Monday trivia: When was the next-generation BMW Z4 spied for the very first time? The answer would have to be in January 2016. Fast forward to June 2018, we still haven’t properly seen the new roadster, but at least now we have official teaser images depicting a camouflaged prototype. It’s no ordinary test vehicle as we’re looking at the Z4 M40i, which will be the crown jewel of the range taking into account a full-fat Z4 M will not see the light of production day.
BMW is being coy on details for the time being, but at least we do know the range topper is going to be blessed with a newly developed inline-six engine promising to be “extremely powerful.” The M40i will feature a great deal of other goodies, including an M sports brake system, new front axle, lowered sports suspension (with electronically controlled dampers), and a set of M lightweight alloy wheels shod in mixed tires. Interestingly, the engineers have also come up with an electronically controlled lock in the rear axle differential to ensure the Z4 will be a proper sports car.
The adjacent images come from the Autodrome de Miramas in the south of France where BMW is currently testing near-production prototypes of the new Z4 by making last-minute tweaks to the powertrain and suspension. As with our own spy shots, the prototype is dipped in camouflage, but even so you can still see it’s a higher-spec version judging by the intricate front bumper with lots of vents. The blue brake calipers and the large dual exhaust tips are also signs of an amped-up version.
Although we can’t quite see the interior in BMW’s teaser, spy images from mid-April reveled a great deal of the cabin’s design. Pictured above, the Z4 had the company’s new digital instrument cluster and most likely the latest iDrive infotainment system part of the Operating System 7.0 previewed a couple of months ago.
All that’s left now is for BMW to finally reveal the production-ready Z4 and Toyota to come out with its equivalent Supra. Meanwhile, the Bavarians are gearing up for an important debut in the weeks to come, with the 8 Series Coupe to be reborn on June 15 at Le Mans.
Gallery: 2019 BMW Z4 teasers
The new BMW Z4: green light for pure driving pleasure.
Driving dynamics trials at the BMW test centre in Miramas in the south of France provide key insights into the performance properties of the new roadster.
Munich. Long bonnet, short overhangs, low centre of gravity, soft top: the sporty two-seater doing its laps at the BMW test centre in Miramas in the south of France is instantly recognisable as a purebred roadster. The new BMW Z4 is currently undergoing another particularly important stage of the process towards serial production maturity, in this case involving driving dynamics testing of a heavily disguised prototype. This will provide key insights into the performance properties of the new model, whose genuine roadster characteristics, pure driving pleasure and captivating sporty flair will soon go out on public roads.
Trials at the Autodrome de Miramas are focusing on fine-tuning of all drive and suspension systems – the basis for the sporty driving experience offered by the new BMW Z4. The most intense form of new dynamic roadster performance is embodied by the BMW Z4 M40i. A new, extremely powerful in-line 6-cylinder engine, a lowered sports suspension with electronically controlled dampers, a newly developed front axle, M light alloy wheels with mixed tyres, an M sports brake system and an electronically controlled lock in the rear axle differential create an overall package that sees the BMW M Performance model setting a whole new benchmark for driving pleasure in the roadster segment.
"The vehicle concept of the new BMW Z4 is geared consistently towards agility and driving dynamics," explains Jos van As, Head of Application Suspension. "The high level of body stiffness and the very rigid suspension attachment provide the perfect basis for a set-up that guarantees the performance qualities of a genuine sports car in terms of steering precision as well as longitudinal and transverse acceleration."
Like the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, the Miramas test centre offers perfect conditions for the new BMW Z4 to demonstrate its driving dynamics potential. Used by BMW to develop and test new models for more than 30 years, the centre comprises a long asphalt oval and a motorway ring road for high-speed tests as well as slalom, serpentine and circular tracks and a number of handling courses and circuits featuring highly diverse types of surface. These are currently being used for detailed analysis and optimisation of the roadster's acceleration, steering and brake response. For example, the final form of the adaptive M suspension as it interacts with the rear axle limited-slip differential is developed on a circuit that is also used for testing purposes by BMW Motorsport.
This intense testing process already indicates that the new version of the roadster concept will offer a tangible increase in sporty flair in the new BMW Z4. The new generation will particularly introduce effective enhancements in terms of agile handling, spontaneity and precision when changing direction and accelerating in dynamic style out of bends – without losing out in the comfort disciplines.