Audi TT RS coming to the U.S. – Is there a need for a BMW Z4 M?

BMW Z4 | September 27th, 2010 by 16
Z4-Vergleich-01

After a Facebook campaign that generated a lot of buzz in the automotive world, Audi fans have finally seen their dream come true. Audi of …

After a Facebook campaign that generated a lot of buzz in the automotive world, Audi fans have finally seen their dream come true. Audi of America put out the word that the TT RS, the high-performance sports roadster, will be in U.S. dealerships by the third quarter of 2011.

With little competition in America, Audi seem to have found the sweet spot for the TT RS. The car will cater to true enthusiasts that are looking at the best-bang-for value, associated with driving thrills and high-performance.

The car is faster, cheaper and better looking than the Porsche Cayman S, and sports an economical, yet fast 5-liter 2.5 liter turbo engine. TT RS puts out 360 horsepower and 332 lb-of torque. The engine was developed “exclusively” for the car, and won International Engine of the Year honors. Quattro system is included by default, another famous selling point for Audi.

Audi TT RS coming to the U.S.   Is there a need for a BMW Z4 M?But what Audi TT RS really stands out with is the six-speed transmission. And this is where BMW fans come in. When the Munich-based company announced the launch of a new Z4 Roadster, everyone wondered when and if a Z4 M version will follow. BMW quickly came forward, unofficially, and crushed the dreams and hopes of their fans. With the economic crisis hitting hard every automaker, BMW felt there is no business case for a full-on M version of the Z4.

To alienate the pain, BMW started working on sport version of the Z4. Dubbed Z4 sDrive35is (see our test drive), the enhanced and faster “is” came to the market earlier this year with a 3.0L twin-turbocharged direct-fuel-injected inline-6 and 335 horsepower at 5,900 rpm/332lb-ft of torque. But, contrary to what enthusiasts expect or crave, the Z4is is offered only with a 7-speed Dual Clutch transmission.

Audi TT RS coming to the U.S.   Is there a need for a BMW Z4 M?

With quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed transmission, the Audi TT RS runs to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds, while the Z4 sDrive35is gets to the same speed in 4.7 seconds.

A marginal difference if you ask us, but different execution and driving style. Sure, a Z4 M would never be a high seller for BMW, nor it will help them increase the profit margins, but without a supercar at the end of the scale, a super-sporty M-based roadster could have maintained the hope that BMW has not forgotten their DNA and their enthusiast drivers.

Going back to 2006, BMW surprised everyone with the introduction of an M Roadster based on the E85 Z4. The car was powered by the same 3.2 liter, 8,000rpm, S54 inline-6 engine as the E46 M3, delivering 330 horsepower through a manual gearbox and a new 6-speed manual transmission.

Since ///M stands for more than just power boost, the M Roadster borrowed performance parts from the M3, including the CSL’s compound (aluminum hubs, iron floating rotors) brakes and most of the M3′s suspension components. Other changes include a hydraulic steering setup which provides better feel than the electric system in standard Z4 models.

In a single phrase, a true Z4 M, different and pure.

So, we pose the following questions:

With Audi TT RS coming to the US, the top market for BMW M cars, is there a need for an Z4 M? Would have it made sense for BMW to plan for one? Would BMW enthusiasts think about jumping ship to TT RS?

Lots of questions and of course, speculations since we don’t hold the key to the market data or research performed by BMW, but nonetheless, questions we are obligated to ask.

Rendering by Gerald Alvarez

  • ferrarifan

    you never know. BMW might release a new Z4M with the future M3 engine..

  • bob

    Well, Audi TT fans *say* they’ll buy the RS. That remains to be seen, tho…

    Until then, here’s some market data:

    1). In the US, sales for the German entrants in this market segment — BMW Z3 & Z4, Porsche Boxster/Cayman, M-B SLK, and Audi TT — peaked in 2000. For 2009, sales for the group were off ~78% from peak.

    Welcome to the New Economy!

    2). During same time period, 2000 -> 2009, Audi of America saw the sales of their TT fall ~84%.

    Good Luck(!) to Audi if they think these promises will materially alter the overall trend in the marketplace.

    In my estimation, these same trends were contributing factors for BMW to take the E89 upmarket; switchng production from Spartanburg to Regensberg.

  • Joe

    Audi has really been stepping up the game to try anything to chip away at BMW’s ///M throne. Not sure what the #s will be for this new Audi but if it makes $$ sense ///M might reconsider. Good to see manufacturers not forgetting the enthusiast.

  • http://ebrake.blogpsot.com Andrew

    I actually voted on Facebook to bring the TT RS here. Why? The United States needs more performance-oriented models like this from different brands – hopefully it’ll light a fire under some companies to follow suit.

    As for performance and whatnot, I think the TT RS and Z4is are probably going to be an even match. I also think they’ll come in right around the same price too. My money is on the BMW – of course.

    However, I would not be opposed to a fixed roof Z4 M Coupe with a 420HP V8 like the ones running in GT3 :-)

  • Wooo hoo.

    See, now THIS is a drivers car! This thing has style, flair, and status. The 1er has none of that.

    • adc

      The attributes you list – flair, style and status – are precisely the ones that DON’T make a driver’s car. Just saying.

      • XC

        I would take a 1M every single time. Flair, style and status, altough of some importance, are simple pleasures… simple minds, simple pleasures…

  • T

    When you look at what had happened with the previous Z4? basically we are making the same noises as we did before.

    The problem back then, amongst some markets aversion to the radical E85 Z4 Concept. Was the close proximity to the end of the E46 M3 which is why the decision was taken to move ahead with a Z4M /Coupe to increase sales off of the E85 platform.

    Now as we move into the launch cycle of the 1M Coupe in over about two months,
    we have a strategy alongside the M3 providing sales in light of the premium M-Models being discontinued apart from the X5M and X6M.

    As it is known there is only certain amount of units for the 1M, and the M3 will end production in 2012. Leaving the M Division with it’s upper Premium Performance models M5 and debuting in 2012 the M6 and of course the X5M and X6M.
    There will be nothing for the segmen below that will be inherited by the 1M and ruled by the M3 until both next generation models debut in 2014.
    Leaving marketing no choice but to plug the gap with a Z4M.

    Whilst the fantasies remain to have a V8 M Roadster the decisions being discussed point to the inclusion of the engine based off of the N54 and found in the 1M to offset the costs for development of that stand-alone powerplant.

    As for a Coupe? If BMW decide to do a Coupe and one was designed alongside the Roadster . It could retain a similar appearance to the previous Coupe or simiply be a transplant of a fixed roof found on the GT3 car which has been tested intensively on a road car sDrive35iS Z4.

    It’s being discussed in the same way as before, So it is more “When” rather than “If”.

  • BIMMER1

    Yes, they should build the Z4M coupe and roadster. But they should not have come out with two non ///M models of the roadster, and then thought about adding the M later. Although they’ve said all along there is no plans for a new M roady/coupe. What they should have done is just offered a Z4 3.0 for entry level and a ///M version for the top of the line, with no twin turbo unless it was in the M version. Maybe they could have had a limited run 3.5iS, but it’s too late for that now. I still say make the M version and cut the 3.5sdrive out. it’s unnecessary. If people really want the power, they’ll buy the M. Otherwise, make the base version look like the 3.5sdrive version and you’re better off IMO.

  • viper

    Would absolutely love to see the Z4M but in lieu, the 1M Coupe will do just fine even though it’s not a direct rival to the TTRS. I think embarassingly for Audi, the 1M will be a better drive even And it will have 2 functional rear seats And be compact.

    But please do give us a Z4M BMW! What can be more worthy of an M badge than the Z range aimed at pleasure seekers. More fun M’s and less lardy M’s please!

  • M-Roadster

    Why wouldn’t BMW build a new Z4M? They already have everything they need for a new Z4M. And as long as they don’t use a turbo-engine in it i’ll be the first to buy!

    Imagine the new Z4 with a 4.0 V8 from the current E90 M3 under the hood… Jummy!

    • http://ebrake.blogpsot.com Andrew

      poor sales of the last model? A buddy of mine got his E85 M Coupe for $11k off the sticker – new and with no trade-in – when he bought his. Why? With a slower economy nobody was buying those cars and it isn’t exclusive/costly enough to reach the echelon of buyer who can afford to pick one up whether the economy is up or down.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500443678 Kunal Bhandari

    S65 + Z4 = Joy

  • http://www.pickuptruckscenter.com Jenny Louis

    Audi preform a new version in TT RS, which high performance. About BMW has came in Z4 M is nice. Z4 M is different and pure to other.

    http;//www.pickuptruckscenter.com

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  • ARON

    Does anyone else miss the M coupe? Hard-top convertibles are sweet, but a rigid body makes all the difference. Build one—M, or otherwise—and I’ll buy it.

    No? Okay. Thanks for listening, BMW.

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