2016 looks set to be the year BMW loses its crown of best-selling premium brand and, as much as we’d like to think otherwise, the Z5 isn’t going to be the model to prevent that from happening.
BMW has to keep offering a car such as the Z5 – partly because Mercedes-Benz has the SLC, but also because it’s a statement from the brand that it will uphold its values – but financial-wise, it’s probably more of a liability. Roadsters have been underperforming in sales for years, as have pretty much all convertibles, so if this were a purely rational decision, we probably wouldn’t be seeing this video right now.
And yet we are, but there’s a dark reason behind that. Car manufacturers have a history of getting together in times of distress and conjuring up co-developed models that differ from one another in various degrees. BMW, however, has mostly steered clear of collaborations, even if it did borrow some small-displacement engines from PSA for its MINI brand.
It seems like the penury in cabriolet sales has convinced the Bavarians to put away their pride and accept talks with Toyota to build the roadster together. Except Toyota’s car won’t be a roadster, but a coupe, and if rumors turn out to be correct, it will also mark the return of the Supra name. Which should be considered an indication of how good the shared platform is going to be: Toyota has one legendary sporty name left in its arsenal, so if it has any sense, it won’t be putting in on a vehicle that’s anything other than great.
Back to BMW, though, and you can see how the Z5 has now got a canvas roof, which we all know means less weight and, more importantly, a lower gravity center. The new roadster, set for a 2018 sales debut, is still wearing a lot of camouflage, but we can tell you that since it’s built on a completely new platform, the roof won’t be the only part where it will differ from its predecessor. In fact, it’ll be a lot easier to count their resemblances.
As for what matters most in cars like these, the engines, rumors have it that the Z5 will only employ two turbocharged units. One will have four cylinders and will be familiar to you from the 330i model, while the other is an in-line six unit we’ve seen so far in the 440i.
All-in-all, they should provide plenty of power for what is essentially a mid-sized sports car, but that doesn’t mean an M version wouldn’t have been nice. Still, BMW is more than likely German enough to know where to draw the line and focus on profitability.
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