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Paris show: BMW Z4 benchmarked on M2

BMW uses M2 as benchmark for Z4, but no chance of a full-bore M version

BMW logo8 Oct 2018

By TIM NICHOLSON in PARIS

BMW says it decided against developing a full-fat M version of its upcoming Z4 roadster, despite benchmarking the convertible on its high-performance M2 coupe.
 
The Z4 will be offered with three engine variants including a 2.0-litre 145kW/320Nm 20i, the 190kW/400Nm 30i and the M Performance M40i that pumps out 250kW/500Nm from its inline six-cylinder engine.
 
BMW Z4 program manager Michael Wimbeck said the company’s internal benchmark changed during the course of the drop top’s development. 
 
“We started out with an internal benchmark, which was the M240i in terms of driving dynamics, so that was our benchmark,” he told Australian journalists at the Paris motor show. 
 
“But throughout the development process the Z4 got so good that we left the M240i at home and took the M2 with us. And still the genes and original approach was so good that now we are faster than the M2. So we exceeded our own expectations.”
 
Mr Wimbeck said the company did not consider developing a full-on M version of the car – to sit alongside the M3, M4 and other siblings – and added that the volumes would have been too small.
 
“We thought about it many times back and forth, but in the end we chose not to do this because (for) the number of customers, (we) would need more than this. There is so little and the effort would be too much. Very low numbers.”
 
Mr Wimbeck also confirmed that BMW did not consider developing a high-performance hybrid powertrain for the Z4 as it would have been too niche an offering. 
 
“Basically when you look at the roadster segment, you know how the sales are. In a segment that is more or less shrinking. So it is very much stable from our perspective. But it’s still not worth it to invest so much money to make a hybrid. 
 
“I think with a package of a roadster with small dimensions it would be really difficult to have all of the stuff for hybridisation as well.”
 
The Z4 is the result of a collaboration between the Bavarian car-maker and Japanese giant Toyota, which will launch the mechanically related Supra coupe next year.
 
However there has been confusion about who led the development of the two sportscars, with some reports suggesting that Toyota is claiming the credit, while BMW’s R&D chief said of the project, “we were senior partners, to make it crystal clear”.
 
The Z4 – and the Supra – is based on the BMW CLAR architecture that underpins the new 3 Series as well as a number of other models. 
 
Some reports have suggested that the agreement between the two manufacturers dictated that BMW could only produce a convertible and Toyota could only built the coupe version, however this is reportedly not the case.
 
Despite the conflicting reports, Mr Wimbeck praised the collaboration with Toyota and said the two companies had similar goals.
 
“In my opinion it was very successful and we had a very good relationship and still have a very good relationship with Toyota,” he said.
 
“And for me it was easy to work with Toyota. Because they have the same understanding, they wanted to have a real sportscar as well and that made it easy to work with them because we have the same goal and we … have a pretty good relationship.”

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