Renewed roadster is quicker around the infamous circuit than its more hardcore sibling; specs have now been revealed
18 September 2018

The new BMW Z4 is 3secs faster than the M2 around the Nordschleife, according to Z4 product manager Andreas Ederer.

Despite not being a fully-fledged M model, the top-of-the range Z4 M40i has beaten the M2’s time at the Nordschliefe during testing with a lap time below 8min, he said.

“The benchmark target during development was the driving dynamics of the M240i. But the car got so good, that the benchmark is now M2.”

The entry-level sDrive20i, which will make up half of overall volume, uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol with 197hp and achieves 0-62mph in 6.6secs.

The mid-range sDrive30i uses the same engine in a higher state of tune (258bhp) and hits the benchmark sprint in 5.4secs.

The range-topping M40i employs a 340bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol, has 369lb ft of torque and does 0-62mph in 4.6secs – the same time as key rival, the Porsche 718 Boxster S. Top speed is 155mph.

The new Z4 is longer, wider and higher than its predecessor, with its width “most notable,” said Ederer. “The wider track goes out by 9cm at the font and 5cm at back. It gives it more stability in corner and makes car look more grown up.”

The decision to go for a soft top rather than hard top was “made in the first six months of development”. Ederer said the decision creates an extra 100litres of boot space (now 281 litres) over its predecessor, a lower centre of gravity and a better NVH.

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The move also means it is a key differentiator with the upcoming, hard-top Toyota Supra with which the Z4 has been jointly developed.

Improved driving dynamics was the focus of the new Z4, said Ederer, helped by an extremely rigid body structure and chassis mountings, new front and rear axle design and variable sports steering.

An M Sport differential and Adaptive M suspension comes as standard on the M40i and are optional on the 20i and 30i. Ederer said: “The sport differential allows you to steer with the rear rather than on the throttle. It’s one of the most exciting things it can do. We always wanted to keep it rear wheel drive.”

Three trims will be offered in the UK: Sport, M Sport and M Performance, although the latter will only be available on the M40i.

Pricing is expected to start from £36,000 rising to £48,500 for the range-topping M40i when the Z4 goes on sale in early 2019.

The brand revealed its new, third-generation Z4 last month, with a renewed focus on driving dynamics to take on the Porsche 718 Boxster.

The new roadster, which has been developed in conjunction with Toyota’s upcoming Supra, made its public debut in the US at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey, California, with global sales due to commence later this year.

The Z4 will makes its European debut at the Paris show in September, when BMW intends to reveal more about its mechanical package ahead of right-hand-drive deliveries to the UK in early 2019. The initially revealed model is the flagship M40i M Performance First Edition, which uses a 335bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six petrol engine.

The 718 Boxster rival has been designed and engineered from the ground up in a move aimed at reigniting buyer interest in roadsters in the face of dwindling sales over recent years.

BMW Z4 prototype 2018: first drive of new roadster

As well as having a completely new look with more distinctive proportions, the new Z4 adopts an electrically operated fabric hood. The new structure is claimed to weigh 60kg less than the folding hard-top arrangement of the second-generation Z4, while providing the basis for a lower centre of gravity and what BMW officials describe as “more sporting driving attributes”.

Q&A: New BMW Z4 designer, Calvin Luk

The new Z4, known internally under the codename G29, also uses a brand new platform, which will be shared with next year’s Supra in a joint engineering programme between BMW and Toyota. The design of the steel-and-aluminium structure is described as unique, although it adopts chassis, suspension and electrical components from BMW’s cluster architecture (CLAR) platform, as used by the latest 7 and 5 Series as well as the new X3, X4 and X5 SUVs and the upcoming seventh-generation 3 Series.

The Z4 will be built by Magna Steyr at its assembly plant in Graz, Austria, alongside the Supra.

With a brief to deliver more dynamic driving qualities than its predecessor, the new Z4’s platform incorporates extra-wide sill elements that are said to contribute to a more than 30% increase in torsional rigidity over the structure used by its predecessor. When Autocar had an early drive of a prototype back in May, BMW described the new Z4 as the stiffest open-top car the manufacturer has yet built, claiming it to be stiffer than even the fixed-roof M4 coupé.

Despite increased dimensions, including a significant 70mm increase in width, the Z4 is also said to be around 50kg lighter than its predecessor, suggesting the M40i will weigh less than 1500kg. Its 3.0-litre engine is the same as that offered in a number of existing BMWs. With 335bhp and 332lb ft in the limited-volume M40i M Performance model, it propels the Z4 from 0-62mph in 4.6sec and on to a limited top speed of 155mph. Official fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are 39.7mpg and 162g/km respectively.

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The range-topping Z4’s peak power is 3bhp shy of the 338bhp developed by the naturally aspirated 3.2-litre inline six in the old Z4 M Roadster, a performance version of the original Z4 produced from 2006-2008. But while it can’t quite claim to be the most powerful Z4 yet, the M40i M Performance’s 332lb ft peak torque output beats the Z4 M Roadster's by 63lb ft.

By way of comparison, the 718 Boxster S uses a turbocharged 2.5-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder unit with 345bhp and 310lb ft.

Early rumours suggesting the Z4 could be given the option of four-wheel drive on certain variants have been denied by BMW officials, with confirmation that it will be sold exclusively in rear-wheel-drive form.

In a move that would take it into direct competition with the likes of the Jaguar F-Type 3.0, BMW is also said to be developing a Z4 M variant. This is set to feature the same turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine launched in the new M2 Competition, with around 405bhp and the same 332lb ft as the Z4 M40i M Performance. The outgoing Z4 was never offered with an M-tuned variant, backing BMW’s claims that the new car is a more sporting model.

With its engine mounted well back in the engine bay, the new Z4 is said to have a 50:50 weight distribution front to rear. In initial M40i M Performance First Edition guise, its suspension, which uses a combination of double wishbones up front and a five-link arrangement at the rear, features multi-mode electronically controlled dampers. An M Sport braking system is also standard on the launch model, as are 19in alloy wheels.

The interior of the Z4 features a new driver-focused dashboard with technology taken from BMW’s latest saloon models. A digital instrument display and a touchscreen for the infotainment system have also been added, along with newly developed seats and a unique set of controls housed within a broad centre console. Among a long list of options are a head-up display and a Harman Kardon sound system, both of which are fitted as standard to the M40i M Performance First Edition. 

Q&A: Andreas Ederer, Z4 product manager

Who buys the Z4?

The guy who has retired and treats himself; an early to mid thirties’ male with good earnings who wants to show off a bit; and the business woman in her mid thirties to forties.

Why are there no hybrids?

There hasn’t really been a discussion. From the beginning, it was clear we wre not going to do a 48V or 4WD for example. Maybe because we wanted to keep a little bit of heritage, the purest form. Those technologies are also expensive. As a company we want to earn money, we want to product products that our customers want to buy and will pay for. If we had 48V, we would have asked for a much higher price. In this difficult segment it don’t think it would be the way to go. So these ideas were excluded in the beginning.

Will the M40i be enough for Z4 M seekers?

I think so. Not so much the figures but the feel. A group of BMW product managers tried it at Escari track near Malaga. They got out and said we should call this a pure M. The need for an M is not really there.

Did you consider other names for the Z4?

It started development named as the Z4. Then we read about ‘Z5’ in the media, and we discussed it. But even numbers are reserved for more emotional progressive concepts so Z4 makes sense.

How closely have you worked with Toyota?

We developed the car for Toyota. The two cars share a platform. Obviously we come across elements where we say, ‘can we use the same part here and there?’. How far can we go in order to find synergies? One will see some of the same parts on both. But we’ve never compared designs of the two. 

Read more

BMW Z4 review 

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Comments
44

23 August 2018

A two seat sports car really should stir emotion, even when not moving, this looks incredibly dull, as does every mainstream BMW these days. The only ones that have interesting design are the i models in my opinion. 

23 August 2018
Bob Cat Brian wrote:

A two seat sports car really should stir emotion, even when not moving, this looks incredibly dull, as does every mainstream BMW these days. The only ones that have interesting design are the i models in my opinion. 

 

It stired imotion in me - I yawned.

Z85/Z86 - after those it is all downhill.

No manual - no fun

23 August 2018

So do I buy the Ftype because it’s a lovely looking sportscar but not a good dynamically as a Porsche? Or a Porsche? Hard one but I’ve just ruled out a Z4 at least. Why? A sportscar with the feel of a rep car? No thanks!

23 August 2018
TStag wrote:

So do I buy the Ftype because it’s a lovely looking sportscar but not a good dynamically as a Porsche? Or a Porsche? Hard one but I’ve just ruled out a Z4 at least. Why? A sportscar with the feel of a rep car? No thanks!

 

Buy Boxster/Cayman, with the good ole B6.

No manual - no fun

23 August 2018
NoPasaran wrote:

TStag wrote:

So do I buy the Ftype because it’s a lovely looking sportscar but not a good dynamically as a Porsche? Or a Porsche? Hard one but I’ve just ruled out a Z4 at least. Why? A sportscar with the feel of a rep car? No thanks!

 

Buy Boxster/Cayman, with the good ole B6.

...is the right answer, every time!

23 August 2018

I’m in mourning for the old BMW dials - round and perfectly legible at a glance - which were a terrific design. I also miss the kidney grilles (note: 2 of them, not one) and other BMW signifiers that are being thrown away.

23 August 2018
If it drives good it will be great, and I suspect BMW will have that sorted (although they have made mistakes occasionally).

I think it looks 90s Lotus Elan like, but overall it looks good, if not great. Given no one else is doing nice almost affordable sports cars,most of us should be pleased.

23 August 2018
gussy51 wrote:

If it drives good it will be great, and I suspect BMW will have that sorted (although they have made mistakes occasionally). I think it looks 90s Lotus Elan like, but overall it looks good, if not great. Given no one else is doing nice almost affordable sports cars,most of us should be pleased.

Unfortunately not I don't think most of us (at least those truly into cars) will be pleased.

It's a very boring and predictable BMW. It will not stand out pace wise much differently from other BMW's with the same engines. It has the typical unnecessarily large BMW steering wheel which I've never understood. It will be overpriced. It won't be as good to drive as the Porsche - absolutely no chance. It will probably lure in the retired with a few pennies and the pr**ks who want to "show off"....which in turn will make the rest of us detest it! I see plenty of guys in a  mk1 Z4 convertible now (coupe WOULD be cooler) driving round with the top down thinking they're all that to any woman who looks! Laughable!

24 August 2018
gussy51 wrote:

If it drives good it will be great, and I suspect BMW will have that sorted (although they have made mistakes occasionally). I think it looks 90s Lotus Elan like, but overall it looks good, if not great. Given no one else is doing nice almost affordable sports cars,most of us should be pleased.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course.

IMHO the new Z4 is not good looking. There is no idea in all those lines and creases that run through the whole car everywhere. There is no style whatsoever, one line runs there, one runs here, one is rounded, the other is sharp, some stick out here and there in all kind of directions, what are those gills on the sides of the car? They even managed to frak up the kidneys. 

Look at E85/E86, there were Zs going through the whole car, subtle queues to the name, still the lines were clean but design was stand out.

This new Z4 is "put as many different broken lines, creases, bends, depressions etc as possible",  very Korean approach.

Z3 and E85/E86 are modern classics already. This new Z4, 3 months after its release noone will speak about it anymore and by next iteration it will be totally forgotten. 

BMW has morphed into run-of-the-mill car producer since quite a while.

No manual - no fun

24 August 2018
NoPasaran wrote:

Look at E85/E86, there were Zs going through the whole car, subtle queues to the name, still the lines were clean but design was stand out.

This new Z4 is "put as many different broken lines, creases, bends, depressions etc as possible",  very Korean approach.

Chris Bangle got a lot of criticism, but his designs were superb.   And you're right about the original Z4.  Take a moment to look at all the lines and how they work.   He's a design genius.

 

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