It was in 2011 that we first caught wind of BMW and Toyota’s plans to jointly develop a “mid-size sports car platform” to spawn replacements for their respective Z4 and Supra models.
Today we have new spy shots of a prototype for the BMW, which we’re expecting to be called a Z5. Adopting the new name links the car with BMW’s legendary 507, and it should also enable the automaker to position the car higher than the Z4 and thus charge a steeper price.
The higher positioning is supported by the larger size of the prototype compared to the Z4. The shots also reveal similar proportions to the Z4 though there’s expected to be a soft-top roof as opposed to a retractable hard-top. We can also make out the new grille design in one of the shots.
The higher positioning should translate into improved performance. After all, the new car will be going up against entry-level versions of cars like the Jaguar F-Type and Porsche 911. The base model may end up with an inline-4 but we’d expect an inline-6 option to prove the most popular. All should feature turbocharging as standard.
2018 BMW Z5 spy shots – Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
While there’s been talk of hybrid technology being used, BMW will likely forgo this to differentiate the Z5 from Toyota’s Supra successor, which has also been spied and is expected to go the gasoline-electric route. Sadly, we’ve heard there’s no plan for a BMW M-tuned version.
Look for the debut of the new BMW sports car, whatever it’s labeled, in late 2017 or early 2018. It’s too early to talk pricing but expect a premium on the $50k starting price of the Z4. The good news is that the higher positioning of the Z5 may pave way for a new entry-level sports car in BMW’s lineup, a model rumored to be called the Z2.
As for the new Supra, Toyota has already previewed the car with its series of FT-1 concepts.
Though yet to be confirmed, it’s thought the jointly-developed models will be built at a Magna-Steyr assembly plant in Austria starting in 2018. Sharing a production facility makes sense considering the low volumes of pricey sports cars.