Maybe we don't really need a Z4 M after all.
The upcoming Z4 Roadster was recently unveiled at Pebble Beach and while its looks have generally been a big improvement over the current car, the lack of a pure M model in the line-up has left fans a little disappointed. BMW M boss, Frank Van Meel felt that the market for such a model would be extremely limited and claimed that the 335-hp M40i offered more than enough performance already.
Well, according to the German publication, Sport Auto, he may be right. Their test driver, Christian Gebhardt has just set a lap time of 7:55.41 in a pre-production European-spec 335-hp M40i, a full 6-seconds quicker than the time he set in the M2.
Now the Z3 and first-generation Z4 both could be had in M-trim but the 'vanilla' models in those ranges never had the kind of firepower the upcoming Z4 M40i has. And seeing as it is fitted with M Sport brakes and rear-diff as well as electronically controlled dampers, it is already much more capable than any base Z4 before it.
What about the M2 Competition? Surely that M car would see off a Z4 M40i around a track? Well, that beefed-up M2 does offer a serious 405 hp from the twin-turbo motor it borrows from the current M3 but then again, US M40i models are likely to have 385 hp under the hood, instead of the European model's 335 hp.
That should help keep the lap times very close although the two cars will undoubtedly have very different characters. The M2 is solely available in coupe form and can be optioned with a 6-speed manual transmission, it may not be much quicker around a track but it will still be the purists choice.
The Z4, on the other hand, is a soft top roadster that will only be available with an 8-speed auto transmission, although with the handling and performance to take on some serious sports cars.