• It borrows lots of styling from the Z4 Concept
  • The rear end is based on the new 8 Series
  • Black Trim accents the exterior color nicely
  • Two-tone wheels accent the muscular look
  • Convertible Top Can be Stowed in 10 Seconds
  • Wide Center Stack is Home to a New Infotainment System
  • An all-new instrument cluster sits ahead of the dirver
  • Sports Seats with Leather Upholstery are a Given
  • Other technology includes a head-up display and intuitive shifter
  • 0-liter with 340 HP
  • 0-to-60 mph in 4.6 seconds
  • That's .2 seconds faster than its predecessor
  • M Sports Suspension keeps it nimble
  • M Sport Differential gives it traction
  • M Sport brakes mean you can stop

Inspired by the flagship 8 Series

The third-generation BMW Z4 combines styling features seen on the Z4 Concept from 2017 and the flagship 8 Series Coupe. The roadster broke cover at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in M40i trim.

After more than three years of speculation, which included rumors that the roadster might be renamed, the third-gen Z4 made its public debut exactly 30 years after the first Z1 car went into production in 1988. Unveiled at same location as the Z4 Concept in 2017, the third-gen Z4 replaces a seven-year model that was past its prime. Drawing cues from both the Z4 Concept and the 8 Series, the new Z4 raises above the competition in just about every department. Details are still under wraps as far as drivetrains and technology goes, but we can finally take a closer look at the roadster.

Continue reading to learn more about the BMW Z4.

2019 BMW Z4 Exterior

  • Styling cues from Z4 Concept
  • Rear end based on 8 Series
  • Shadow Line black trim
  • Two-tone wheels
  • Sporty front fascia
  • Overall muscular look
2018 BMW Z4 Wallpaper quality High Resolution
- image 791853
Up front, we can see many cues borrowed from the concept car, including the massive twin-kidney grille

The new Z4 is a significant departure from the previous roadster, but it’s by no means out of this world design-wise. However, it looks familiar only because it’s heavily based on the Z4 Concept and borrows some cues from the 8 Series. The latter arrived in 2018, so we’re talking about a brand-new design language.

Up front, we can see many cues borrowed from the show car, including the massive twin kidney grille and the aggressively swept-back headlamps. The grille is also very similar to the 8 Series. BMW also kept large side intakes, although they’ve been redesigned and the black blade that runs toward the bottom to form a splitter was ditched. Unlike the 8 Series, the Z4 sports extra ducts at the corners of the center bumper grille.

2018 BMW Z4 Wallpaper quality High Resolution
- image 791850
Two-tone wheels accent the muscular look
Around back, BMW borrowed heavily from the 8 Series

The engine hood is impressively sporty, with two bulges flanking the center line. What’s more, the sides stretch over the wheel arches, just like on full-fledged sports cars. This has become a trademark feature on all Z cars and it’s great to see that the third-gen Z4 has it too.

Similarities with the concept continue onto the sides as well. Sure, the nose isn’t as pointy, and the flying buttresses were removed, but the production model has the big air breathers on the front fenders and similar character lines, including the sculpted side skirts.

2018 BMW Z4 Wallpaper quality High Resolution
- image 791856
Convertible Top Can be Stowed in 10 Seconds
The First Edition is sold in M40i trim with the BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line option

Around back, BMW borrowed heavily from the 8 Series. The license plate recess has the same position in the bumper, the taillights are slim the run into the fenders, while the trunk lid sports a sharp spoiler. All these features define the 8 Series’ sexy rear end. On the Z4, all of them are a bit more compact and add to the car’s sleek and sporty fascia. The vents in the bumper and the aggressive diffuser with rectangular tailpipes remind me of the concept car.

You might have noticed that the presentation model features black trim. That’s not standard equipment but comes from the fact that the First Edition is sold in M40i trim with the BMW Individual high-gloss Shadow Line option. The regular model will have chrome trim on the grille and bumpers. The First Edition roadster also features a Frozen Orange metallic paint, black mirror caps, and two-tone, 19-inch wheels with a double-spoke design.

The regular roadster will have a milder design, but BMW has yet to release photos of all trim levels as of this writing.

Interior

  • Sporty, wide center stack
  • Brand-new instrument cluster
  • Revised infotainment display
  • Sports seats
  • Leather upholstery
  • Head-up Display
2018 BMW Z4 High Resolution
- image 791815
Wide Center Stack is Home to a New Infotainment System
The center stack is also wider than usual and slightly oriented toward the driver

Inside the cabin, the Z4 doesn’t stray too far from BMW’s recently updated interiors. Being a sporty roadster, the Z4 has the wider and taller center console that separates the driver and passenger compartments. The center stack is also wider than usual and slightly oriented toward the driver from improved access to the controls and the infotainment system.

The latter sits on top of the A/C vents like in most Bimmers, but it’s placed in a trapezoidal unit and "glued" to the instrument cluster hood. It’s like BMW is trying to replicate the system Mercedes-Benz is using in most of its cars nowadays. The instrument cluster graphics are interesting, to say the least. While most cars display round speed and rev counters, the Z4 shows them as arches on the sides, with the navigation map in the center. The speedo on the right side also includes information about the gears and the driving model. Small fuel and temperature indicators are shown at the bottom.

2018 BMW Z4 High Resolution
- image 791813
Other technology includes a head-up display and intuitive shifter
The gear selector is flanked by the engine start button on the left and the infotainment knob on the right

The center console looks rather familiar. The gear selector is flanked by the engine start button on the left and the infotainment knob on the right. The three touch controls below the engine start button suggest that the Z4 has three driving modes: Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport.

The sporty seats feature integrated headrests, but I have a feeling that these are standard only on the M40i trim and the upcoming Z4 M. The standard model should have simpler seats, but they should provide decent lateral support.

There isn’t much info on tech to run by, but BMW said the Z4 comes with a Head-Up Display, which is used for the first time in a roadster. It’s also equipped with the BMW Live Cockpit Professional.

2018 BMW Z4 High Resolution
- image 791818
Sports Seats with Leather Upholstery are a Given
The First Edition model boasts Vernasca black leather and matching stitching

The First Edition model boasts Vernasca black leather and matching stitching, but more color options will be offered on the regular production versions. This car is also fitted with electrically adjustable seats with memory function and Harman Kardon Surround Sound System, both optional on the lower trims.

Finally, the roadster is equipped with a brand-new, electrically operated soft-top. It’s finished in Anthracite with silver effect on the M40i First Edition, but BMW will probably offer at least two more color options on the standard car.

Drivetrain

  • 3.0-liter inline-six
  • 340 horsepower
  • 0 to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds
  • Sports suspension
  • M Sport differential
  • M Sport brakes
2018 BMW Z4 High Resolution
- image 791814
0-liter with 340 HP
In the Z4 M40i, the 3.0-liter inline-six engine cranks out 340 horsepower

BMW chose to unveil drivetrain information for the M40i only so far. Not surprisingly, it gets its juice from the 3.0-liter six-cylinder that delivers more than 300 horsepower in other Bimmers. In the Z4 M40i, the engine cranks out 340 horses. That’s an extra 18 horsepower over the 340i version of the 3 Series, but BMW claims that the figure is provisional, so it could change before the market launch. The sprint to 62 mph takes 4.6 seconds, so it’s safe to assume that the U.S. version will hit 60 mph in around 4.5 ticks.

Much like all M-inspired cars that are not full-fledged M vehicles, the M40i is offered with a range of performance-enhancing options from the company’s M brand. Standard features include a sports suspension with electronically controlled dampers, an electronically controlled M Sport differential, and an M Sport braking system. Combined with the low center of gravity, the 50:50 axle load distribution, and the wide track, the Z4 M40i should be quite an agile roadster on both the road and track.

2018 BMW Z4 High Resolution
- image 791851
That’s .2 seconds faster than its predecessor
Standard features include a sports suspension with electronically controlled damper

The M40i will be joined by at least two more models in 2019. Expect a base model with the 181-horsepower and 199-pound-foot four-banger from the 3 Series and 4 Series, as well as a mid-range version with the same mill rated at around 248 horses and 258 pound-feet.

Rumors claim that BMW might also add a hybrid to the lineup. That’s because the drivetrain will sit on a new sports car architecture co-developed with Toyota, and the Japanese are definitely planning a hybrid. However, some claim that the Germans could opt not to add a hybrid in order to differentiate the Z4 from its Toyota sibling.

Naturally, a Z4 M model will eventually join the lineup with more than 400 horsepower. Power will be provided by a beefed-up six-cylinder similar to the one in the M3 and M4.

Prices

2018 BMW Z4 Wallpaper quality High Resolution
- image 791821
M Sport Differential gives it traction

It’s too early to talk about prices here, but given that it is slightly bigger than the outgoing Z4 and will be positioned higher in the lineup, the Z4 could arrive with a steeper price tag. With the current Z4 retailing from $49,700, the upcoming roadster could fetch in excess of $55,000 before options. obviously, the First Edition will cost more than $65,000 given the extra trim and the powerful engine.

BMW will announce more details about engine variants and equipment features on 19 September 2018, before the roadster’s appearance at the 2018 Paris Motor Show. The worldwide market launch will commence in the spring of 2019.

Competitors

Mercedes-Benz SLC

2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC
- image 659916

Sold as the SLK until 2015, the SLC has been the Z4’s traditional competitor since BMW launched the nameplate in 2002. Updated and renamed the SLC for the 2016 model year, the German roadster remains a solid proposition in this tight niche, but it’s already a bit long in the tooth with seven years of production behind it. The styling is also growing old, as Mercedes redesigned its entire lineup of cars in recent years. Needless to say, the SLC is behind the new Z4 on the technology front too. Drivetrain-wise, Mercedes offers five versions. The SLC 180, 200, and 300 are all powered by four-cylinder engines. The 1.6-liter in the base model delivers 154 horsepower, while the 2.0-liter unit cranks out 181 horses and 242 horsepower, respectively. The range-topping AMG SLC43 model hides a 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 362 horsepower under its hood. Finally, Merc offers a diesel powered by means of a 2.1-liter four-cylinder that’s good for 201 horsepower. In the U.S., only the SLC300 and the AMG SLC43 versions are offered. Pricing starts from $48,400 and $61,350, respectively.

Read our full story on the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC.

Audi TT Roadster

2019 Audi TT Exterior
- image 787297

A more compact proposition to the SLC, the Audi TT is now in its third-generation and was updated to a sportier look for the 2019 model year. While not exactly brand-new, the TT stands a better chance against the Z4 in terms of amenities and technology. Audi offers the TT Roadster with a 2.0-liter TFSI engine in North America. Output sits at 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, and while it’s less powerful than the Merc, it’s actually quicker from 0 to 60 mph, needing only 5.3 ticks to hit the benchmark. Go with the TTS version and the oomph jumps to 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This model will get you to 60 mph in only 4.6 seconds. The TT Roadster is a more affordable option too at $46,400 before options.

Read our full review of the Audi TT Roadster.

Conclusion

2018 BMW Z4 Wallpaper quality High Resolution
- image 791822
M Sport brakes mean you can stop

Around since 2009, the Z4 was in dire need of a replacement. Not only that, but BMW needed a solid roadster to compete against the Mercedes-Benz SLC and Audi TT Roadster. While there’s a lot of info to be had on the new Z4, the German two-door landed at the top of its segment as far as design and technology go. Decidedly more modern looking than the Merc, it also boasts all the cool technology BMW offers at this point. The third-gen Z4 also stands out as a more premium proposition and the fact that it carries many styling cues from the 8 Series gives it a unique, mature look in the compact market. Its success depends on pricing and what Mercedes will do with the next-generation SLC though.

  • Leave it
    • * Pricey compared to competition
    • * Most technical data still a mystery

References

References

BMW Z4

2017 BMW Concept Z4 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 726938

Read our review on the 2017 BMW Z4 Concept.

2015 BMW Z4 - Driven Exterior Test drive
- image 636302

Read our driven review on the last-gen 2015 BMW Z4.

Spy Shots

January 23, 2018 - starts dropping camouflage

2018 BMW Z4
- image 762586
2018 BMW Z4
- image 762589

October 2nd, 2017 - BMW Z4 reveals its real lights

2018 BMW Z4 Spyshots Exterior
- image 735225
2018 BMW Z4 Spyshots Exterior
- image 735235

Update History

Update 08/17/2017: Less than 24 hours after BMW dropped a teaser for the BMW Z4 Concept, someone was so nice that they decided to leak some official photos of the concept car prior to its debut. We’re in the process of putting together an official review for it now, but check out the special “Leaked” section below to see all of the images and just want the BMW Z4 Concept is working with as we discuss it and what will translate into the production model that we’ve been waiting forever for.

Update 8/16/2017: BMW has released its first official teaser for the upcoming Z4, which is set to debut on August 17 during Monterey Car Week. Some are billing it as just a concept while others think this will be the production model. Bimmer has been mum on the details, but let’s take a look at the teaser and discuss it a bit more in a special teaser section below.

Update 7/19/2017: The BMW Z4 was caught doing some more last minute testing. There’s still no official word on a debut date, but this time around, it loses a little more camo and is even closer to being production ready. Check out the latest shots in our spy shot section below and let us know what you think about it.

Update 5/23/2017: The BMW Z5 was caught testing in the wild yet again. It’s also rumored that the car will actually be called the Z4 now that BMW has confirmed that the Z5 name is off the table. Check out the newest spy shots below.

Updated 02/20/2017: The upcoming BMW Z5 has been caught testing with the top down for the first time.

Updated 01/24/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming BMW Z5 out for a new testing session, this time wearing less camouflage than ever.

Update: 09/20/2016: The BMW Z5 was caught testing on the Nurburgring yet again. It hasn’t shed any camo or been seen with the top down, but we have got a decent shot of the interior that gives us a little more to talk about. Check out the interior section below for details.

Updated 07/07/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming BMW Z5 our for a new testing session. Expect the new Z5 to hit the show rooms in late 2017 or early 2018.

Updated 07/04/2016: British magazine AutoCar reports that the upcoming BMW Z5 could be offered with a hybrid drivetrain. Check out the "Drivetrain" section for the full details.

Updated 04/22/2016: The upcoming BMW Z5 was caught testing around the the Arctic Circle. Hit "play" to watch it playing in the snow.

Updated 04/01/2016: Our spy photographers caught the BMW Z4 successor playing around on a frozen lake in Sweden. The new Z5 is expected to hit showrooms in late 2017 or early 2018.

Updated 01/25/2016: Based on the recent spy shots and speculations we created a rendering for the upcoming BMW Z5. Let us know in the comments section below what do you think about it.

Spy Shots

July 17, 2017 - BMW Z4 doing some last-minute testing

May 23, 2017 - BMW Z4 testing in the wild yet again

February 20, 2017 - BMW Z4 caught testing with the top down

January 24, 2017 - BMW Z4 caught testing in the snow

September 20, 2016 - BMW Z4 caught testing at Nurburgring

July 7, 2016 - BMW Z4 caught testing once again

April 1st, 2016 - BMW Z4 caught playing in the snow

January 19, 2016 - First testing session

Leaked – So You Don’t Have to Wait!

Now that we can see the Z4 Concept is all its glory, all we can really say is WOW!. Talk about beautiful. We’re talking optimized proportions, aggressive styling, sharp lines, and an attitude that you can only get from a Bimmer. Just look at the massive air intakes up front and those wide kidney grilles. The angular headlights at a bit of style too, as do the sharp lines in the good. From the right angle, one could argue that it shares its face with that of a shark with a wide-open mouth and an attitude problem:

2018 BMW Z4 Exterior
- image 726936
The wheel arches are undoubtedly smooth and elegant, while the wrap around taillights in the rear give a unique look to the rear corners, even from the side

The side profile is deliberate and well thought out with the main body lines being fed toward the rear from those tall fender vents. The wheel arches are undoubtedly smooth and elegant, while the wrap around taillights in the rear give a unique look to the rear corners, even from the side. The beltline of the roadster sits higher in the rear, giving the car a raked look without the excessive ride height in the rear while the rear deck area is relatively flat and features light contours in all the right places. As this really is just a concept, it’s lacking the canvas top we’ve seen on the Z4 test mules over the last couple of years, but it’s actually quite attractive in this form and could lead BMW to create a genuine roadster production model with a Targa-style, removable roof – now that would be something.

2018 BMW Z4 Exterior High Resolution
- image 726934
Around back, this baby is just as stylish and aggressive with well-defined lines, sleek LED taillights, huge but attractive corner vents, and a dominant lip

Around back, this baby is just as stylish and aggressive with well-defined lines, sleek LED taillights, huge but attractive corner vents, and a dominant lip over the rear diffuser that screams for attention from anyone near. The chrome exhaust tips in the corner are elegant yet functional while the color of the insert around them makes them appear to float freely in the right light. Needless to say, this is one attractive exterior package.

On the inside, the Z4 concept is equally as attractive and comes with a unique two-tone appearance like we’ve never seen. You could almost call the interior two-faced with the way the black and orange Alcantara meet in such a strange fashion in the center of the dash. The seats are also different colors with the driver’s seat being black and the passenger seat being orange. There are some design cues here that follow BMW’s current styling language, but there are also some features that stand out and grab your attention. At a quick glance, it almost looks as if the touch-screen display in the center stack is actually embedded inside the dash, but in this case, things just blend together well. The screen is a floating unit that’s actually taller on the driver’s side than on the passenger side. One has to wonder how this would affect the overall display of the built-in operating system, but it is quite stylish. A simple but attractive digital instrument cluster sits ahead of the steering wheel and offers up just basic information from four dials. All other information will be displayed on the hexagonal screen in the center.

2018 BMW Z4 Interior High Resolution
- image 726906
The steering wheel is also quite unique, with only the bottom spoke connecting the rim to the center hub

The steering wheel is also quite unique, with only the bottom spoke connecting the rim to the center hub. In between the two, chrome center spokes sits a digital lap timer. The side spokes are more for looks than anything as they fall short of reaching the hub by just over an inch, which somehow accents the flat portions at the top and bottom of the steering wheel. The aluminum pedals match the aluminum and chrome trip throughout the cabin while the white backlighting of all audio, HVAC, and shifter controls stands out nicely against the surrounding blackness. As seen from a bird’s eye view, the center console gets the two-tone treatment as well, while the seats are sharply defined via aggressive and deliberate stitching. They look not only supportive but comfortable as well. As expected, there’s no rear seat to speak of, and there would be chaos from purists if there was. There is a bit of storage space in the center, however, so this could provide a bit of cargo room for smaller items.

Now, with all of this in mind, the truth is that this is just a design study. It gives us a basic idea of what we’ll see when the camo comes off the production model seen in the spy shots below, but it’s not likely that a lot of what you see here will shift into production form. It production model could get the digital instrument cluster and new infotainment screen, and it could even see those nice seats and general interior design. It will have a soft-top roof, however, to save weight and the exterior design will probably be slightly toned down.

Teaser No. 1 – The Day Before the Rest of Your Life

2018 BMW Z4 High Resolution Exterior
- image 726635

Over the last year and a half, we’ve seen the upcoming BMW Z4 at least eight times as it puts in work and moves a little closer to production. And, since we can go all the way back to January of 2016, some are saying that the BMW Roadster that debuts tomorrow will be the production model while others claim it’s just a concept. The truth is, we really don’t know, but it wouldn’t make sense to release a concept if the next-gen Z4 was right around the corner. If nothing else, it will be a close-to-production-ready example that will change very little between now and the production model’s debut. With that in mind, let’s take a good look at this teaser – it’s more than generous for a teaser and shows us enough that it’s quite surprising it comes from within the bowels of BMW.

BMW’s new Roadster (or concept) will be very angular, from the shape of the kidney grilles to the headlight LEDs to the wild-looking side profile.

First off, the photo is very high contrast, which is one way to help conceal certain features, but really it’s more there to emphasize the weird fake smoke that blocks a portion of the image. It almost looks like they parked this thing at the edge of a wild wife and went photo crazy, but oh well. What’s more important is what we can see from the image. First off, BMW’s new Roadster (or concept) will be very angular, from the shape of the kidney grilles to the headlight LEDs to the wild-looking side profile. Even the side view mirrors and wheels have exceptionally sharp edges which is really quite a nice change from typical BMW design. As you can see, the rear haunches are quite muscular while the front it is more toned down, leading into the side profile. The headlights feature a staggered layout while the kidney grilles are wider and thinner than ever before.

As a reminder, the Z4 will likely ditch the heavy hardtop and make good use of a canvass top instead – a feature that will change from the last-gen model and will help lighten things up a bit which is good all of the way around. It has also been reported that it will be offered with a number of different engines, including a 2.0-liter four-cylinder (the typical unit from most low-end BMW’s I’m sure) and a 3.0-liter that is, of course, and inline-six. It should be the B58 engine, which currently delivers upward of 335 ponies in the BMW 5 Series. And, because it’s a German car, it will reportedly be offered with a six-speed manual – something that it’s Toyota counterpart won’t have. But, this baby, be it a concept or a production model debuts in less than 24 hours from the time of this writing, so stay tuned for updates in the near future.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: