After years of sitting in the shallow end of BMW’s lineup as a sort-of also-ran, the German roadster is back with the new Z4, and it’s the most promising sign of life out of BMW since the introduction of the 2 Series.
The BMW Z-cars have never been performance icons. Introduced as James Bond’s car of choice with a disappointing role in GoldenEye back in 1995, the original Z3 roadster was a cute car that was fine to drive, acting more as an up-market Miata than a true gem in a lineup. The subsequent Z4 never escaped the Bangle-era styling, and ultimately suffered as a heavy, not-that-pretty convertible some people bought over a Porsche or Mercedes for reasons that are beyond me.
But after only being dead for a year, the Z4 is back, and this time it looks great and seems set to at least offer adequate performance, if only behind a paywall. Automobile Magazine claims to have details of what the production Z4 will look like, starting at the previous car’s $50,000-ish price tag and quickly climbing beyond.
According to Automobile, the Z4 is based on architecture that will be shared by Toyota’s upcoming “Supra” sequel, with both cars sharing a line of BMW engines:
The Munich grapevine suggests three different versions of the Z4. The base s20i will likely be powered by the brand’s 2.0-liter turbo inline-four presently rated at 180 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque in the BMW 320i. The s30i features the same engine in 248 hp, 258 lb-ft guise, with the Z4 M40i using a version of the 320 hp, 340 lb-ft straight-six from the 340i. Not yet confirmed is a Competition Pack, which would kick up the 3.0-liter’s output by some 40 horses and 30 lb-ft. Although the base model will come with a six-speed manual gearbox, higher-end versions will relay torque via an eight-speed ZF auto box.
So we have a sexy new roadster offering a manual and possibly up to 360 horsepower (though maybe not in the same package)? That sounds pretty good for a brand enthusiasts have been claiming has been dimming the light on fun for years.
If this report is accurate, that places the new Z4 right alongside the Porsche Cayman in both style and performance. The only trouble is Automobile reported not to expect any surprises like a hybrid, all-wheel drive model, or even a Z4 M, which is truly a damn shame.
But I’m sure if this thing sells on a level that surpasses the history of the model, BMW just might have to reconsider its claim that a Z4 M upgrade would cost too much. Obviously it’s something nobody but BMW would say no to.
In the end, this Z4 concept is said to be 80 percent of the production car, and if the looks translate and the performance delivers, it’s hard not to see this as an attractive alternative to a 4 Series and a contender against the Cayman, and I genuinely think it looks much more attractive than BMW’s other hot new two-door, the 8 Series concept. That makes it a pretty appealing and appeasing prospect, let’s just hope it’s not too overshadowed by its Japanese step-sibling when the time comes.