THE FIRST tangible evidence of BMW’s sports car tie-up with Toyota has been snapped near Munich in the form of the Z4 convertible replacement. From these spy-snaps, it’s the lauded Porsche 718 Boxster, Alfa Romeo 4C, and maybe even Jaguar F-Type firmly in its crosshairs.
Known internally as the G29, the new-from-the-ground-up BMW Z5 is set to surface sometime late next year at the earliest in Europe, with the completely different looking J29 Toyota Supra version said to follow suit not long afterwards. We hear that, unlike the open Bavarian two-seater, the Japanese version will be rebodied as a 2+2 coupe.
Long, low, and wide, the BMW Z5 roadster eschews the BMW Z4’s retractable folding hardtop for the more preferred soft-top variety, bringing with it a lower centre of gravity as well as fewer kilos. The result – we hope – is newfound lightness and alacrity; two virtues missing from the existing German convertible.
Perhaps this will help elevate the BMW above unflattering show-pony comparisons with the Mercedes-Benz SLK and Audi TT. We’ll have to wait and see about that.
Additionally, smaller and lighter turbocharged petrol engines are earmarked for the Z5, though whether this means the acclaimed B58 3.0-litre in-line six as well as the B38 (1.5-litre) and B48 (2.0-litre) four-cylinder units that are most likely to be utilised, is not yet known. Our money would be on a scorching Z5 M six-pot flagship screamer, delivering in excess of 320kW of power…
Of course, whichever modular powertrain is employed, all will be mounted longitudinally up front, behind the axle to help optimise weight distribution, and driving the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual or eight-speed ZF-supplied gearbox. That long nose silhouette – a BMW roadster trademark since the Z3 landed 20 years ago and carried over through two generations of Z4 folding hardtop convertibles (as well as the achingly lovely original M and first Z4 coupes) – is clearly evident in the spy shots.
BMW hasn’t even officially confirmed that the Z5 name will be used, but it is obvious that development is well advanced. Don’t expect to see anything in Australia before late 2018, though we have a hunch that prices may undercut the existing BMW Z4’s $80,000 to $120,000 range.
Meanwhile, the J29 Supra (if that’s what it will be called) will be the first grown-up sports coupe since the classic A80 Supra succumbed in 2002, sitting above our 2012 Car of the Year-winning Toyota 86.
Bring ‘em all on, we say.
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