Marking the end of its second generation, the BMW Z4 will halt production next month, a spokesperson for BMW confirms. BMWblog first reported that the luxury roadster would close up shop after a seven-year run.
The current, E89 Z4 was introduced first for the 2009 model year with a standard power-retractable hardtop as well as sleeker and more elegant styling than the original, duck-butted Z4.
The E89 BMW Z4, arriving smack in the heart of the recession, was introduced at a tough time for any automaker to be selling a frivolous two-seat roadster. On top of that, the second-gen Z4 took a much more luxurious and grand-touring type approach than its predecessor Z4 and the earlier BMW Z3, leading to a sticker price few were willing to entertain.
Sales of the first Z4 crested 20,000 in 2003, while the E89 Z4 peaked in 2010 with a lowly 3,804 units moved. Contemporary competitors like the Audi TT and Mercedes-Benz SLK fared similarly, given the economic constraints of the market.
The timing makes sense. At the moment Z4 sales are truly in the gutter, totaling a paltry 1,829 units last year. All the while BMW has been testing camouflaged prototypes of a successor, widely rumored to be dubbed the Z5, as part of a joint partnership with Toyota. The Supra will ostensibly be the Japanese fruit to bear, albeit with a fixed hard top, while the Z5 will revert to a convertible soft-top in an effort to get back to its light and nimble sports-car roots.
Rumors are that under the hood will be a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo in various states of tune, but expect no less than 240-odd hp for the U.S. base model. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic, and don’t rule out a larger inline-six engine option down the pipeline, especially for a high-powered M or M Sport model. Look for the Z4’s successor in late 2017, as a 2018 model.