Will BMW Build a Porsche 911 Fighter?
Plus details on the Z4 twinned with the all-new Toyota Supra
BMW continues to tinker with its ever-larger pot of cars. Next year, we get a four-door X2 coupe that will be priced closer to the X3 than to the X1. Then an X7 will show up in late 2018 and take aim at the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class and Range Rover. Because there is such a wide gap between the X7 and the future Rolls-Royce Cullinan, BMW has signed off a super-luxurious edition of the X7 with more equipment and more power due in 2019. Expect wall-to-wall interior upgrades and perhaps a plug-in hybrid powertrain. (BMW may also need to bookend the SUV lineup with something smaller than the X1, but such a vehicle could be fully battery-powered if only to avoid the X-zero moniker.)
BMW has tossed out a hatchback model of the forthcoming 1 Series in favor of a 2 Series Gran Coupé that should show up in 2019. The proposed Z4 coupe is gone, too; partner Toyota will sell only the hardtop version of the German-developed love child, and BMW will stick with the roadster, which thankfully abandons the clumsy folding hardtop the automaker had thought about using. The top-of-the-line Z4 M will have a 450-hp inline-six, whereas the ultimate Supra will be powered by a twin-turbocharged V-6 from Japan.
The proposed 9 Series is still waiting for the thumbs-up. If it gets it, the four-door coupe will fuse a twin-turbo straight-six with two high-performance e-motors for a combined 500 hp when it ideally goes on sale in 2020. At this point BMW sees no more than 8,000 takers for the future flagship. Soon after, the slow-selling 3 Series GT could merge with the next 4 Series Gran Coupé, and project iX, the 3 Series-size EV hatchback made of sheetmetal rather than carbon fiber, would debut.
Most exciting, though, is that BMW has had a major last-minute rethink about the next-gen 6 Series, which is earmarked for 2018/2019. R&D has reportedly axed the cabriolet, and the 6 Series Gran Coupé will almost certainly disappear if the 9 Series is signed off on, leaving us only with a four-passenger coupe. It's currently a good-looking but overweight and somewhat ponderous grand tourer, but the follow-up model is due to lose some 500 pounds, adopt BMW's new CLAR platform, and have optional air suspension, rear-wheel steering, and a brand-new quad-turbo inline-six producing some 550 hp. Heralded internally as a Porsche 911 fighter, this marginally more compact upmarket coupe may well pick up the red thread BMW lost when its discontinued the 3.0 CSL more than 40 years ago.