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Paris show: BMW to fast-track Z4 to Australia

Third-gen BMW Z4 to land with all three variants on debut in about March

19 Sep 2018

BMW Group Australia is planning to launch all three variants of the new Z4 from the get-go when the third-generation roadster lands here about March next year, promptly after the European rollout.
The line-up will consist of two four-cylinder variants – 20i and 30i – and one range-topping M Performance twin-scroll turbo 3.0-litre inline six, the M40i, in the debut range that will make its formal appearance at next month’s Paris motor show after being previewed at last month’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
As expected, the new two-seat Z4 misses out on a full-blooded M version, with Z4 buyers having to settle for the M40i with 250kW of power and 500Nm of torque – a boost of 25kW and 100Nm over the 35i in the previous generation that was killed off two years ago after serving for seven years.
However, the power is the same and torque just 50Nm than the Z4 35is sold in some markets towards the end of the previous model.
Sharing its platform with the upcoming Toyota Supra, the new Z4 has grown up, now stretching to 4324mm long (+85mm), 1864mm wide (+74mm) and 1304mm tall (+13mm).
While the track has been widened by a hefty 98mm at the front and 57mm at the rear, the wheelbase has been shrunk by 26mm, to 2470mm, in a move that BMW says aids agility.
The range will open with the 20i powered by BMW’s 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbo four-cylinder producing 145kW and 320Nm and returning a combined fuel consumption reading of 6.1 litres per 100km.
The mid-range variant get the 190kW/400Nm version of the 2.0-litre four cylinder, again recording 6.1L/100km on the combined fuel test in Europe.
Like its four-cylinder siblings, the 250kW/500Nm M40i employs an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission driving the rear wheels.
In the case of the M40i, an M Sport limited-slip differential will be standard, as will adaptive suspension and performance tyres rather and run-flats.
The M40i can sprint from zero to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds, compared with the 30i’s 5.4s and 20i’s 6.6s.
The front suspension – a double-joint strut set-up with aluminium components exclusive to the Z4 – is said to borrow elements of its design from the M4 for improved rigidity and faster response.
All Z4s get a soft-top this time around, dispensing with the folding hardtop of the previous generation, not only saving weight but also lowering the centre of gravity and freeing up boot space that, this time around, is 281 litres – a 50 per cent increase.
As we have reported, the Z4’s new exterior design was penned by Australian BMW designer Calvin Luk who broke with tradition to give the roadster stacked headlights using LED globes.
Inside, a head-up display will be optional, in Europe at least, but because BMW Australia tends to go for a higher level of equipment, it might end up being standard in this market.
In Australia, annual sales of the second-generation Z4 peaked at 299 in 2009.
When it returns, it will go up against Audi’s TT (141 units in 2018 to date), Mercedes-Benz SLC (122) and Porsche Boxster (88).
Z4 prices and final specifications for the Australian line-up will be announced closer to the showroom launch.

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