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BMW Concept Z4 – in the flesh at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show

Bob Harper
13 Sep 2017

New Concept Z4 previews ‘80 percent’ of the 2018 production car at the Frankfurt motor show


This is the all-new BMW Z4 – or at least around 80 percent of the production car when it makes its debut in 2018 – revealed in Concept form at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance before being paraded once again at the . evo was granted a sneak preview of the car before it was shipped to America and we talked to its designer, Marc Girard, head of BMW Concept design, as we photographed it in a Munich studio. “It’s a driver’s car, a sports car, it’s super agile, it’s light, it’s light-footed – and extremely dynamic,” he says, and while he might be talking primarily about the way the Concept looks he has an infectious enthusiasm that makes us believe this will be translated into dynamic ability too.

The Concept features some intriguing detailing and design elements and while it’s difficult to judge size under the studio lights it does look more compact than the previous Z4 and Girard confirms that it has a shorter wheelbase and subtly altered proportions in order to site the driver in the middle of the car.

> Click here for our drive of the BMW M4 CS

At the front we have a new look to the kidney grilles – not only are they wider than ever before – but they also feature mesh inside rather than the traditional BMW slats. The width of the kidney grilles pushes the headlights to the extremities which has resulted in headlights positioned one above the other – another first for BMW. Like the recently revealed 8 Series Concept there’s a carbon fibre front lower spoiler that rises up at each extremity and when viewed in profile one can see a pronounced shark-nosed profile. With the Z4 Girard has taken inspiration from previous BMW design icons and reinterpreted them; “We definitely want to reinvent everything,” he says, “We’re not doing retro though, we always reinterpret key cues such as the kidney grilles.”

There’s a distinct wedge shape about its profile and where the clamshell bonnet joins the front wings there’s a strong swage line that runs up the car, through the doors before meeting the L-shaped LED rear light clusters. The 20-inch alloys are a reinterpretation of BMW’s twin spoke design while the large air-breather aft of the front wheels leads to scalloped sides rising up to the rear arches. An integrated ducktail spoiler completes the rear end, itself an aggressive amalgamation of air outlets, twin exhausts and a carbon diffuser.

> Click here for all you need to know about the new Toyota Supra

For this generation of Z4 the folding hardtop has been ditched for a fabric hood and for the Concept there are a pair of buttresses aft of the headrests constructed from milled aluminium and carbon fibre – they’re very striking and would look great on the production car but Girard won’t be drawn on whether they’ll make production.

Inside the cockpit is clearly driver-orientated with its black leather driving area and like the recent 8 Series Concept the Z4 features ‘islands’ of controls with the driving tools located by the stubby gear lever and the HVAC controls sited by the air vents and so on. The on-board monitor is larger and links up with BMW’s new-style dashpod to allow a flow of information between the two and Girard says this will feature on future production cars.

As this is still a Concept car, albeit one that’s destined for production, BMW remains tight-lipped on engines and performance figures but expect BMW’s familiar four- and six-cylinder turbocharged petrol units to feature with outputs ranging from 190 to 350hp. Will there be a Z4 M this time around though? There’s no doubt the M3 and M4’s twin-turbo S55 engine would fit… but it may be more likely we’ll see an M Performance version à la M140i/M240i. Either way it will be an intriguing prospect.


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