The world’s most exclusive classic car show has also become one of the biggest new car events of the year, and BMW is just one of the many manufacturers using the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as a place to preview some exciting new concepts and production vehicles.
While we’ve previously gotten a sneak peek at the M8 sports car concept, it’s the first time the Bavarian maker has done more than offer a teaser image of the Z4 Roadster Concept that it now confirms will eventually morph into a replacement for the Z4 model just going out of production.
The two-door show car offers a first glimpse at what appears to be a much more dramatic, sharply creased design direction for BMW. It also lets us finally get a look at the results from an ongoing joint venture with Toyota that will soon yield the rebirth of the Japanese maker’s Supra model.
“The concept expresses the new BMW design language from all perspectives and in all details,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president, BMW Group Design, who helped roll out the Z4 Roadster Concept on the lawn in front of the Lodge at Pebble Beach. “From the dynamic-looking front to the striking flanks to the clean-cut tail end: a few lines and the subtle interplay between surfaces are enough to generate a sense of power and emotion.”
The wedge-shaped two-seater significantly departs from the styling of the outgoing roadster. It adopts a shark-like nose, with an oversized take on the familiar BMW double-kidney grille. Buttresses behind the seats serve as both headrests and rollover protection. The wheels have been pushed to the corners, and creases come together in a deep C-shape formed by the front wheel’s air-breathers. Both front and back wheel arches are much more deeply sculpted, as well.
(20 years in making, BMW’s Concept 8 shows that the M8 is back. For the story, Click Here.)
If the Z4 Roadster Concept had to be compared to anything now on the market it would likely be the current Jaguar F-Type.
Inside, it features a cockpit that is decidedly driver-centric, the gauge cluster and center stack reaching towards the motorist, while the passenger side of the instrument panel tapers forward. The black and mid-brown interior enhances that sense of emotion.
Specific details of the production car, including the name it will go by, haven’t been released, but it is widely expected to be dubbed the Z5 when it makes its production debut next year.
Word has it we will see a wide variety of engine options, though the U.S. is expected to get four and six-cylinder gasoline offerings paired to a ZF eight-speed automatic. We’ll wait for confirmation on whether BMW has retained a manual option.
As you may recall, Toyota and BMW agreed to team up a few years ago to work on a new sports car. It was an odd alliance from a variety of standpoints, considering the stark differences in the positioning of the two brands. But considering the relatively low volumes that two-seaters generate these days, it appears to have penciled in for the beancounters at both companies. And, for Toyota, at least, it certainly offers additional credibility as it brings the Supra back into its line-up as part of a broader push by CEO Akio Toyoda to pump more “passion” into the brand.
(BMW investing $600 mil to expand production at S. Carolina plant. Click Here for more.)
For BMW, there’s the benefit of having an immensely deep-pocketed partner. And the Japanese maker can do some impressive engineering when it wants to.
We’ve seen some spy shots of the Supra in recent months but we’ll have to wait to see just how much variation there is between the two ultimate results of this collaboration. We can only hope there’ll be a lot more than what we saw when Toyota teamed up with Subaru to create what was originally known as the Scion FR-S and the Subaru BRZ.
The Pebble Beach unveiling also gives us the American debut of the M8 sports car concept that was first unveiled at the Concorso Villa d’Este earlier this year. It marks the first time in 18 years that an 8-Series model was in the BMW line-up – or more precisely, will be coming back to the line-up. (We’ll skip past the i8 model in the marque’s BMW i sub-brand.)
“The number 8 and cars like the Z8 Roadster and i8 have represented the pinnacle of sports performance and exclusivity at BMW,” said BMW Chairman Harald Krüger. “The forthcoming BMW 8 Series Coupe will demonstrate that razor-sharp dynamics and modern luxury can go hand-in-hand. This will be the next model in the expansion of our luxury-car offering and will raise the benchmark for coupes in the segment. In the process, we will strengthen our claim to leadership in the luxury class.”
(BMW unveils 3rd generation X3 and first-ever M-Edition. Click Here for the story.)
We expect to see the production version of the M8 in the not-too-distant future, as well.