New 2018 BMW Z4 leaked in the metal

The covers are set to come off the new BMW Z4 very soon, but here's a first candid look…

This is your first look at the all-new BMW Z4 uncovered, as images of the firm’s latest two-seat sports car have leaked on social media. 

Outed by Instagram user @liucunyi, three images of the forthcoming Audi TT rival have been uncovered, confirming that the new car will stick extremely close to the design previewed by the Z4 Concept revealed at the Monterery Car Week last year.

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The car here is an M40i model, which we’ve already driven covered up in prototype form. Power comes from a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight six developing 340bhp and 500Nm of torque, with drive sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Like the Concept Z4, the production car features a soft-top fabric roof. However, the concept’s buttresses have disappeared for a smoother and more considered shape. The widened kidney grille at the front is instantly noticeable, giving the Mk3 Z4 an aggressive appearance similar to the forthcoming 8 Series. The headlamps however are rounder and less menacing, complemented by the large air intakes situated in the bumper.

More traditional wing mirrors are noted on the production car, in comparison to the Concept Z4’s slim, narrow mirrors. The angular grooves along the doors remain, with a traditional vent just ahead of the door seam. The i8-style rear end also features, debuting a similarly slim tail-light design. A pair of round exhausts has replaced the Concept Z4’s pentagonal design. Paired with the looks of the new 8 Series Concept, BMW’s new design language featured on the new Z4 reveals where the German manufacturer is taking the styling of its next generation of cars.

While the images don’t show us the new car’s interior, the Concept emphasised a more centrally situated driving position than on previous Z4’s. Marc Girard, the car’s designer, says this is to really accentuate the fact that the driver is the main focus. On the Concept, the passenger side features the same paint hue as the outside of the Z4, but the driver’s side has its own black colour scheme, again focussing on the driver. This is unlikely to feature on the production version, however.

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Like the 8 Series Concept, the major controls are sited in what BMW calls ‘islands’ so all the driving modes are clustered around the stubby gear lever and the heating controls are around the air vents. The dashpod is an all-digital affair, joining the central infotainment screen to allow a seamless flow of information from the main monitor to the instrument cluster. Whether this transfers to the production Z4 remains to be seen, although whatever the outcome, it’s likely to be highly customisable.

New BMW Z4 engines and performance

BMW is keeping tight-lipped over what engines will power the Z4, but it’s expected both the 2.0-litre four-cylinder and 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged units will feature with outputs ranging from 187 to 340bhp and we would expect a PHEV ‘e’-badged version too. We expect the M40i range-topper to feature from launch, but whether there will be a full-fat M version remains to be seen. This next generation Z4 promises a more focussed driving experience, so the chances of BMW launching a 400bhp Porsche 718 Boxster GTS rival are pretty high.

Q&A with Marc Girard, head of BMW Concept DesignWhat is the inspiration behind the Concept Z4?

“From our heritage, but we want to reinterpret everything at the same time. We’re not doing retro, we want to reinvent key items like the kidneys and headlights and the goal is to make all our cars full of character, keeping the iconic design cues but newly translated for each model.”

How would you say the Concept Z4 differs from the outgoing model?

“The top topic when designing the car was the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’. To make it more agile we reduced the wheelbase – from a semantic standpoint it clearly tells the story that the driver is in the middle of everything.”

So it sounds like it will be sportier than the previous Z4?

“What we want to convey with the proportions is clearly performance – it’s a driver’s car, it’s a sports car, it’s super agile, it’s light-footed and extremely dynamic.”

How close is the Concept to the production car?

“We are basically previewing the production car. Here we have 80 per cent of the hard core engineering requirements in terms of aerodynamics and cooling and things like that so we are, in effect, previewing a close to production model.”

What’s your favourite part?

“That’s hard to say, but I particularly like the fairings behind the headrests with the carbon fibre insert that goes all the way inside and the milled one-piece aluminium which is semi clear coated and semi matt – they’re gorgeous pieces of sculpture.”

And what’s underneath the Concept?

“Oh, a normal BMW engine… we had plenty of choice!”

Do you like the look of the BMW Concept Z4? Let us know below…

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