The wait is over. We finally get to meet the all-new BMW Z4, sister car of the Supra and on show now at the Pebble Beach Concours D’elegance. Unsurprisingly, the first two-seater into the spotlight is the range-topping M40i First Edition, outfitted with a plush kit list and turbocharged straight-six engine to emphasise its leading part as BMW’s new luxury sports car.
This is a big deal though because it means right from the off we'll be presented with a PH-certified Z4. We already know the entry-level cars will get turbocharged 2.0-litre engines when the model reaches market in spring 2019, but this launch variant will use the six-cylinder engine shared with the M140i and M240i, two cars we like very much.
No mechanical changes have been made to the powerplant in the Z4, so it'll offer the same 340hp and 369lb ft of torque. The unit drives the rear wheels exclusively via an eight-speed automatic gearbox – sadly no manual option is on the cards thanks to a lack of demand in this segment – and electronically controlled M Sport differential. With any luck, those will prove to be all the ingredients it needs.
That much was already made clear during our prototype drive earlier in the summer. What we didn’t know then was what the car’s six-cylinder powertrain would be deemed capable of. Now, however, BMW has confirmed it can accelerate the Z4 from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds, which makes it as quick to the mark as a Porsche 718 Cayman S. Not bad going.
More impressive still is BMW’s claim of a perfect 50:50 weight distribution, suggesting engineers have worked hard to keep the engine located as close to the bulkhead as possible. The launch car also gets a new sports suspension setup with electronically controlled damping as standard, which will be key to ensuring that the roadster appeals to a wide audience.
Aside from being the launch car, the First Edition also acts as a halo model for the whole range while it’s on sale. It therefore comes with a plusher kit list and higher specification, with Frozen Orange paintwork and an anthracite fabric for its electrically folding soft top helping it stand out, along with those two-tone 19-inch wheels.
Inside, there’s Vernasca black leather for the electrically adjustable seats and trim, a Harman Kardon surround sound system and BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional. The latter brings BMW’s most high-tech cabin layout comprising a digital instrument cluster and centrally mounted infotainment screen. The manufacturer has said it will announce more details, including specifications for the entire range, on the 19 September. Watch this space!