Following a cheeky leak, the BMW Z4 concept has been revealed in full at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California. With an aggressive look, short overhangs and an accompanying press release that mentions the word “sporty’ a lot, all signs point toward a more driver-focused offering than the previous-generation Z4.
Here’s what we know so far…
As fun as it is ogling the striking concept, you’re all probably wondering when we’ll get to see the real deal. The answer is March 2018, as it’s expected to make its debut at the Geneva Motor Show.
The worry with a concept as bold as this Z4 is that most of it will get binned when a massively toned-down production version arrives. But in this case, the concept should give us a good idea of how the showroom version will look: designer Marc Girard told Auto Express: “Here we have 80 per cent of the hard core engineering requirements in terms of aerodynamics and cooling and things like that so we are, in effect, previewing a close to production model.”
Some stuff will quite clearly be for the chop - the slender, heavily raked windscreen doesn’t match the prototypes that have been seen undergoing testing, for starters, and those wing mirrors aren’t feasible either.
There aren’t many nuggets of proper information in the rather grandiloquent press release, but hidden amongst the extensive talk about aesthetics is this:
“Light and shaded surfaces develop in a rising movement towards the rear, then twist to form muscular wheel arches and athletic volumes. All of which shines a bright stylistic spotlight on the car’s rear-wheel drive“
You might think that’s rather obvious, but rumours of the Z4 and the co-developed Toyota Supra successor having hybrid systems have been doing the rounds for a long time, and the expectation was for electric motors to power the front wheels.
A hybrid version might happen eventually, but we don’t think there will be one from launch. As for why, that’s covered in our next point…
We don’t know what’s nestling under the hood of the concept, but thanks to a recent leaked document, we pretty sure there’ll be sDrive20i, sDrive30i and M40i versions, with no hybrids nor all-wheel drive models in sight. All will be available with either an automatic or manual gearbox.
We’re looking at a 2.0-litre, turbocharged inline-four for the 20i and 30i, and a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six for the M40i. Going by the current figures for those engines the Z4 models would pack 181bhp, 248bhp and 330bhp respectively, although power could increase slightly.
We haven’t seen the concept with its roof up (it’s possible there’s no roof mechanism at all), but all the spy shots and footage emerged thus far show the new Z4 having a fabric roof. The last Z4 - the E89 - adopted a fancy folding hard top, but in the process gained a whole lot of weight. Going back to the rag-top style of the E85 should be seen as a good thing.
For a while, people referred to the next Z4 as the Z5, but that wasn’t ever going to happen because of BMW’s naming convention of using even numbers for coupes and cabriolets.
BMW told Autocar: “We would have had to call it the Z6. And while there has been a move upmarket, it’s not quite big enough to warrant that name. In the end, we settled on retaining the Z4 name.”
We’d be surprised if the concept’s bonkers steering wheel wasn’t toned down at least a little bit for the production car, but we really hope its gear shifters stay. They’re delicate little red anodised things living to the edge of the central spokes, partly revealed to the driver via cutaway sections in the wheel.
It’s a lovely little detail on a rather dashing concept, and we can’t wait to see the production car it spawns, and its Toyota Supra cousin…