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BMW Z4 Photo: Supplied
 
 

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Greg Kable | Aug, 24 2018 | 0 Comments

The third-generation BMW Z4 will take direct aim at the Porsche Cayman S from the very outset of sales later this year, with the initial M40i M Performance First Edition model featuring a turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine tuned to 250kW.

Pictured here in a series of official photographs following its unveiling at the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance in Monterey, USA on Thursday, the new roadster is set to make a more formal debut at the Paris motor show in late September, where BMW intends to reveal more about its mechanical package, prior to a start to right-hand drive Australian deliveries early 2019.

Previewed in lightly veiled concept car guise at last year’s Pebble Beach Concourse, the new Z4 has been newly conceived from the ground up in a move BMW hopes will reignite buyer interest in its sole two-seat model despite dwindling sales of roadsters in many markets, including Australia, in recent years.

As well as boasting a completely new look with more distinctive proportions and tauter surfacing, the 2019 model adopts an automatically controlled fabric hood. The new structure is claimed weigh 60kg less than the folding hardtop 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”.

Further developments brought to the Porsche Cayman rival is a new platform. Shared with the resurrected Toyota Supra, alongside which the new Z4 has been developed in a joint engineering program and will be produced at Magna in Graz, Austria, the design of the steel and aluminium structure is described as being unique, although it adopts chassis, suspension and electrical components from BMW’s CLAR (cluster architecture) platform, as used by the latest 7- and 5-Series as well as the new X3, X4 and X5 and the upcoming seventh-generation 3-Series due out later this year.

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

Despite increased dimensions, including a significant 70mm increase in width, the new Z4 is also claimed to be around 50kg lighter than before, suggesting the Z4 sDrive35is replacing M40i will tip the scales at under 1500kg.

BMW has confirmed one initial engine for the new Z4. The turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder unit is the same as that offered in a variety of existing BMW models. With 250kW and 450Nm of torque in the limited volume M40i M-Performance First Edition model, it is claimed to propel the new two seater from 0 to 100km/h in 4.6sec on the way to a limited top speed of 250km/h. Combined cycle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are put at 7.1L/100km and 162g/km respectively.

Significantly, the 250kW of the new range-topping Z4 model is just 2kW shy of the 252kW developed by the naturally aspirated 3.2-litre in-line six-cylinder engine in the old Z4 M Roadster – a performance version of the first generation Z4 produced between 2006 and 2008. But while it can’t quite claim to be the most powerful Z4 yet, the M40i M-Performance’s 450Nm of torque pips the Z4 M Roadster by a solid 85Nm.   

By comparison, the Porsche Cayman S runs a turbocharged 2.5-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder delivering 257kW and 420Nm of torque.

Known internally under the codename G29, the new Z4 is also set to be sold with a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. It is claimed to develop 110kW and 250Nm in a planned the entry-level Z4sDrive20i and, in a higher state of tune, some 195kW and 390Nm in a mid-range Z4 sDrive30i model.

While full details are yet to be revealed, Drive has been told the base Z4 sDrive20i will offer the choice between a standard six-speed manual and optional eight-speed automatic, while the remaining new Z4models will all be fitted with a standard eight-speed automatic. The M40i M-Performance also comes with a standard electronically control M Sport rear differential.

Despite early rumours suggesting the new BMW roadster could offer optional four-wheel drive, this is denied by Munich officials, who confirm it will be sold exclusively in rear-wheel drive guise.

In a move that would take it into direct competition with the likes of the Jaguar F-Type Roadster 3.0, BMW is also said to be developing a Z4 M variant of its new roadster featuring the same turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine launched in the new M2 Competition with around 302kW and the same 450Nm as the Z4 M40i M-Performance.

With its engine mounted well back in the engine bay, the new Z4 is claimed to boast a 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution. 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, receives 19-inch wheels and tyres as well as electronically controlled dampers. An M Sport braking system is also standard on the launch model.

The interior of the new BMW features a new driver orientated dashboard with digital instruments and a touch-screen monitor for the infotainment functions as well as newly developed seats and unique controls within a broad centre console. Among a long list of options is a head-up display and Harman/Kardon sound system – both of which are featured on the M40i M-Performance First Edition.  

 
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