BMW is returning into the roadster market with the revival of the Z4 -- a car whose predecessor helped to spark a renaissance in small sporty coupes and burnished the brand's driving bona fides with the Z1, and later the Z3, in the 1990s.
Cars may be going out of style in favor of SUVs and crossovers with today's new-vehicle shoppers, but BMW and some automakers are convinced roadsters can still deliver some brand sizzle in the showroom -- even at lower volumes.
BMW is hedging its bet with the newest Z4. Rather than going it alone, the Z4 shares a platform with Toyota's revived Supra sports car to keep engineering and development costs in check. BMW took the lead in the creation of the common platform under a joint agreement signed in 2012.
The automaker unwrapped the limited special edition Z4 M40i First Edition roadster on Thursday in Pebble Beach, California. It was previewed as a concept a year ago in Pebble Beach.
Powered by a 340 hp, straight six-cylinder engine, it will accelerate from 0 to 100 kph (62 mph) in 4.6 seconds. Also available is a BMW M tuned sports suspension with electronically controlled dampers, M Sport braking system and an electronically controlled M Sport rear differential.
BMW said it will announce details of further engine variants, technical innovations and equipment on Sept. 19. This will be followed its trade fair debut at the Paris auto show in October.
The Z4 has its worldwide market launch next spring, BMW said.