BMW’s Z4 sports car revealed at Pebble Beach

First Edition’ Z4 shown to prospective buyers at blue-chip classic car event


BMW has used the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance (one of the globe’s prime catwalks for hyper-expensive classic cars and their monied owners) before, but usually to debut some exotic concept car or other. This time around, the famous golf course sees the public reveal (well, the public that doesn’t have an internet connection and the ability to search for ‘BMW Z4 leaks’ on Google) of the new… well, the new Z4.

It’s the third generation of BMW’s two-seat sports car (fourth, if you count the original 1995 Z3 as being part of the lineage) and in some ways it’s going back to basics, mostly by ditching the last-generations folding metal hard top in favour of a more traditional (and far more handsome) soft roof.

This ‘First Edition’ model of the Z4 is based around the model’s most potent (for now) engine, the 3.0-litre, twin-turbo, straight-six M40i model, which has 340hp, and which will shove the low-lying Z4 from standstill to 100km/h in just 4.6secs. That’s thanks to a reasonably trim kerb weight of just over 1,500kg, and the fact that the Z4 is very compact. Although it looks larger in the photos, it’s actually around the same size as a Porsche Boxster 718.

Keeping that 340hp under control is a sports suspension setup with electronically controlled dampers, and the clever electronic differential, pinched from the M3 and M5. That almost by itself should be enough to give the Z4 all-but balletic poise and handling.

In spite of the brisk performance, fuel economy and emissions should be quite gentle. BMW claims Co2 emissions of 162g/km and combined fuel economy of 7.1-litres per 100km (39.7mpg).

The styling is rather interesting. The low, swoopy silhouette is clearly an evolution from the last-generation Z4, but the details of the inverted kidney grilles, the angled lights, the perforations for ai to flow through and escape from the bodywork, well they’re rather more influenced by BMW’s X-car SUV, specifically the X2 crossover. And, maybe this is just us, but is there more than a hint of the Mercedes AMG-GT about the way the Z4 looks?

Inside, while the overall shape and style of the cabin is familiar from other Munich products, there are key detail differences. The new all-digital instruments (which are shared with the new X7 SUV and the incoming new 3 Series) are rather more sophisticated and versatile than those of current BMW models, while the centre console gets a new layout and flatter, and wider, controller for the iDrive infotainment system.

Actually, take a look at that iDrive screen. It’s taller, thinner, and more blended in with the main instrument panel than before. In fact it almost looks a little like the screen layout favoured by Toyota… Which should come as no surprise, as the Z4 shares its basic structure and turbo engine with the new Supra, although the Toyota will be available strictly as a coupe. The Z4 debuts as a convertible, but it’s possible that BMW has plans for a hard-top version at some point.

Tech includes a Harmon-Kardon sound system, LED Matrix headlights, a heads-up display, and the new BMW Live Cockpit Professional system, which ties the two big display screens - instruments and infotainment - together, is standard.

Other engines, specifications, and colours other than this ‘Frozen Orange Metallic’ will be available but we’ll have to wait for the Paris motor show in October to hear more details of those.