Spied: 2011 BMW Z4 M?
Earlier this year, BMW introduced a high-performance version of the BMW Z4, but it wasn't the Z4 M that many were hoping for. The 2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is was unveiled at the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but we recently spotted a BMW test mule in California that could revive hope for the M version after all. Driving in full camouflage, most of the styling of the BMW in question was obscured although some prominent cues were obvious.
Differing from a regular Z4, the model seen driving along the Pacific Coast Highway had dual exhaust outlets and the front fascia appeared to be more aggressive with larger side intakes, but these cues are also found on the sDrive35is. With 340 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque, the numbers for the Z4 sDrive35is speak for themselves making it even more unclear as to why such extensive body armor was used on this test vehicle. If BMW were to offer a Z4 M, it might keep this same twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six, but add a sportier suspension setup and maybe even offer a manual transmission in addition to the seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox.
Another explanation for this test mule might be a planned design that could be introduced in 2013. Like most BMW vehicles, the first-generation Z4 underwent a slight design update after four years on the market, so this could be the case for the spotted test vehicle with the current Z4 design now in its second year on the market. No major design differences are noticeable on this car, but elements such as headlights, taillights and fascias could all be updated to give the car a fresher look after four years on the market. Unfortunately, no images were captured of the car's interior which is another area sometimes focused on for updates.
Whatever model this sporty roadster was, it was spotted alongside the redesigned 2011 BMW X5 that will be making its debut next week at the 2010 New York International Auto Show.
Select photos by Jeffrey N. Ross