The Z4 is a gorgeous piece of art, especially in a matte colour that shows off the curves and edges. Not so noticeable is a 10-centimetre increase in front track width and 6.5 centimetres at the rear. Photo: BMW

A BMW/Toyota collaboration clearly benefits both brands

A BMW-Toyota partnership creates two vehicles so dramatically different that they’re impossible to compare

Three years isn’t an overly long time to wait for a new or renewed model to arrive. It must have felt like an eternity, however, for die-hard BMW fans awaiting a new Z4 sports car. They went cold turkey from model years 2017 to 2019 after the previous Z4 retired.

Worse still, fans of the Toyota Supra sport coupe have spent more than two decades wondering if and when their favourite nameplate would reemerge.

Well, the wait for both models has ended, thanks to a new platform jointly engineered by both automakers.

For Toyota, a modern interpretation of the Supra coupe was the goal, while BMW’s stylists crafted a two-seat-convertible shape that’s particularly stunning. The up-sweep of the Z4’s body creases flair out just above the taillight lenses, while the rocker panels are cut upward in the same fashion. Add an aggressive-looking nose with dominating air intakes, and the new Z4 makes a bold statement with a more substantial stance.

It’s about 10 centimetres longer than the previous convertible (most of that increase is ahead of the engine bay) although the distance between the front and rear wheels is reduced by about 2.5 centimetres.

The distance between the left and right tires — the track width — has been upped by nearly 10 centimetres in the front and 6.5 centimetres at the rear.

BMW states the design achieves a 50:50 front-rear weight balance, which is considered ideal for handling control and ride comfort.

The Z4’s power soft-top deviates from the previous version’s rather complex folding setup. The new top weighs less, which helps lower the car’s centre of gravity, and takes up less room when folded, which means increased (by 50 per cent) trunk space. The top can also be opened and closed at vehicle speeds of up to 50 km/h.

The aluminum-trimmed dashboard is elegant and the controls are straightforward. There’s a 12.3-inch gauge display plus a 10.25-inch information/navigation screen controlled by BMW’s iDrive rotary dial on the centre console, just to the right of the shifter.

The sDrive30i runs with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that’s rated at 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The more performance-oriented M40i is equipped with a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder that puts out 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet.

Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes — optional with the sDrive30i and standard with the M40i — adjust engine, transmission and steering responses according to driver preferences. A locking differential maintains equal torque split between the rear wheels, which BMW says makes for greater cornering precision.

Those who prefer to shift for themselves will be saddened that a manual gearbox is not offered. Your only transmission choice is an eight-speed automatic with manual controls.

The four-cylinder model will accelerate to 60 mph (96 km/h) from rest in a BMW-recorded 5.2 seconds, while the six-cylinder cuts that time to 3.9 seconds.

The four-cylinder sDrive30i will be the thriftiest of the pair, although final numbers for it haven’t been released. Consumption for the M40i is known, however: 10.3 l/100 km in the city and 8.0 on the highway.

For $65,450 (including destination charges and fees), the base Z4 gets a 10-speaker audio system plus some active-safety technologies such as forward-collision warning (with low-speed braking), pedestrian detection and lane-departure warning. A Driver Assistance Package with dynamic cruise control, blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert is optional, as are M sport seats (more side bolstering), premium Harmon Kardon-brand audio and 19-inch wheels (18 inchers are standard).

Also available is a back-up assistant that will automatically steer the Z4 into a parking spot while the driver controls only the accelerator and brake pedal.

The BMW/Toyota collaboration has clearly benefited both brands, but if fun in an attractive wrapper is what you seek, the Z4 makes a great choice.

What you should know: 2020 BMW Z4

Type: Two-door roadster

Engines (h.p.): 2.0-litre DOHC I-4, turbocharged (255)

3.0-litre DOHC I-6, turbocharged (382)

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Market position: The joint effort between BMW and Toyota in platform engineering and development has resulted in the creation of two very individual sports models that go their own way in design and purpose.

Points: The execution of the roadster’s looks is head turning. • Interior design is classic BMW, with straightforward modern controls. • Base turbo I-4 provides plenty of power, but the turbo I-6 delivers much greater output. • The lack of a manual transmission for either powerplant will be a disappointment for some. • More size makes the Z4 more useable.

Driver assist: Lane-departure warning (std.); emergency braking (std.); pedestrian detection (std.); Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.);

L/100 km (city/hwy) 10.3/8.0 (M40i); Base price (incl. destination) $65,450

BY COMPARISON

Porsche 718 Boxster

Base price: $67,600

Mid-engine roadster is available with outputs ranging from 300 to 414 h.p.

Jaguar F-Type convertible

Base price: $76,200

Roadster and coupe models come with four-, six- and eight-cylinder engines.

Toyota GR Supra

Base price: $66,750

Basically a coupe version of the Z4, but has 20 more h.p. than the sDrive30i.

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, be sure to visit TodaysDrive.com to find your dream car today!

-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media

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