The upcoming Z5 will indeed replace the Z4 in the company’s lineup

The BMW-Toyota partnership is beginning to take shape with more news about what’s in store from this marriage. Rumors have circulated since the two automakers announced the partnership back in January 2013, a lot of which has been centered on the revival of the Toyota Supra and the development of the next-generation BMW Z4. However, more recent reports claim that the next BMW Z4 won’t be the fruit of the Bavarian automaker’s collaboration with its Japanese counterpart. Instead, it will be a Z4 replacement that will be called the Z5.

After more than three years of unconfirmed speculations, the Z5 has made several public appearances as a camouflaged prototype. Our paparazzi caught the roadster during cold weather testing, which suggests that BMW has been working on this new model for quite some time. The camo is thick enough to keep the Z5’s design features hidden, but I do have an idea about what lurks under the swirly, black-and-white wrap.

What I do know for a fact is that the new roadster will ride on a new architecture that will make it sportier than the Z4. Also, the big unveiling should take place sometime in 2017. The Z5’s Toyota sibling, which will look completely different on the outside and likely revive the Supra nameplate, should brake cover around the same time. Have a look at my speculative review below for more information and stay tuned for updates.

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.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 BMW Z5.

Spy Shots

May 23, 2017 - BMW Z5/Z4 testing in the wild yet again

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February 20, 2017 - BMW Z5 caught testing with the top down

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January 24, 2017 - BMW Z5 caught testing in the snow

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September 20, 2016 - BMW Z5 caught testing at Nurburgring

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July 7, 2016 - BMW Z5 caught testing once again

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April 1st, 2016 - BMW Z5 caught playing in the snow

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January 19, 2016 - First testing session

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Exterior

While it’s very difficult to spot any precise design features through the camouflage, it’s quite obvious why this roadster is a replacement for the Z4. It sports a long hood, a short rear deck, short overhangs, and a low driving position. It also seems to be slightly longer and a couple of inches wider. Another important difference compared to the Z4 is that it features a soft top instead of a folding metal roof.

"Styling-wise, it seems to have a significantly larger twin-kidney grille that sits lower in the fascia."

Styling-wise, it seems to have a significantly larger twin-kidney grille that sits lower in the fascia. The lowered nose and the bigger grille should provide a more aggressive stance. The headlamps also appear to be larger and, based on recent BMW design updates, they should be connected to the grille’s chrome frame. The front bumper is well camouflaged, but a three-piece outlet configuration with a wider center opening is very likely.

Our rendering of the Z5 includes all of the above, and if the roadster turns out to be close to our artist’s vision, it will be one sexy Bimmer.

From the side, the Z5 appears to have a less muscular stance. Both the front and rear fenders seem flatter and give the roadster an almost featureless beltline. However, I’m gonna wait until the roadster losses some camo to draw a conclusion.

The prototype’s rear fascia offers even fewer hints. The vehicle doesn’t have its production taillights on, while the bumper’s features are well hidden under the thick wrap. The trunk lid, however, is in many ways similar to the Z4’s and comes with an integrated spoiler, while the license plate recess have been moved upper into the fascia.

Interior

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*** As you can see from the interior shot above, the new Z5 is rocking a cabin layout that is kind of a mish-mash between old and new ***

As you can see from the interior shot above, the new Z5 is rocking an interior that is kind of a mish-mash between old and new. It sports and instrument cluster and floating infotainment display much like that of the 2016 BWM 3 Series, the down below that floating display is a somewhat dated pair of HVAC vents and audio controls. These could be decoys like the front fascia, or it could be BMW’s goal to mix the old with the new.

Another thing I would like to note is the steering wheel. Unlike the new 3 Series, the steering wheel looks to have a rather large center hub, similar to that found in older Ford and GM vehicles as opposed to the sportier units found in newer Bimmer vehicles. This will probably be changed by the time the car is production ready, however, there is a sticker covering up the emblem on the wheel, so it’s quite possible that this is the production wheel.

Unfortunately, that’s all we can make out, but it’s good enough for now. We’re lucky we’re even getting a look at the inside with the top still up and for that we’re grateful. BMW obviously still has some kinks to work out as you can notice that the instrument cluster is has warning lights lit up, and there is a wrench emblem displayed along with some German writing down below the two primary gauges. It’s hard to make out for sure, but it looks like the instrument cluster might be digital, which would be a nice tough. Also, we can’t make out the size of the infotainment screen, but based on the fabric covering it up, it looks like it will be as large, if not larger, than the display in the new 3 Series.

Drivetrain

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*** Engine options are still unknown, but given BMW’s recent strategy, the base model should have a turbocharged, four-cylinder under the hood ***

Engine options are still unknown, but given BMW’s recent strategy, the base model should have a turbocharged, four-cylinder under the hood. The same unit will probably be available with higher output in an upper trim version, while a 3.0-liter inline-six should motivate the range-topping variant. A high-performance M version could also be developed, but it won’t break cover until around 2018.

Reports are suggesting BMW might also add a hybrid to the lineup, and while some claim that the Germans could opt not to in order to differentiate the Z5 from its Toyota sibling, which will most likely go the hybrid route, such a drivetrain is more than likely given the company’s current strategy.

The drivetrain will sit on a new sports car architecture co-developed with Toyota. But even though they will share components, each platform will be different from one another, with BMW’s expected to deliver a sportier experience. Transmission choices should include both manual and dual-clutch automatic gearboxes. Also, the Z5 could get optional all-wheel drive.

Prices

It’s too early to talk about prices here, but given that it is slightly bigger than the Z4 and will be positioned higher in the lineup, the Z5 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.

Competitors

Mercedes-Benz SLC

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Sold as the SLK until 2016, the SLC has been the Z4’s traditional competitor since BMW launched the nameplate in 2002. This rivalry is likely to continue when the Z5 hits the market and finds the new SLC as a segment benchmark. Redesigned and renamed for 2016, the SLC crosses the pond to the U.S. with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder unit under the hood. The four-pot cranks out 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, which hits the pavement through a 9G-Tronic automatic transmission. It needs 5.7 seconds to hit 60 mph from a stop and hits a top speed of 130 mph. Pricing will start below the $50K mark, which will make the SLC a more affordable proposition to the Z5.

Find out more about the Mercedes-Benz SLC here.

Audi TT Roadster

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A more compact proposition to the SLC, the Audi TT is now in its third-generation and can be had with a 2.0-liter TFSI engine in North America. Output sits at 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, and while its less powerful than the Merc, it’s actually quicker from 0 to 60 mph, needing only 5.3 ticks to hit the benchmark. It’s also significantly more affordable at $46,400 before options.

Read more about the Audi TT Roadster here.

Conclusion

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Around since 2009, the Z4 is in dire need of a replacement, and it seems that the Z5 will take its place in the lineup starting the 2018 model year. Although it shouldn’t be a radical departure in terms of styling, the Z5 will likely have a different position in the company’s roster. Not only bigger, the Z5 should also stand out as a more premium proposition. It’s not yet clear what engines will help it move about, but should it receive a powerful inline-six and an M badge. The upcoming, larger Z5 could give the base Jaguar F-Type a run for its money and give BMW access to a new niche. On the other hand, the Z5 could be a bit too expensive for the new SLC, but it all depends on the technology and drivetrains that Bimmer will bring to the market.

  • Leave it
    • Pricey compared to competition
    • Design and technical data still a mystery

Update History

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.

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