BMW Z5 spyshots: get the latest on the next Z4 – and Toyota’s new coupes, too

Published: 26 September 2016

► Latest on BMW-Toyota joint sports car
► Replacement for BMW Z4 and Toyota GT86
► 450bhp straight six for M version, no hybrids

CAR's spies have captured new images of the BMW Z4 successor, a car that’s part of a co-operative development project with Toyota to develop a new rear-wheel-drive sports car family.

The BMW-Toyota joint sports car project continues to develop apace – and the two brands have seemingly agreed to create different bodystyles to maximise differentiation.

BMW will reputedly 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 the tin-top coupe bodystyle.

This strategy is designed to lessen any cannibalisation, as has reportedly happened with the Toyobaru - the GT86 and Subaru BRZ twins.

2016 BMW Z5 spyshots

It’s thought that the recent 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, or GT86 replacement.

However, more recent spy shots of the Z5 convertible reveal an almost identical interior, among other similar features. Little is known about Toyota’s take on the new platform, so it seems likely that BMW may be exploring a fixed-roof version of its own – hence the car’s presence at its own testing facility. Time, as they say, will tell...

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 Z5, but 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 inhouse V6. Again, it's all about differentiating between the products.  

The good news is that the BMW sports car, codenamed G29 and potentially wearing the Z5 badge, has been signed off and is out for testing, with the latest 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.

2016 BMW Z5 spyshots

The prototype looks compact, with minimal front overhang; the engine is likely positioned as far back as possible for optimal weight distribution. 

There’s not much to learn about the Z5’s design just yet: the camouflage is extensive, and the tail lamps are temporary projectors. We do spy a twin-exit exhaust, however, and every version we’ve seen so far has featured a 7000rpm redline and digital instrument cluster. 

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.

The M division one

We now know that BMW is engineering a Z5M with a 450bhp trademark straight-six turbo. This version will presumably feature a host of other upgrades, including better brakes and suspension systems.

2016 BMW Z5 spyshots

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

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

  • Canvas roof, rather than a folding tin-top
  • Tail lights are temporary projectors
  • A new Z4, a new GT86, and maybe a new Supra too
  • Short front overhang, Bangle-esque bootlid
  • The new car's compact dimensions are evident