2015 BMW Z2 – BMW is readying a back-to-basics roadster to slot beneath its 2-seat 015 BMW Z2. With rear drive and a soft top, the 015 BMW Z2 will answer a redesigned Mazda MX-5 Miata and new mid-engine sports cars from Volkswagen Group. It should be a great drive, but maybe not a great dollar value.
The 2015 BMW Z2 will be sized and priced to slot below the brand’s Z4 roadster, which debuted in the U.S. for 2004 and was reengineered for ’09 as a hideaway-hardtop convertible. As such, the Z2 echoes BMW’s original Miata-fighter, the 1996-2002 Z3, though that car quickly added power and features to move well beyond its intended market. The Z4 went even further upscale, and will again on its next redesign to make marketing room for its smaller brother. Still, the Z2 may end up pricey for an “entry level” sports car simply because it’s a BMW, and because this automaker doesn’t shy from ladling costly high-tech on even its most humble products. One British source projects a near-$41,000 base price at current exchange rates. That’s a far cry from 2011 Miata minimums of $23,000-$31,000. Then again, with the way things are going, $40,000 sports cars might soon seem like bargains.
In any case, the 2015 BMW Z2 will employ a good deal of premium engineering and materials despite its “back-to-basics” intent. Much of this is driven by new global regulations for fuel economy and CO2 emissions that virtually mandate minimizing weight as much as possible in every type of vehicle. As a result, says Auto Bild, the Z2 will boast a unibody made of costlier high-strength-steel, plus an aluminum hood and composite-plastic trunk lid and front fenders. Far more remarkable, the engine block and driveshaft are said to be made of magnesium rather than aluminum or steel. All this flows from an ambitious base curb-weight target of just 2,200 pounds, a hefty 1,000 pounds less than today’s Z4 and 700 pounds trimmer than the final Z3 roadster. Weight-watching also explains the convertible’s folding soft top, which may be manual, though power operation is sure to be available. So, too, power windows and seats and perhaps a lightweight lift-off hardtop a la Z3.
We’ve seen conflicting intel on 2015 BMW Z2 powertrains–understandable, as BMW has lately been cooking up enough new engines to confuse outsiders. Our guess is that the Z2 will be offered initially with a pair of turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engines. One will likely be the same 240-horsepower unit available in the new 2012 Z4 sDrive28i model. The other would be tuned for around 265 horsepower. Such outputs should provide brisk acceleration and at least decent fuel economy, especially if engineers come close to achieving their weight target. For reasons of cost and simplicity, both engines should couple to a 6-speed manual transmission and a torque-converter automatic. The latter will almost certainly be the 8-speed unit listed for the above-mentioned Z4. Predictably, there’s already talk of a high-performance variant developed by BMW’s M Division in-house “tuner” operation. This “Z2 M” would likely mate the company’s new 300-horsepower “N55” 3.0-liter inline-6 with single twin-scroll turbocharger to the 7-speed DCT dual-clutch automated manual transmission now fitted to the iconic M3 sports coupe. That transmission behaves much like a traditional torque-converter automatic. The result should be one rapid small sports car–assuming it happens, as we think it eventually will.
2015 BMW Z2 Features
Auto Bild’s reporting confirms that the 2015 BMW Z2 will offer one or more of the brand’s fuel-saving “Efficiency Dynamics” features. These would include a “smart” alternator drive that decouples from the engine except when coasting or braking; engine idle-stop and brake-energy-recuperation systems, as on many gas/electric hybrids; even an upshift indicator light to temper fuel-wasting leadfoot driving. The Z2 is also apparently due to get a couple of “active aerodynamics” items, including automatic open/close front air intakes to reduce highway-speed air drag.
The 2015 BMW Z2 will likely offer many Z4 features, though again probably not all, for reasons of cost and weight. Options will likely include the aforementioned power seats, windows, and top, plus xenon headlamps; keyless entry/engine start; regular and M Sport packages with uprated suspension, larger wheels, and specific styling touches; navigation system; heated seats; and wood or aluminum cockpit trim.
In all, the 2015 BMW Z2 strikes us as a promising new small sports car that could give the ever-popular Miata a run for its money, even if it’s more money to begin with. It will certainly be an interesting “traditional” alternative to Volkswagen Group’s upcoming mid-engine trio and the rumored riposte from Mercedes-Benz. We’re not sure why so many more-affordable sports cars are suddenly on the horizon, but we’re certainly not complaining.
As far as we know, the 2015 BMW Z2 won’t have any game-changer innovations, although the magnesium engine block and driveshaft reported by Auto Bild would be remarkable for a lower-end sports car and a number of high-dollar rides too. Still, BMW is as techno-obsessed as rivals Audi, Mercedes, and Porsche, so the Z2 may sport one or two minor novelties in the powertrain, suspension, and/or comfort/convenience realms. As with all Future Cars, we’ll be learning more about this one as its introduction draws nearer, so keep checking back with us for further details.
Our model-year 2015 U.S. launch timing is based on the assumption that the Z2 would be introduced after the related 4-seat 2-Series coupe and convertible, which are reportedly slated to start sale in Europe during calendar 2013 and reach the U.S. as ’14 models. On the other hand, BMW might well choose to launch the Z2 first, in which case it would probably come to America in the second quarter of 2013 as an early ’14 entry. At least we have a 50 percent chance of being right.
2015 BMW Z2 Prices
It’s likely no more than corporate pride, but BMW is determined not to let the Miata or its homeland rivals dominate the low-end sports-car market. That’s why Z2 is going ahead, even though company chairman Norbert Reithofer is said to be lukewarm about it. In any case, the $41,000 base price mentioned by one British source might seem high now, but could be close to reality by the time sales kick off, mainly because the Z2 will be sourced in high-cost Europe and the dollar shows no signs of strengthening against the Euro. The estimate is also not out of line with 2011-model Z4 pricing, which ranges from $46,000 to $61,000. So until we hear a more-credible figure, we’ll go with $41,000, excluding the inevitable ups and extras.