From the early morning coastal fog cloaking the toothy shoreline of the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance emerges a matte orange visage, the fog parted by the creased silhouette of BMW’s latest expression of design. The BMW Concept Z4 roadster has arrived.
The Concept Z4 presents itself as the 2-seat distillation of the company’s currently evolving design language – a complement and continuation of the foundation set forth by the recently unveiled Concept 8 Series. Imbued with a similar, though not identical, attention to proportions as the Concept 8 – here, BMW aimed for the spirit of a sports car vs. the Concept 8’s more luxury-focused intentions – a muscular dynamism paints the Concept Z4 as a wholly new interpretation of the roadster, demolishing the softer curvilinear silhouettes characterizing previous Z3/Z4 vehicles. It’s like BMW sent the Z4 away for a few months of Crossfit, returning lean, mean, and chiseled with muscle in a state of perpetual tension.
In person, the Concept Z4’s angularity communicates both lateral movement of motion with the perception of verticality accentuating the car’s low-slung posture. One can identify many sections sharing design DNA with the Concept 8 Series coupe, just reduced and lowered in servitude of driving in intimate contact with the road and the elements.
From Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design:
The BMW Concept Z4 in an all-out driving machine. Stripping the car back to the bare essentials allows the driver to experience all the ingredients of motoring pleasure with supreme directness. This is total freedom on four wheels.
Those who’ve followed news about this highly anticipated announcement undoubtedly have read about the partnership between BMW and their Japanese counterparts at Toyota in co-developing the shared platform underpinning this concept car, alongside an upcoming return of the Toyota Supra. When asked about this pairing of companies, BMW’s Adrian van Hooydonk emphasized each of the company’s design teams worked isolated from each other, only speaking later in passing, mostly to admire each other’s explorations in affirmation, not in co-development.
“The Concept Z4 is through and through an expression of BMW design, a conclusion that could only emerge from our company’s heritage and focus. Toyota’s car will be something entirely different and represent their goals, but this is completely a declaration of BMW design,” explained the always amiable van Hooydonk.
Those seeking specifics about performance will have to make due for now knowing the eventual production vehicle will be a rear-wheel drive partnered with a straight-six engine; thankfully a manual transmission option will be available, allowing roadster aficionados to enjoy driving old school in a very new school ride.
The Concept Z4 will most definitely see alterations to its aspirational expression in its journey from concept to production, hopefully with only minimal changes to what we like most about its new aggressive personality. BMW insists this show car is close to what we’ll see racing across roads eventually as a 2019 year model, a definitive teaser rather than a wildly explorative concept. With two-seater roadsters becoming an increasingly rare automotive commodity for sports car enthusiasts, we’re excited the segment will soon be served by a design that promises to look as exciting as it drives.