as the trunk’s capacity is set to grow thanks to the less complex roof mechanism.

In the months to follow, the Z5 and the Supra will likely shave off some of the camouflage and hopefully BMW and Toyota will get rid of those add-on panels.

Video: Automedia

2018 BMW Z5 spy photos