It has been three years since BMW and Toyota signed a product development partnership that’s expected to spawn sports cars for BMW and Toyota.
Spy photos have finally emerged of the BMW car -- a replacement for the Z4 roadster that could be called the Z5. Toyota is expected to revive the Supra nameplate with its variant. They are scheduled to go on sale in 2018.
The rear-wheel-drive cars are expected to be equipped with BMW engines and a lightweight BMW chassis, as well as a plug-in hybrid powertrain from Toyota.
The biggest design change on the BMW -- and it’s not clear whether it will make it to production -- is a fabric roof. The current Z4 has a retractable hard top. A coupe is also expected.
The spy art shows a car that’s bigger than the Z4 with a dramatically different rear end that ditches the current car’s rounded styling.
Toyota showed hints of the future Supra with the FT-1 concept car at the 2014 Detroit auto show. The sports car had aggressive styling with sharp creases and appeared bigger than the BMW captured in the latest spy photos.
It’s been rumored that BMW’s next Z car will use carbon-fiber technology introduced on the i3 electric car and i8 plug-in hybrid. BMW executives have said it’s an expensive move and they will be selective in how much carbon-fiber is adopted -- especially on less-expensive models.
The current Z4 debuted in the spring of 2009 and is the oldest model in BMW’s lineup.