2019 BMW Z4 first look: Back in the roadster game

September 19, 2018

BMW's on-again, off-again flirtation with topless driving changed its status back to "in a relationship" Tuesday when the German automaker detailed its 2019 Z4 roadster.

The latest Z4 will come in two configurations—sDrive30i and M40i—with a choice of turbo-4 or turbo-6 power. An 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters will be the only gearbox on offer for the U.S. market, a major shift from BMW's manual transmission emphasis as recently as a few years ago.

MORE: 2019 BMW X5 pricing announced

The Z4 sDrive30i features a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, while the M40 uses a turbocharged inline-6 good for a hefty 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. In both models, power is sent to the rear wheels only. BMW quotes a 0-60 mph sprint of about 5.2 seconds for the turbo-4 and just 4.4 seconds for the M40i.

BMW plucked the 3-Series sedan's front suspension for the Z4 and paired it to a five-link rear suspension setup. The M40i features a firmer suspension, larger brakes, and a unique rear differential. Those features are optional on the sDrive30i.

The Z4 was co-developed with Toyota, which will revive its Supra nameplate for a coupe version of the car. Not much is known about the Supra, however.

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The new car is 3.3 inches longer than its predecessor, which was last sold in the U.S. in 2016. The Z4's low-slung looks recall the Fiat 124 Spider and the Mercedes-AMG SLS, with hints of conventional BMW DNA such as the brand's signature twin-kidney grille and taillights like those on the new 8-Series coupe.

Unlike the last Z4, the 2019 reverts to a cloth softtop rather than a folding metal hardtop. The BMW Z3 and the first Z4 both featured cloth tops.

Inside, the Z4 features a digital instrument cluster and a wide infotainment screen controlled via a knob next to the gear lever on the center console.

BMW hasn't announced pricing for the 2019 Z4, but the automaker said that it will go on sale next spring. A special M40i First Edition will start things off with special red paint and a black interior—not a bad first date.

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