Monday, 13 June 2011

Automobile Mag: “Can BMW Build A Real Sports Car?”

Sports cars have never been BMW’s specialty. The 507, the 503, the Z1, and the Z8 were all unloved loss-makers. In a recent article, the US magazine outlines some of the pros and cons of the Z2 underpinning platform.

Initially, BMW planned to build Z2 on the brand's upcoming front-wheel-drive architecture. However, the mere rumor of a front-wheel-drive BMW sports car raised enough of an uproar within the enthusiast community that BMW officials are now considering two far better options.

The first would be to continue developing the car on this platform, alongside the Mini Roadster and Coupe, but to take a page from Audi and make it four-wheel drive. Some undoubted advantages of this strategy are:

  1. A very short path to production.
  2. The traction bonus inherent to four-wheel drive,
  3. The economies of scale offered by hitching up to a high-volume architecture.
The bad news is that Plan B scraps all and pushes the launch back to 2015 or even 2016 and the good news is that this route revolves around rear-wheel drive. The key is the next 1-series.

BMW - Z2 - Red Coupe
BMW - Z2 - Red Coupe 
Although the European-market hatchback 1-series will definitely move to front-wheel drive to compete better with the Volkswagen Golf and the like, BMW is now thinking that the coupe and the convertible should stay rear-wheel drive permanently and perhaps become the 2-series.

Indeed, the company just filed a trademark for the M2 name. The Z2, of course, fits the new nomenclature to perfection and would share the 2-series platform. The Z2 would feature three different 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engines rated from 170 to 270 hp.

In order to avoid overlap with the Z2, the next Z4 might shift up market and grow a bit. A new mark Z6, is also in the cards. The range would likely start with today's 300-hp sDrive35i and go up from there to 340- and 380-hp variants.

Still not enough grunt? Then zoom in on the M Version, which will likely share its 450-hp straight six with the next M3.

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