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Is BMW’s next sports car a Z4 successor?

The first spy shots of a prototype BMW sports car have surfaced on the interwebs, hinting we may have a Z4 Roadster successor on our hands.

The spy shots, taken by a number of internet sources including BMWBlog, suggest a Z4 replacement is the most likely candidate. The prototype has the trademark long bonnet, short rear overhang and two-seat layout.

A return to the E85 way of doing things looks to be on the cards, given the fact the prototype Z5 has a fabric roof, which would save considerable weight – potentially at the expense of increased road noise, mind you.

Going for fabric would makes sense considering the current Z4 is heavier, softer and more livable because of a hard-top, which upset some purists who said it stepped away from roadster ethos of being lightweight, fun and small.

It could also indicate a return to the old Z model system, which included a roadster, coupe and a more powerful M variant for both the Z3 and E85 Z4.

Sources say the Z5 was being tested at night at temperatures around minus 25 degrees Celsius, which is somewhat colder than your typical convertible weather, and that it was packing a turbocharged four-cylinder (not a straight-six, sadly).

There’s more to Z5 rumours than just a few pictures of a heavily disguised car. BMW and Toyota said they have been working on a car together, not to mention the fact BMW head of research and development Klaus Frohlich said a Z4 replacement was in the works.

Exactly how the partnership works is unknown, but the fruit it bears could be especially juicy given the Toyota GT86’s sheer driving fun and BMW’s build quality, engineering knowhow and M performance division.

The BMW Z5 (or whatever it gets called) is expected to replace the current Z4 in 2018 so there’s a bit of a wait. At least we have the new Mazda MX-5 roadster to pass the time.

Head here to check out the BMW Z5 spy shots in question.

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