The soon-to-be-released 2009 BMW Z4 will look familiar to sports car enthusiasts, but striking and fresh as well. The next-generation Z4 will also be better by several key measurements.
With its next two-seat sports car, expected in showrooms by late March 2009, BMW has in effect combined two models: the previous Z4 roadster, with its folding soft top, and the fixed-roof Z4 coupe. That's because the new model is the first Z4 with a folding hardtop, like that of the competing Mercedes-Benz SLK. The new Z4's two-piece aluminum roof folds at the touch of button and stores itself under the rear deck in 20 seconds.
If that alone doesn't make the next BMW Z4 better, the new engine/transmission combinations should. All deliver more power than their predecessors, for even quicker acceleration. Yet BMW also predicts better fuel economy across the Z4 line.
The new Z4 retains its conventional sports car proportions and classic sports car look. That means a long hood, big wheel arches, and short overhangs in front of and behind the wheels. Exterior dimensions are similar, too, with a wheelbase nearly identical to the previous Z4, yet about five more inches in overall length. The new Z4's rear deck looks slightly taller than before, probably to accommodate the folding hardtop, but mostly it's just cleaner in its overall appearance. It has a bit less adornment than its predecessor, with fewer creases, more subtle details and smoother sculpting.