BMW sports cars…a topic that has been highly debated on BMWBLOG in the past five years. The topic become even more controversial back in 2008 when BMW unveiled the later-canceled CS Concept, a new sports car with proportions that would have placed it against high-end offerings from Porsche, Aston Martin, Maserati and others.
Instead of a new Z8 or CS Concept, BMW delivered in the last years the Z4, a good-looking vehicle but with extra weight and a hard rooftop. But the rumormill continued to churn and the idea of a smaller, driver-focused Z2 Roadster came to focus in the last couple of years. The Z2 was said to use for the first time a BMW front-wheel-drive architecture and to compete with vehicles like the highly successful Mazda Miata. Of course, the FWD rumor stirred up even more controversy in the BMW enthusiasts community.
Recently, BMW insiders said that the company is now considering a rear-wheel-drive platform that will align the new Z2 with BMW’s core values.
But, according to Automobile Magazine, a third viable option just came up among BMW officials: developing the car on the FWD platform, alongside the Mini Roadster and Coupe, but to take a page from Audi and make it four-wheel drive.
In a recent article, the US magazine outlines some of the pros and cons of the Z2 underpinning platform.
Initially, BMW planned to build the Z2 on the brand’s upcoming front-wheel-drive architecture. However, the mere rumor of a front-wheel-drive BMW sports car raised enough of an outcry within the enthusiast community that BMW officials are now considering two far better options. The first would be to continue developing the car on this platform, alongside the Mini Roadster and Coupe, but to take a page from Audi and make it four-wheel drive.Among the undisputed advantages of this strategy are (1) a short path to production (spring 2014 for a ragtop roadster, fall 2014 for a coupe version), (2) the traction bonus inherent to four-wheel drive, and (3) the economies of scale offered by hitching up to a high-volume architecture. On the debit side, it’s hard to ignore the usual weight, space, and cost penalties of adding driveshafts and other associated hardware.
Plan B scraps all that and pushes the launch back to 2015 or even 2016. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this route revolves around rear-wheel drive. The key is the next 1-series. Although the European-market hatchback 1-series will definitely move to front-wheel drive to compete better with the Volkswagen Golf and the like, BMW is now thinking that the coupe and the convertible should stay rear-wheel drive permanently and perhaps become the 2-series. (Indeed, the company just filed a trademark for the M2 name.) The Z2, of course, fits the new nomenclature to perfection and would share the 2-series platform. The Z2 would feature three different 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engines rated from 170 to 270 hp.