The BMW Z4 Coupe was first shown in concept form at last fall's Frankfurt show, but we now have official photos of the production car going on sale in June of this year. As the name implies, it's a Z4 roadster with a stationary roof. The fixed top makes it stiffer and lighter, so it should be a better driver and a viable track toy, a use hinted at by roof bulges perhaps intended to accommodate helmet-wearing occupants.
We have criticized the Z4 roadster, which debuted in 2003, for its disjointed exterior and interior design. It was the second production BMW to show off the highly abstract "Bangled" design style brought to us by Adrian Von Hooydonk and his boss Chris Bangle. From the nose to the A-pillars, the coupe and the roadster are identical. The coupe loses the roadster's ungainly tiny trunk in favor of an attractive hatchback that, from the rear, evokes recent Ferraris. The cutline management is ingenious. Despite its size, weight, and complexity, the liftgate treatment makes you wonder whether the Z4 started off with a metal top and the roadster was developed later. While the neatly integrated rear window has no wiper, the rear hatch eschews any obvious aerodynamic aids. However, the tail does have some faults: three-quarter rear visibility is poor, the loading lip is too high, the trunk is shallow, and the badge-style latch is bound to get dirty and wet in no time at all. The side profile is fast and sleek, not unlike the Lotus Exige. Never has a hardtop looked so much better than a convertible.
We are not worried about the way the production car will drive, because it should be stiffer than the regular Z4, which already handles sweetly enough. The Z4 3.0 is equipped with the latest iteration of the magical 3.0-liter in-line six that makes 255 hp and 232 lb-ft of torque, and can reportedly accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 5.7 seconds. The M coupe, which will get the 333 hp 3.2-liter engine from the outgoing M3, will be ready to compete with the Porsche Boxster S and Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG. If the regular Z4 coupe is enough to get our mouths watering, then the forthcoming M coupe has us outright salivating.