BMW arrived at Pebble Beach guns blazing with two new concepts that preview future sporty production models, the previously seen Concept 8 Series concept and the Concept Z4, which was shown for the first time ever. Moreover, BMW North America CEO Bernhard Kuhnt announced that BMW is launching 40 new models—yes, 40—in the next two years! So stay tuned, and say a prayer for their poor staff.
The 8 Series concept previews of course the next 8 series as well as the next BMW “form language,” says Group design director Adrian van Hooydonk. The new language is cleaner and sharper with fewer lines. The new style is not a total rejection of Chris Bangle’s infamous Flame Surfacing, but it is a departure. Herr van Hooydonk says the new language is more sophisticated, and for the 8 Series, sportier than the previous version from the 1990s. I’m not personally in love with the 8 Series concept, especially the hard front that looks as if it wants to bite you. That said, I think the new language works well on the Z4.
From the front, the Z4 concept is clearly, if not forcefully, a BMW. The kidney grilles are larger and lower, with a Nissan-ish lower lip, flanked on either side by massive intercooler intake holes. The grille patterning is nice-looking, though it is quite reminiscent of Gordon Wagener’s 2013 AMG Vision Concept’s snout. From the side, I see a great deal of C7 Corvette and even a little Viper. No bad thing, but I wonder if the shape was more dictated by cooling and aero needs or by crash worthiness. Still, I like the side view. From the rear, the contorted, 3-D taillights dominate, but there’s a slick little spoiler between them that I dig. I am not a fan of the faux-scoops—a repetition of the shape of the front intercooler holes—because they serve no purpose. I suggest the van Hooydonk’s team go stare at the back of a Z8 for a bit, perhaps the greatest rear end of the last 20 years. I think the interior is sharp and modern, but I doubt production versions will actually be two-tone. But hey, that would be cool!
How much Toyota are you looking at? None, according to BMW. The Z4 was developed by the Bavarian company, and all BMWs will be the convertible version. Whereas the Japanese version (Supra) will be a hardtop coupe only. No word on powertrain, but of course the engines will be four- and six-cylinder turbos found in other BMW products. There will be an M version (they didn’t say so officially, but they sure smiled at me when I asked about it), probably packing the S55B30 twin-turbo inline-six found in the current M3/M4. There will be an M8 (finally!), but there were even fewer details about what’s under its hood. Hopefully, it’s a twin-turbo V-12. Expect to see both the 8 Series and Z4 on dealer lots toward the end of 2018.