BMW has given the world an early peak at what the next-generation Z4 sports car will look like – and it’s fabulous.
This Z4 concept was officially showcased at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California on Thursday ahead of the car going on sale in 2018.
And what you see today is pretty much what you should expect to get in 12 month’s time, with the German manufacturer promising that around 80 per cent of the concept design will filter through to the production model.
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Regal roadster: This is the BMW Z4 Concept – an early sign of what next-year’s new model will look like
The new Z4 is due to be available from next year, with prices expected to start from just over £30,000
BMW will hope an overhaul will help the Z4 compete in the roadster sector, with the 2018 model tasked to steal sales from Audi’s TT and Mercedes’ SLC.
More affordable rivals on the market include the Mazda MX-5 and the Fiat 124 Spider, both of which are significantly less expensive to buy than BMW’s most direct competition – and equally as good to drive, if not better.
That makes this a difficult market to dominate.
But BMW will put itself in a strong position if these good looks are retailed for the showroom car that is being promised for next year.
The Z4 concept is very much in a similar mold as the larger 8 Series preview car, showcased in May.
It suggests that BMW’s new design language will be more aggressive than what we see currently, with the roadster sharing many of the styling cues that saw the bigger 8 cause a massive stir earlier this year.
BMW has called the Z4 concept a ‘design study’ for now, but many of the features are expected to be retained, though we doubt the miss-match seat colours shown here – the driver’s side in black and the passenger’s in tangerine to match the ‘Energetic Orange Matt’ paint – will make it to the assembly line.
Out with the old, in with the new: See how the Z4 Concept (left) differs to the current Z4 on sale today (right)
The Z4 Concept follows a similar design philosophy as the 8 Series Concept previewed earlier in the year
The production car is most likely to feature a fabric folding roof to save weight. The concept vehicle has a ‘speedster’ design that appears to have a roof section stored beneath it
As well as the bold seat colour choices, there are a number of other elements that are all-new for the German car maker.
Most notable is the widened kidney grilles at the front, which push the headlights out to the front corners. As with BMW tradition, it’s a double headlamp setup, but the arrangement – with one stacked on top of the other – is a first for the brand.
Moving up the front end, the bonnet is a clam-shell design that stretches part-way down the front wings, helping to form a deep aerodynamic indent running down the flanks of the Z4.
The new Z4 looks set to be more wedge-shaped than before with deep indents running up the flanks of the car
The Z4 concept was officially showcased at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California on Thursday
Inside, the cabin is very much focussed towards the driver, with the passenger having a more minimalist dash in front of them
In all, the design is far more aggressive than the model currently in showrooms, with the wedge-shaped panels, muscular rear haunches and shark-nosed front end echoing the bigger 8 Series sports car concept.
As well as being better looking, expect it to be lighter than the outgoing Z4 too, as it is set to feature a fabric folding roof design rather than a shape-shifting hard-top used for the current car.
The Z4 will have some stiff competition from rival premium-car brands. The Audi TT roadster (left) is the dominant roadster at a similar price point, while the Mercedes SLC (right) is another option
At the more affordable end of the market, the Mazda MX-5 (left) has been the dominant roadster for years. However, the Fiat 124 Spider (right), which uses the same chassis as the Mazda, has become another option for buyers at this price point
What that also means is that the glorious ‘speedster’ look of the concept, with sculpted buttresses behind the seat headrests, is unlikely to be retained for production.
As with many next-generation models, the dash is an all-digital affair with high-definition screens replacing the traditional instrument clocks and function buttons. It’s very much directed towards the driver too, providing an elegant and minimal dashboard section in front of the passenger.
High-definition displays dominate the interior, replacing the traditional instrument cluster of clocks
The wide kidney grilles – synonymous with BMW – are very similar to the 8 Series Concept. It means the headlights are pushed to the corners of the car
The concept featured an obscure split interior colour scheme, with the driver seat and cockpit section in black and the passenger side of the cabin lavished in ‘Energetic Orange’ materials
The rear LED light design is very similar to that of the 8 Series concept, suggesting this is the direction BMW is intending to go with its future styling
Being a concept, BMW gave has given no details away about engine range or price.
That said, you can expect the 2018 Z4 to feature the 2.0-litre four-cylinder and 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged petrol engines currently being offered across today’s model range, meaning a power output of up to 350bhp.
There is also talk of a plug-in hybrid model to be in-keeping with BMW’s drive for electrification, though there is no mention of a hot-blooded M Performance model as yet.
The existing Z4 price range starts from £30,010, so expect there to be a slight premium on top of this.
But if the next Z4 roadster looks as good as this, most buyers are unlikely to be deterred by a mild price increase.