And some said the roadster was dead. Who's laughing now?
To say we were blown away by the new BMW Concept Z4 would be sort of an understatement. In short, it’s stunning. But underneath that gorgeous sheetmetal lies the bones that’ll make for the greatest BMW roadster since the Z3. Automobile Magazine has done some further investigating regarding the upcoming production-spec Z4, due for 2019, and it’s amazing how many wrongs BMW has corrected this time around. For starters, that heavy and cargo space wasting retractable hardtop is a goner, replaced by an electronically operated soft top.
There won’t be a new Z4 coupe because that’ll be Toyota Supra territory. And that’s just fine because BMW designers want the new Z4 to be driven topless as often as possible. As is the case with upcoming new 3 Series and current 5 and 7 Series, the Z4 will be underpinned by BMW’s new rear-wheel-drive CLAR platform, although it’ll be appropriately modified for roadster duties. Adaptive dampers and an optional M Sport kit will be on offer, but there will be no Z4 M. How come? Because, according to a BMW spokesperson, there’d be too many modifications needed in order to make it a proper M car, and doing so would thrust the price tag into the six-figure range, a major no-no considering the also upcoming 8 Series.
But no matter, the 2019 Z4 will still be more than capable. Total weight will be between 3,000-3,200 pounds, thanks partially to the automatic elimination of AWD. Expect standard 17-inch wheels and optional 18- and 19-inchers along with beefier brakes. As far as engines go, the base Z4 will likely feature the familiar 2.0-liter turbo inline-four with 180 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. The mid-range model will have the same engine, but upgraded to 248 hp and 258 lb-ft. The top trim Z4 M40i will pack a version of the 340i’s 3.0-liter straight-six, with 320 hp and 340 lb-ft. A Competition Package hasn’t been confirmed yet, but if one were to materialize the straight-six’s output will be bumped up by 40 hp and 30 lb-ft or so.
Gearboxes will include a six-speed manual for the base trim while the familiar eight-speed ZF automatic will come in higher spec trims. Now, the new Z4’s platform was designed to accommodate plug-in hybrid and full-on EV powertrains, but that won’t be happening here. The Z4 will remain solely combustion. Nor will it offer any sort of autonomous driving tech, thank goodness. This is a purists’ roadster, after all, and we’ve seen several spy shots of prototypes testing at the Nurburgring. Other features will include the latest version of iDrive and an available head-up display. Expect a low to mid-$50,000 pricing starting point. It's clear BMW has learned from the mistakes of the previous Z4 and will create its best roadster in over 20 years.