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Sunday, March 30, 2008
2010 BMW Z4 - Spied
Growing up gracefully: By 2010, BMW’s Z4 will have made it through its awkward stage.
BY STEVE SILER, PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRENDA PRIDDY AND THE MANUFACTURER
Although revolutionary at the time—even scoring a job as a James Bond car in four-cylinder form—the BMW Z3 aged quickly, looking almost as retro as the ’50s-vintage roadsters that inspired it.
Then came the controversial Z4, which took the classic (and sensible) roadster lines and redrew them in all sorts of unsettling ways, making it rather hard to look at in spite of how wonderful it was to drive. The hard-cap coupe model made more sense, especially for the sports-car purist. Still, something has been missing, an ingredient essential to any lust-worthy sports car: beauty.
Well, from what we can glean from the spy shots we have gathered for you here, it appears that the Z4’s lanky, awkward days are numbered. For 2010, the Z4 is poised to grow significantly into a far more elegant dancer, with a longer nose, a longer decklid with space for a retractable hardtop, à la Mercedes-Benz SLK, and sheetmetal sculpting along the lines of the 3-series and 1-series on which it’s based.
What we haven’t seen in spy shots to date is a coupe version, signaling that BMW might be content—as is Mercedes-Benz—with a single body style for its smallest sports car in lieu of engineering both convertible and fixed-roof variants.
Under the hood, we expect U.S.-bound Z4s to feature the same naturally aspirated and turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinders as those in the current 1- and 3-series—in roughly the same respective 225- and 300-hp potencies—with a choice of six-speed automatic and manual transmissions.
Other markets will certainly get different choices, including at least one four-cylinder and possibly a diesel to compete with Audi’s new TT diesel. Whether or not those engines make it here depends on a number of factors, including the price of gas and Americans’ willingness to embrace diesel-powered sports and luxury cars.
The next-gen Z4 will not continue to be built in the U.S. at BMW’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, but will be consolidated with 3-series production in Regensburg, Germany. The U.S. plant will be devoted to SUV production, with the X3 moving from contract assembler Magna Steyr in Austria in the 2010–11 timeframe to join the X5 and the all-new X6.
An M version of the Z4 will be part of the story eventually, likely bringing with it BMW’s new seven-speed M DCT Drivelogic double-clutch manual transmission that is slated to replace the unloved seven-speed SMG automated manual in today’s M5 and M6.
But most important, the new car should be beautiful, with the best proportions of any BMW sports car since the Z8. And if anything can guarantee success in this country, it has to be good looks.
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