FRANKFURT – A car that has garnered more ink, or at least pixels, than most any other in BMW’s recent history is on display at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. The Z4 – not named the Z5, as many predicted – is the convertible version of a joint venture with Toyota that will also give the world the upcoming Toyota Supra coupe.
The old Z4 was quite the looker and this one is too, especially in the concept’s shade of coppery orange. The company says it “offers a look ahead” at the production version, which is due to be unveiled sometime next year. It’s based on classic roadster styling, with a long nose, short rear overhang, low-slung wedge-shaped stance, and wheel arches that wrap tightly around the 20-inch tires. The domes over the seats act as rollover bars, but there’s no indication yet if there’s a hard or soft top under that tonneau cover.
BMW says the position of the low-set kidney grille and higher headlights is intended to draw comparisons with the Z8, and the grille openings feature mesh instead of the bars usually found within, in homage to earlier roadsters such as the 328 Mille Miglia. The headlights swing up and away from the grille, and are a sharp deviation from the company’s usual treatment of four horizontal lights.
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There is a lot of buzz online about exactly what’s going to be under that long hood, and exactly how many wheels will get driving power in both cars, but BMW’s being extremely tight-lipped, and the Frankfurt presentation was all about the show – nothing about the go. Still, a photo of the interior released earlier shows an electronic shift lever on the console and only two pedals. Sorry about that, manual fans, although the car is still just in the concept stage and who knows? Anything could happen…
The Z4 concept makes considerable use of aluminum and carbon fibre, including a carbon-fibre insert in the central air intake, and it’s likely that it’ll be lighter in weight than its looks might suggest. The rear is deeply sculpted, with taillights that sweep into the trunk lid, and the rear diffuser is made of carbon fibre as well.
The interior combines black seats, trim panels, instrument panel and centre stack with accents in the exterior colour, separated by a chrome trim strip. All controls are grouped by functions to reduce distraction, with an instrument cluster and centre screen that are set close to each other to give the look of a single panel, along with a head-up display.
So what’s going to be under this beautiful body? Toyota’s been equally silent on details about the Supra version, and while we’ve heard rumours of everything from a four-cylinder, to a six, to a hybrid powertrain, we’re waiting until the launch of the production model gets closer and one, or both, starts talking. Until then, we’ve given you all we officially know.