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BMW Z5 Prototype Spied Testing with Cloth Softtop

New roadster shares its platform with an upcoming Toyota sports car.

The Z4 roadster is the oldest model in BMW's lineup, and these spy photos prove that its replacement is well on its way. Expected to be called the BMW Z5, this next-generation droptop ushers in some big changes for the sports car. The new model will ride on a new rear-drive platform also set to underpin an upcoming Toyota sports car.

Though the prototype's heavy camouflage doesn't give away too much about the Z5's styling, the most notable change we can see is the car's softtop. Compared to the outgoing Z4's complex retractable hardtop, this new convertible roof, combined with a possible use of carbon-fiber and aluminum in the body, should result in a lighter curb weight for the new roadster; the current Z4 weighs between 3,263-3,549 lb depending on engine choice.

Our European correspondent Georg Kacher says that the new Z5 will continue to offer a turbo-four as the standard engine. A higher-output version of this four-cylinder will also be offered as an upgrade, along with a turbocharged inline-six for a possible M version.

The BMW Z5 prototype's shorter hood also corroborates our previous report that the car's new underpinnings would have more of a front-mid-engine bias. A joint collaboration between BMW and Toyota, the new platform has been in development for a few years now. Along with the BMW Z5, the chassis will also be used for a spiritual successor to the Toyota Supra. The latest rumors about that car suggest that it will be a hardtop coupe, use a hybrid drivetrain, and carry styling cues from the wild Toyota FT-1 concept first shown in 2014.

The BMW Z5 is currently slated to arrive in time for the 2018 model year, so look for more details to come over the next few months on this new BMW sports car.