► BMW-Toyota joint sports car project
► Replacement for the BMW Z4
► BMW will be convertible, Toyota a coupe
Look what we've spotted out testing again! This might be the 100th time we've seen the next-generation Z4 roadster, but this is our first look at the production lights of BMW's new roadster.
Both the head and rear lights are lifted entirely from the Z4 Concept that was first shown at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and then the 2017 Frankfurt motor show.
Looking closely at the front end, it looks as if the double-stacked headlights have remained from the concept car, even if the upper lamps have been hidden by translucent covers. At the rear, the light clusters have quite a fluid shape to them, much like the i8 plug-in sports car.
CAR talked to Adrian van Hooydonk at the 2017 Frankfurt show, and he said 'in our new form lanuguage, we want to make cars cleaner and have sharper lines. With the Z4, it's very different and a very new facial expresstion; the grille doesn't have slats but mesh like our history and the headlamp treatment is very different.'
'We want you to be able to distinguish which models are which in your rear-view mirror; sporty cars like the Z4 will have a low, wide grill while taller cars like the new X7 will be more vertical.'
What can we learn from the interior spyshots of the BMW Z4 replacement?
The sheet on the dash says this is a Z4 s20i, with a ‘B48’ engine – in BMW code-speak that’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine (its B47 stablemate is a diesel). The paperwork suggests this particular example turns out 145kW (194bhp) and 320Nm (236lb ft) of torque, and this one’s quite clearly linked to a six-speed manual H-pattern gearbox. The same engine may be made available with a higher power output too – think an s30i, for example.
Also on the helpful cheat-sheet is what looks like a scheduled production start-date of November 2018, although industry-watchers suggest other variants may reach the market earlier than that.
This is a joint sports car project between BMW and Toyota, right?
Indeed – and the two brands have seemingly agreed to create different bodystyles to maximise differentiation.
We understand BMW will stick with a soft-top roadster variant and has abandoned plans to engineer a clumsy folding hard-top. Toyota, meanwhile, is thought set to stick to a fixed-head coupe bodystyle.
This strategy is designed to lessen any potential sales cannibalisation, as has reportedly happened with the ‘Toyobaru’ - the GT86 and Subaru BRZ twins.
It’s thought that previously published spy shots of a fixed-roof coupe version, spotted at BMW’s test centre – and wearing Munich plates, M4 GTS wheels and featuring a BMW interior – may in fact be the Toyota Supra.
Spyshots of new BMW and Toyota sports car
BMW’s Z4 replacement is an all-new sports car spun off the chassis co-developed with Toyota. Not only will the modular chassis underpin BMW’s new Z4, but rumour has it that Toyota’s next-gen GT86 will also use a shortened version of this platform – while the Supra would use the full-length version complete with in-house V6. Again, it's all about differentiating between the products.
The good news is that the BMW sports car, codenamed G29, has been signed off and is out for testing, with previous shots showing it tearing around the Nürburgring. The spyshots also confirm that the Z4 replacement will revert to a folding soft-top, as will the next 4-series convertible. That should help save weight, which is naturally a key priority.
The prototype looks compact, with minimal front overhang; the engine is likely positioned as far back as possible for optimal weight distribution.
What engines will the new BMW Z4 use?
Given it’s a BMW, expect four- and six-cylinder power: there should be room for the latter in the versatile architecture, especially if Toyota wants to strongly demarcate the GT86 and potential Supra.
Apart from the aforementioned B48 2.0-litre four-pot, the turbocharged B58 six cylinder engine and eight-sped auto gearbox as seen in the M140i is thought to be earmarked for the top-spec regular Z4 model – a more-powerful-still Z4M variant may follow.
Every version we’ve seen so far has featured a 7000rpm redline and digital instrument cluster.
The M division one
It’s believed that BMW is engineering a Z4M with a 450bhp trademark straight-six turbo. This version will presumably feature a host of other upgrades, including better brakes and suspension systems.
BMW and Toyota’s alliance: a recap
The German-Japanese relationship began in 2011, and includes collaboration on fuel cell cars, as well as BMW supplying diesel engines for European Toyotas such as the Avensis. The sports car alliance was launched in a second wave a few months later; sadly, the sports cars themselves aren’t expected until 2018.
The rumour mill suggests BMW and Toyota may soon announce an extension of their agreement, this time to include a joint, low-cost, front-wheel drive architecture to underpin future city cars, such as a baby Mini and next Aygo.
See more spyshots here