- Published: Monday, 21 August 2017 23:02
The BMW Concept Z4 previews an upcoming roadster, but are there shades of Toyota Supra, too?
BMW IS SHOWING off its new Z4 roadster in concept car form at the Concours d’Elegance classic car gathering at Pebble Beach in California. The Concept Z4 previews a road-going model that you should see on Singapore roads in 2018, albeit most likely toward the end of the year.
The concept car doesn’t reveal much about the new BMW roadster mechanically, and is more of a styling statement, but there’s plenty we can infer from the car anyway.
There’s a clear return to emphasis on the driver, for starters. The current Z4 is noticeably softer and more comfy than the first one (which was in turn, more hardcore than the Z3), and this new one is meant to be a return to driving satisfaction.
new Z4’s wheelbase is apparently shorter, which should add agility and an eagerness to change direction.
Some styling cues are meant to play this up, too. There are classic roadster proportions — long bonnet, short tail, wheels pulled out to each corner — but if you look at the car side-on, the driver is placed pretty much at the centre.
In the Concept Z4 there’s a playful two-tone interior, too, with the driver and passenger seats in different colours.
Again, that’s meant to visually emphasise how the next Z4 is going to be aimed squarely at people who love to be behind the wheel.
Much of the concept car’s cabin is in the same colour as the exterior, but it’s unlikely that that will feature in the production car.
The pics reveal a neat layout inside, with controls clustered around “function islands”. One pic of the centre console shows the “Adaptive” drive mode that made its debut on the current G11/G12 model 7 Series; it allows a BMW to figure would what sort of mood the driver is in and react accordingly.
Other tasty visual elements that look like candidates for the “maybe” list include the buttresses behind each passenger, as well as the numerous bits of carbonfibre on the bodywork. As for the slim A-pillar and slender front windscreen surround, it would never pass modern crash testing.
The headlights have a relatively high positioning to evoke the Z8 (remember that? If you don’t, it was a muscular, V8-powered roadster from 1999 that James Bond drove), while the double-kidney grille’s angularity and the shark-nose front are a good hint at where BMW’s new styling direction will take its next generation of cars.
Another interesting bit is the clamshell bonnet, which is a huge stamping with crisp lines and two strakes to evacuate out hot air.
Over at the caboose end, super-slim taillights add a touch of visual meanness, and help to emphasise the width of the rear. It all adds up to a Z4 that promises to be much more visually aggressive than the present car, so let’s hope the driving experience reflects that.
As pretty as the Concept Z4 is, and as production-ready as it looks, it leaves us with a couple of things to ponder.
Is the roof going to be soft or hard? We’re hoping for the former, because the weight of a folding hard-top can play havoc with a chassis’ balance, and is one of the reasons we suspect the current Z4 offers such indifferent handling.
What engines will be under the bonnet? 2.0- and 3.0-litre turbo four- and six-cylinder engines are pretty much a given, and should give the Z4 between 184 horsepower and 324 horsepower for starters, but will there be a high-performance M model? For that matter, will there be a plug-in hybrid drive edition with BMW’s iPerformance branding?
Speaking of hybrids, what is Toyota’s influence on the new Z4? The Japanese giant is known to be collaborating with BMW on this car, and will come away with a Toyota Supra based on its running gear.
The Supra will be a coupe, but how else will it be different from the upcoming Z4? What engines will power it, and will it showcase Toyota’s hybrid tech? The last Supra was positioned against the likes of the Nissan Skyline GT-R, remember, back when both apparently had 280 horsepower.
These days the GT-R has 570hp; will the new Supra be super enough to keep up?
While the Concept Z4 gives clear answers as to what BMW’s next roadster will look like, its appearance also raises a few burning questions.