It’s usually the case that an automaker’s largest, most profitable, ‘flagship’ vehicle is chosen as the showcase for new technology, with that technology trickling down over a period of several years to other vehicles in the line. But in BMW’s case, the 2-seater Z4 sports car may step into that role, and when it does, it will be featured in the showroom at Braman BMW West Palm Beach.
The first generation of the Z4 started production in 2002 at BMW USA’s Greer, South Carolina plant. Both roadsters and coupes were produced, with the model winning the Automobile Magazine “Design of the Year Award.” The second-generation version, built in Regensburg, Germany, was introduced in 2009 as a retractable hardtop roadster. And won yet another prestigious honor, Europe’s Red Dot Design Award.
Then, in late 2011, BMW and Toyota signed a memorandum of understanding for collaboration on a number of projects, one of which was joint development of a sports car platform. In Toyota’s case, that sports car has already manifested itself in the form of the FT-1 sports car concept.
BMW is playing its cards closer to the vest however, and there has been little information – until now – about a replacement for the Z4, which which may end up radically different to the current car and perhaps see a name change. According to top European car magazine Autocar, BMW will largely be responsible for developing the chassis while Toyota will be responsible for the hybrid technology. This new technology, instead of storing recaptured engine power in a battery will store it in a super-capacitor.
The super-capacitors are much lighter than conventional batteries and can absorb and discharge electrical energy much faster, which is better suited for the sudden bursts of acceleration sports car drivers enjoy.
BMW will reportedly use its own engine for the next Z4, an engine which be mounted up front and drive the rear wheels, while an electric drive system powered by the super-capacitors will power the front wheels, essentially making the car a ‘through-the-road’ all-wheel-drive hybrid. The German automaker will also employ lightweight construction technology for much of the body, using lessons learned from developing its i3 and i8 models.
There is no word yet on when the new car will make its debut, but when it does, Braman BMW in West Palm Beach will be among the first to offer it for sale. And, of course, Braman BMW offers the complete range of BMW Z4 models, as well as the full range of BMW vehicles, including sports sedans and sports activity vehicles.
The current BMW Z4 is a luxury sports-roadster with 2014 upgrades that include a new 18-inch wheel design, and a new side indicator light with a “dynamic sweep” design. The base Z4 sDrive28i gets a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder; the Z4 sDrive35i gets a 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder turbocharged engine; and the Z4 sDrive35is gets an even more potent 335-horsepower in-line six-cylinder turbo.
The sDrive35is has the quickest 0-60 mph time at 4.8 seconds, while the sDrive35i comes in a tick slower at 5.1 seconds, and the sDrive28i takes 5.5 seconds. An available Sport Package upgrades the performance and adds sporty appearance details inside and out. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic for sDrive28i models, while the sDrive35i substitutes a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission for the automatic. The sDrive35is is only available with the seven-speed DCT.