Ther German automaker BMW is preparing another iteration of their affordable open air roadster, the Bavarian version of the Z car, that competes head to head with the world’s best selling drop top, the Mazda MX-5. With the release of the all new BMW Z4 , the automaker has introduced a much more attractive version of their fun to drive convertible by trading in the rounded bodylines for a much more sculpted and angular figure. However as the cars get newer and equipped with even more features, the one time affordable compact sports car has turned into a much more luxurious and expensive vehicle straying from the original Z1’s roots.
As automakers are looking to downsize their lineups in an attempt to move more units, it would appear that BMW i s trying to tap back into what made the original Z1 so popular with a future Z2 compact roadster. Combining the agility of a lightweight fun to drive vehicle with the best in German engineering at an affordable price point a new Z2 roadster for 2011 would be quite a treat.
Continued after the jump.
The sales of the Z4 are not at all satisfactory for BMW. As the Z4 was placed higher up in the BMW hierarchy than the outgoing Z3, the automaker is left with an unfilled spot in their lineup, one where the Mazda MX-5 stands out in a class of its own as an affordable, simple and fun to drive drop top roadster.
In order to fill that empty space, BMW will launch a completely new smaller roadster, with less than 4 meters in length. A lot lighter than the Z4, the new model will offer engines with no more than 2,000 cc, but instead will compensate by using turbochargers, that will allow for a top of the range M model to reach 300 bhp.
The low-end model will feature a 1.8 liters, naturally aspirated engine with 150 bhp, not exactly a supercar, but a moderate fast and affordable BMW, capable to deliver driving excitement.
The technical platform will be shared with the next generation Z4, but it will be lighter and slightly simplified for the Z2. Also minimalist in conception, the Z2 will not be entirely stripped down, and will offer goodies such as the active steering, dual clutch transmission or dynamic adjustable dampers.
The BMW Z2 will be priced under the $30,000 range and is expected to make its debut in 2010.
The BMW Z1 (Z=Zukunft, in german means future) was produced from July 1988 to June 1991. The Z1 featured unusual doors which, instead of opening outward or upward, dropped down into the door sills. Only 8,000 copies of the Z1 were produced. The vehicle was never exported to the United States.
It was powered by a 2.5 liter inline-6 engine with an output of 170 hp at 5800 rpm and 164 lbs-ft of torque. The car had a curb weight of 2756 lbs.
One of the most interesting features of the Z1 is its unusual doors. These doors retract vertically down into the car’s body instead of swinging outward or upward. The inspiration for these doors came from more traditional roadsters which often feature removable metal or cloth doors. Because removable doors did not fit within BMW’s design goals, the retractable doors were installed instead.
Because the body, with its’ high sills offers crash protection independent of the doors, the vehicle may be legally and safely driven with the doors up or down.
The BMW Z3 was the first modern mass-market roadster produced by BMW, as well as the first BMW model assembled in the United States. It was introduced as a 1996 model year vehicle, shortly after being featured in the James Bond movie, GoldenEye. There were a few variants of the car before its production run ended in 2002, including a coupe version for 1999. It was manufactured and assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The Z3 was replaced by the BMW Z4 in late 2002 at the Paris Auto Show.
The BMW Z3 was developed from the E36 platform of the 3 Series. The resulting platform is sometimes referred to as the E36/7. The rear semi-trailing arm suspension from the E30 was used rather than the more sophisticated multilink suspension from the E36. At first, just the 1.9 L M44B19 straight-4 engine was offered, though its 138 hp made the car less of a performer than many buyers wanted. Interior appointments, too, were not up to the standard of other BMW models, and the plastic rear window looked especially bad compared to the glass unit found on the much-cheaper 1999 Mazda Miata.
This little four was complemented by a pair of straight-6es in 1997, the 2.3 L and 2.8 L M52B28. The 2.8 L engine, taken from the 328i, was especially desirable with its 189 hp. The M Roadster appeared in 1998 with a 3.2 L S52B32 I6, just as the four was retired.
The Mazda MX-5 is considered one of the greatest sports car of all time and the best selling two-seat convertible. It is a challenge for the best car designers and engineers. The car’s success is due to the sense of oneness and dynamic harmony between man and machine, philosophy which stands behind the brand new third-generation 2006 Mazda MX-5 Miata.
The MX-5 is powered by the new 2.0-liter engine featuring an aluminum block and head and the intake manifold and cam cover are made from lightweight composite plastic. The new 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine has an inspiring exhaust note and is brilliantly responsive. It reacts to driver commands with lightening-quick reflexes and offers progressive power delivery. Such linearity is the key to all of the MX-5 Miata’s driving controls. The MZR-series engine is shared with the engine used in Mazda 3, Mazda 5 and Mazda 6.
The maximum power is 170 hp at 6,700 rpm. For good tractability and ease-of-driving, at least 90% of peak torque (140 lb-ft) is available from 2,500 rpm to the 6,700 rpm redline (fuel cut off is at 7,000 rpm).
The vehicle is available with a standard close-ratio five-speed manual transmission and a new six-speed manual gearbox, with gear ratio close-stacked to enhance the joy of sporty driving. By use of triple-come synchros on the first four gears, short quick shift strokes have been achieved.
A fresh dimension to the MX-5’s personality is added by a new Sport A/T automatic transmission. Six ratios improve acceleration, driving refinement and freeway comfort. Paddles mounted behind the steering wheel command upshifts while buttons positioned on the spokes are used for downshifts. Coordonating engine torque with the shift sequence, the gear is smooth, seamless and fast.
The Eos is based on the new Passat platform and contains many interior pieces from the Jetta and Golf. The coupe/cabriolet employs a folding metal roof that incorporates an innovative sunroof that slides open before the top actually starts on its way into to the trunk, should you only want limited sun exposure.
The Eos is available in one high quality trim level coming standard with stability control, front and side airbags, and a roll over protection system. Also available for the EOS are bi-xenon cornering headlights, and a ten channel audio system.
The Eos is available with four gas engines (performance spectrum 85 kW / 115 hp, 110 kW / 150 hp, 147 kW / 200 hp and 184 kW / 250 hp) as well as a 103 kW / 140 hp strong TDI with standard diesel particulate filter. For engines up to 147 kW a four cylinder direct injection system is used. The 184-kW option gets its power from six cylinders; gear changes are made via the DSG double clutch transmission.
The 2007 Eos 2.0T offers 200 horsepower and 207 lbs.-ft. of torque from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. High-pressure, FSI helps with performance and efficiency. The 2007 Eos 2.0T is EPA-rated at an estimated 23 miles per gallon in the city and an impressive 32 mpg in highway driving.
The top Eos model is powered by a 184 kW/250 bhp engine. The V6 powerhouse reaches its maximum torque of 320 Newton metres between 2,500 and 3,000 rpm. The driving performance is consequently very smooth. This Volkswagen with a top speed of 247 km/h can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just 7.3 seconds. The average fuel consumption is 9.2 litres. The Eos V6 is equipped with what many experts deem to be the most efficient automatic gearbox in the world: DSG. The dual-clutch gearbox distributes the drive power to the front wheels via six forward gears.