An interview with the M division boss should clarify things.
In less than one month, BMW will reveal its next-generation Z4 roadster at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Monterey, California. In fact, the German automaker has just released a new teaser image of the car's front grille to add some further media hype. We're hyped, needless to say. The new Z4 is built on that same BMW-Toyota jointly developed sports car platform that'll also underpin the new Supra. However, the Supra will very likely remain a coupe only while the Z4 will sport the drop top. But what about a potential Z4 M?
This has topic has rarely been discussed, until now. Car and Driver chatted with BMW M boss Frank Van Meel recently and without directly saying "no", van Meel more or less poured cold water on a future M version. "Let me put it this way: I think the M40i is the perfect positioning regarding performance of that car," he said. "It's quite close to the M2, so we're really happy with the overall concept of that car being an M40i. If you would go any higher, it would be very, very narrow in customer groups." Basically, BMW doesn't see the business case for a Z4 M, namely because the convertible/roadster market is already niche enough as is.
The first generation Z4 sported a full-on M version sold as both a coupe and roadster. A total of only a little over 5,000 M roadsters and 4,200 M coupes were built worldwide before production ended in 2008. The recently discontinued second-generation Z4 never had an M variant. The Z4's Z3 predecessor, however, had both an M coupe and roadster, the former being particularly rare. Regarding the upcoming all-new Z4, specifically the M40i referred to by van Meel, reports indicate it'll be powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder. Exact output and other specs are coming soon, but we highly doubt it'll be underpowered.