BMW Z1 AND BMW Z5
BMW's Z roadster could soon grow into a trio of Z-badged models, if new details spilled online by a supposed insider prove authentic.
Posted at the online enthusiast community BimmerPost, the insider described a compact new entry-level two-door, along with a larger tourer above the current Z4's position.
The smaller of the three models would reportedly sit on the front-wheel-drive UKL1 platform developed for the new MINI Cooper and the upcoming 1 Series GT hatch, while the larger model would sit on the new sports architecture developed with Toyota.
Of course, it is already known that BMW is planning a sports model as part of its collaboration with Toyota (conversely, the Japanese carmaker is rumoured to be preparing a new Supra), and these latest whispers mark just the latest talk of a new entry Z.
Reports stretching as far back as 2009 suggested a new Z2 model was in the works, and reports in January suggested a MINI-based BMW roadster is on the cards.
There is also some debate on the names of the new models: the supposed insider has singled out Z1 and Z5 badges, while the Z4 would be replaced by a reborn Z3 model.
It is possible that BMW will take the same tack with the 'Z' badge, positioning the range apart from the new odd/even rule that has so far affected only the 3 Series and 1 Series, where two-door models have split off into 4 Series and 2 Series ranges.
Away from the rarely clear business of model naming, there is the question of business rationale, mechanical packages and styling.
In the case of the so-called Z1, utilising the UKL1 platform would likely also see the next Cooper's engine options carry over to the BMW, from entry-level units to the more powerful engine driving the Cooper S hot-hatch.
The Z1 would also enter as a more affordable sports entry into the BMW family, just as the 1 Series opened the door to new buyers in 2004.
As for the Z5/Z6, the coming sports platform, developed together with Toyota, is expected to underpin this model.
Few details for that new platform have been revealed, although it has also been reported that the next Z4 (and Z3?) will utilise this platform, suggesting a versatile resizeable architecture.
Any number of BMW's existing rear-wheel-drive engine options could feature in the Z3/Z4 and Z5/Z6, although new hybrid systems could also drive both models.
The insider added that the Z5's styling would be inspired by the ConnectedDrive roadster that appeared at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show - a concept that previewed BMW's current styling language.
The larger of the Z models will also have to finding a space alongside the upcoming i8 plug-in hybrid coupe and the giant 6 Series coupe and convertible models.
It remains to be seen if BMW is indeed planning small and large new Z cars - but with platforms ready to go, neither model would be a stretch of the imagination.