BMW Z1, Z3 and Z5 in the Works
BMW appears to be in the process of turning the spotlight to its Z Series after a report by Motor.es suggests that the German company wants to reignite the lineup to create three new models wearing the "Z" badge. According to the Motor.es report, BMW is considering fielding an entire lineup of Z models, covering three separate units that will be differentiated from one another in some form or capacity.
The smallest of these new models is the Z1, which we haven’t seen since 1991. The new Z1, which will be built in both coupe and roadster versions, is expected to use BMW’s UKL1 platform, the same platform used by the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and the new Mini Cooper. This makes sense because it’s going to help Bimmer cut production costs knowing that it has a modular architecture that is versatile enough to tweak depending on the model using it. The new Z1 is also reportedly getting three- and four-cylinder engines to go with a front-wheel-drive system.
Moving to the Z3, it appears that BMW is juggling with the idea of developing the sports car to be a direct competitor to the Porsche Boxster and Cayman. Like the Z1, the Z3 will also be offered as a coupe and a roadster and will be characterized by a lightweight design to take advantage of the bevy of powertrain options the company plans to give it, including three-, four-, and six-cylinder engines.
The other big news surrounding the new Z3 is that it will reportedly be built in collaboration with Toyota’s own development of the second-generation GT 86. We haven’t heard this news before so it definitely has us intrigued about the possibilities of the new GT 86 getting some form of input from BMW.
Last but not least is the oft-rumored BMW Z5. It’s no secret that BMW wants a sports roadster to compete against the likes of the Porsche 911 and the Mercedes-AMG GT. The Z5 could become that car. Motor.es touched on some rumors we discussed back in July 2014, including the joint development of the sports roadster by BMW and Toyota and the German’s plan to introduce the Z5 as a replacement model to the Z4.
Turns out, the Z5 will reportedly carry the same classic proportions attributed to the Z Series, including the long hood and the large headlamps that will be attached to the front kidney grille. The Z5 will also be offered as a coupe and roadster and will reportedly feature four- and six-cylinder engines with power numbers ranging from 270 horsepower to 400 horsepower. A top-of-the-line, 500-horsepower hybrid model is also part of BMW’s plans for the Z5.
Most importantly, the BMW Z5 is the first car of the BMW-Toyota partnership that will hit the market, possibly around 2017.
Click past the jump to read more about the future BMW Z models.
Why it matters
Expanding a lineup isn’t exactly a brave new world for BMW. This one, though, is a little bit different because the Z Series isn’t like the rest of BMW’s other models. The Z Series is particularly known for being the automaker’s sports car line. The fact that it’s been relatively dormant all these years is a crime in itself. But now it appears that Bimmer is prepared to revive the line with a full offering of sports coupes and roadsters.
We’re actually surprised that BMW didn’t decide on taking this step sooner, especially with the influx of high-powered sports cars entering the market in recent years. When all that was happening, BMW seemed content with its M Division taking the fight to its competitors. It wasn’t until the company announced plans to develop the i8 that people started wondering whether BMW was really serious about engaging in the tried-and-true sports car segment.
The i8 certainly did its part and then some, but the return of the Z Series is the clearest sign that the German automaker has its eyes now firmly set on chasing down the titans of this segment. Whether it’s a legend like the Porsche 911 or a fellow new kid on the block like the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT, the return of the BMW Z Series should be enough reason for its rivals to all start looking at their rear-view mirrors.
Right now, the only model waving the Z Series flag for BMW is the Z4. The most recently updated Z4 was first unveiled at the 2013 Detroit Motor Show and to the chagrin of many, it didn’t really come with a whole set of new features, other than some cosmetic updates like updated LED headlights and new wheels.
This is precisely the reason why everyone’s looking forward to the new Z Series, which is apparently coming with three new models in the coming years.
As it is, the existing Z4 is powered by two engine options, beginning with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that pumps out 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, allowing it to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and a bigger 3.0-liter inline-six that can pump out as much as 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque to go with a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.8 seconds.