Sports Cars

Next-gen BMW Z4 shown in prototype form during testing stage

Engineers are putting the roadster's M40i model through its paces on BMW's Miramas test track.

BMW

As the BMW engineers put the finishing touches on the new roadster, the company has given us a sneak preview of the new Z4 -- or at least, of a Z4 prototype wearing lots of camouflage. The Z4 is going through final testing at BMW's Miramas proving ground in France, where these photos were shot.

Specifically, BMW says this is the Z4 M40i, which will follow in the footsteps of other M40i models in terms of performance bits: The company says it has an inline-six engine (likely turbocharged and displacing 3.0 liters), a lowered adaptive suspension, upgraded M Sports brakes and an electrically-locking rear differential. All that will make the Z4 a "whole new benchmark in the roadster segment," the company claims.

BMW Z4 M40i prototype

BMW promises "a tangible increase in sporty flair" compared to the old Z4.

BMW

"The high level of body stiffness and the very rigid suspension attachment provide the perfect basis for a set-up that guarantees the performance qualities of a genuine sports car in terms of steering precision as well as longitudinal and transverse acceleration," Jos van As, BMW's head of suspension application, said in a statement.

Visually, this camo-wrapped prototype looks much like the Z4 concept first revealed last August in Pebble Beach. A long, low hood gives way to a short, two-seat passenger compartment covered by a power-folding soft top, with a wide rear giving the car broad haunches. Key BMW design elements poke through the camo tape, with large kidney grilles and gaping lower intakes in the front fascia, and super-skinny taillights, parallelogram-shaped exhausts and vertical fender vents around back. Like most modern convertibles, there are roll hoops behind the seats connected by a small wind blocker.

The BMW Z4 will be twinned with the forthcoming reincarnation of the Toyota Supra, too. While we still haven't seen a production model of the sports coupe, the Gazoo Racing concept from the Geneva Motor Show provides a strong preview of how the Supra will look.

Though no firm date has been set, BMW says the Z4 will hit public roads soon. And when the concept was shown in Pebble Beach last summer, BMW executives said the roadster (along with the new 8 Series) would debut "next year." In other words, stay tuned to see the fully reborn Z4 before the end of 2018.