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BMW Concept Z4 Debuts at Pebble Beach

BMW has just unveiled the Concept Z4 on the pristine, oil-soaked lawns of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. We’re expecting to see an all-new Z4 roadster in production form within the next year or so and this design study offers up a preview of what’s to come. After selling the gorgeous E89 Z4 mostly unchanged since 2009, this new roadster will have a lot to live up to.

This debut also brings another hugely anticipated car one step closer to reality… but today we’re talking new Z4. It’s all design and philosophy talk today but I’ll clue you in on what we can expect powertrain-wise. Click past the jump for everything we [think we] know about it and for some hot takes from some of your contributors.

Some of BMW’s earliest cars have been of the roadster type and they’ve gotten plenty of time to perfect the art of making gorgeous topless cars. As with every one of BMW’s roadsters before it, Concept Z4 adopts classic roadster styling cues such as a long wheelbase, a low-slung, stretched silhouette, and a short front overhang, but they’ve also changed things up a bit. The bonnet is a bit shorter and the overhands are even more compact compared to previous roadsters, all for the purpose of bringing the driver closer to the center of the car.

This alone will give off a sportier and more agile feeling. If there was any complaint to be had about the E89 it’s that it didn’t feel quite as sharp as other BMWs of its day – this could fix that.

The slightly reworked roadster formula is then wrapped in what they call a fresh and confident package enriched with contemporary BMW design language (just ignore their SUVs and that won’t sound like an insult). Its new shark nose spawns “dramatic surface contouring” which extends the full length of the flanks. The kidney grilles are low set and broad with the headlights positioned higher up, which BMW says is inspired by the Z8.

Those four-eyed headlights are a departure from the BMW norm in that they have a more vertical orientation rather than the horizontal look they’ve been doing for decades. And instead of the typical bars you’d see in a kidney grille, this concept has elaborately-designed mesh with a vertical orientation that’s meant to recall early roadsters like the 328 Mille Miglia. Other new features like stylized hood vents which curve over the front wheels and a more more athletic front apron with large air intakes all serve to hint at the car’s performance capabilities.

Along the side of the car is a pair of new Air Breathers just behind the front wheels. The surfaces around it are contoured to follow the flow of air down the side and then rise to form more muscular rear wheel arches to spotlight the car’s RWD goodness. Those flares create broad haunches which are then worked into the wide and low design of the rear end. L-shaped taillights, an integrated spoiler, large air outlets, and a diffuser add an extra kick of sportiness to finish things off.

Keeping with the theme of better driving dynamics, the interior has been redesigned to reduce distractions and serve the driver above anything else. A digital gauge cluster and central information display are mounted at the same level and close to one another so drivers never have to look too far to get what they need. There’s also a HUD for that exact purpose as well. Furthermore, all physical controls are grouped into “function islands” to make things easier to find while on the move.

Even though they didn’t talk about powertrain info at all, we can safely assume their 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 3.0-liter straight-six (both turbocharged) will be your options come next year. This concept sports an automatic gearbox – a ZF eight-speed, most likely – and while I wouldn’t rule out a manual option just yet, don’t be surprised if it’s not there.

The chassis this car rides on has been co-developed with Toyota and is shared with the upcoming Supra, so it’s not unreasonable to assume it’ll be lighter, more rigid, and better suited for performance driving than the outgoing E89 Z4. That said, don’t hold your breath for an M version. Maybe an M Sport version or one with a higher output straight-six at best.

There’s your first glimpse into what BMW is preparing for the all-new Z4. BMW concepts tend to resemble their future production versions quite closely but certain design elements will certainly be toned down a bit for the public. We’ll see more of this new Z4 as its 2018 launch date rolls closer. Maybe we’ll start to see the new Supra soon as well…

Because this is a pretty big deal and is the biggest reveal at Pebble Beach so far, I asked some of your Hooniverse contributors for their take on it. However, we were all preoccupied by the cool quirky stuff in Japanese Classics’ inventory so only a few of us replied. Here are our takes on it:

I’m not quite sold on the Z4 Concept. The back is clean and appropriately futuristic, but the front is too wide and stretched looking for its own good, or at least my personal taste. The design looks like a Z8 and a Fiata came together, and I really don’t know if I consider that a good thing just yet. The interior, at least from what we can see, gives off the impression of being appropriately purposeful, and that steering wheel is absolutely magnificent. When it comes down to it, I just can’t get over how the nose looks head-on. As much as the Z4 Concept seems fun, sporty, and luxurious, much of the appeal of a car like this is the exterior design– and for me, it’s not quite there yet.

-Ross

Speaking as someone who absolutely loved the E89 Z4 and thinks it’s BMW’s best design of the last decade, I’m pretty impressed with what I see so far. What I loved about the E89 is that its design aged super well even as all the other cars ran through one, sometimes two generations of styling. It still looks like it belongs on a dealership even after eight years. This concept Z4 looks striking enough to have that same sort of impact. I don’t know if I’m completely in love with it yet due to some things like the vertical headlights (which appear to be more AMG GT than BMW Z8 like they want you to believe) and the repositioned cabin which shortens the hood (though I completely understand why they did that), but I still like it. I can live without a manual option, but for the love of all that’s holy, they NEED to bring back the sportier “is” variant. The E39 Z4 35is was a blast, so an updated Z4 40is or something with more power and near M-levels of performance would be amazing.”

-Greg

I’m really skeptical about the new nose look on Bimmers. I think that’s the most thought I can come up with. That and I’m just stunned that this car is finally real. I was convinced we were going to get revisions to the Z4 until we died.

-Pattrick

Don’t care.

-Alan

Yeah I’m with Alan on that one

-Jeff

So what about you? Do you love it? Hate it? Can’t figure out why I still like BMW so much? Let us know!

[Source: BMW]