The new downsized roadster is called the Z2, and rumors about its possible development have circulated the web for at least three years - without anything real to point a finger at. New reports indicate that the car is in fact in the works, and a new set of computer generated renderings from Motor Authority give us an early look at what may be on the way.
A range of peppy yet efficient four-cylinders is expected, including a 120-horsepower entry-level model and a 211-horsepower turbocharged unit. Pricing targets are thought to be around €25,000 in Europe, or about $34,500.
That's about $10,000 cheaper than the current Z4 in the U.S., putting it at a significant price advantage over its slightly larger, more powerful sibling. Competition in the luxury small-roadster segment is minimal so far, though Porsche and VW are rumored to be working on a similarly-positioned roadster of their own. Mazda's MX-5 and Lotus's Elise are both competitive on performance, but neither aspires to the premium segment like the Z2.
Rather than using a hardtop convertible like so many new roadsters, the Z2 will likely adopt a traditional soft top, helping to cut weight, cost and complexity. Together with the thrifty four-cylinder engine line-up planned, efficiency should be a selling point for the Z2 as well.
Light, small and efficient is a combination that's famously sporty as well, and the Z2 won't disappoint: performance figures are estimated at under 7 seconds to 60mph with a top speed of 150mph. A hybrid variant is thought to be on the table, though no details on its powertrain configuration have yet emerged.
There is also some talk of a high-performance variant sporting BMW's proven twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six, but that unit isn't expected to see production due to a performance potential that would step on the toes of the Z-Series roadsters and possibly even the M3.
Whether the car is eventually built or not, it won't likely see sales in the U.S. in the near term, as even the 1-series Coupes available here are only sold with six-cylinder engines, both naturally aspirated and turbocharged.