Andreas Ederer, the product manager of BMW Z4 says that despite not being a fully-fledged M model, the top-of-the range Z4 M40i has beaten the M2’s time at the Nordschleife during testing. With a lap time below 8min, the new Z4 is 3sec faster than the M2.
“The benchmark target during development was the driving dynamics of the M240i,” said Ederer, but upon testing, the car also crossed the benchmark set by the M2.
On launch, the new Z4 will be available in three engine variants. The entry-level sDrive20i uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol mill that puts out 197hp and achieves 0-100kph in 6.6sec. The mid-range sDrive30i uses the same engine in a higher 258hp state of tune and hits the benchmark sprint in 5.4sec. The range-topping M40i employs a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder petrol motor that makes 340hp and 500Nm of torque. It has a top speed of 250kph and a 0-100kph time of 4.6sec – the same time as its key rival, the Porsche 718 Boxster S.
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 100 litres of boot space (now 281 litres) over its predecessor, a lower centre of gravity and a better NVH. This move also means it is a key differentiator with the upcoming, hard-top Toyota Supra with which the Z4 has been jointly developed.
With its engine mounted well back in the engine bay, the new Z4 is said to have a 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution. An M Sport braking system is also standard on the launch model, as are 19-inch alloy wheels.
While all the details of the car are yet to be officially confirmed, it's understood that the Z4 sDrive20i will offer the choice between a standard 6-speed manual gearbox and an optional 8-speed automatic transmission, while the remaining models will all be fitted with the latter as standard. The M40i M Performance also comes as standard with an electronically controlled rear differential.
Ederer said that improved driving dynamics was the focus of the new Z4, 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.”
The brand revealed its new, third-generation Z4 roadster last month. Known internally under the codename G29, it has been developed in conjunction with Toyota’s upcoming Supra with a renewed focus on driving dynamics to take on the Porsche 718 Boxster. In fact, the Z4 is built on a brand new platform which will be shared with the Supra when it launches, next year. Its steel-and-aluminium structure is said to have a unique design, although it adopts chassis, suspension and electrical components from BMW’s cluster architecture (CLAR) platform which was used by the latest 7-series and 5-series. The CLAR platform also underpinned the new X3, X4 and X5 SUVs and will feature in the upcoming seventh-gen 3-series.
The new Z4's structure is claimed to weigh 60kg less than the folding hard-top arrangement of the second-gen Z4, while providing the basis for a lower centre of gravity and what BMW officials describe as “more sporting driving attributes.” Despite increased dimensions (including a significant 70mm increase in width) the Z4 is also said to be around 50kg lighter than its predecessor, suggesting that the M40i will weigh less than 1,500kg. It will be built by Magna Steyr at its assembly plant in Graz, Austria, alongside the Supra.
The interior of the Z4 features a new driver-focused dashboard with technology taken from BMW’s latest sedans. A digital instrument display and a touchscreen infotainment system have been added, along with newly developed seats and a unique set of controls housed within a broad centre console. A long list of options includes a head-up display and a Harman Kardon sound system, both of which are standard fitment in the M40i M Performance First Edition.
It made its public debut in the US at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey, California. Global sales are due to commence later this year for three trims – Sport, M Sport and M Performance (only available on the M40i). The Z4 will make its European debut at the upcoming Paris motor show, when BMW intends to reveal more about its mechanical package.
2019 BMW Z4 image gallery