A new, entry-level roadster based on the 1-series and powered by a range of economical four-cylinder engines may be brewing at BMW. The company's board of directors are expected to make a decision on the car by the end of the year, and if it's approved it could be in production in time for the 2012 model year.
Rumors of a so-called Z2 have been tumbling about the web for at least three years, but so far nothing has come of it. The latest reports indicate that the car is in the works and these new computer generated renderings provide a glimpse as to what it may look like.
That speculation would lead us to believe that a range of four-cylinders, including a 120hp (90kW) entry-level model and a 211hp (157kW) turbocharged unit could be on the table for the smallest of BMW's roadsters. A target price of about €25,000 - at least €5,000 cheaper than the existing Z4 - would put it at the more affordable end of the spectrum, but still far from inexpensive. The soft-top Roadster would be fairly light, however, and the thrifty four-cylinder engines would be efficient. This combination would make it an ideal competitor for cars like the Mazda MX-5 and Lotus Elise.
Performance from the punchy engines would likely be sporting, but not fast: estimates put 0-62mph (0-100km/h) times around 7 seconds, and top speed at about 150mph (240km/h). A high-performance variant with BMW’s 3.0L twin-turbocharged six is reportedly under consideration as is a hybrid model. Configuration would be as a two-seater with a 'weekender' luggage area, suitable for overnight getaways.
Whether the car is eventually built or not, it won't likely see sales in the U.S. in the near term, as even the 1-series Coupes on offer here are only available with the inline-six in naturally aspirated and twin-turbo form. Four-cylinder engines with turbochargers and direct injection could eventually see U.S. sale, but the first applications for them will likely be conservative 3-series sedans, not sports cars.