The new BMW Z4 is not too far away now, as the Bavarian carmaker has released first official details of the next-generation open top sports car, along with images and a video of a pre-production mule lapping BMW’s Miramas test centre in the south of France.

Munich says that trials at the Autodrome de Miramas are focusing on the fine-tuning of all drive and suspension systems of the new roadster, which will have a Z4 M40i as the performance flagship of the range.

This M Performance model will have a new “extremely powerful” inline-six engine (likely a 3.0L twin-scroll turbo paired to an eight-speed auto), lowered sports suspension with electronically controlled dampers, a newly developed front axle, M light alloy wheels with a staggered tyre set-up, M sports brake system and an electronically controlled lock in the rear axle differential. It will set a new benchmark for driving pleasure in the roadster segment, BMW claims.

“The vehicle concept of the new BMW Z4 is geared consistently towards agility and driving dynamics. The high level of body stiffness and the very rigid suspension attachment provide the perfect basis for a set-up that guarantees the performance qualities of a genuine sports car in terms of steering precision as well as longitudinal and transverse acceleration,” explains Jos van As, head of application suspension.

BMW says that like the famed Nurburgring, the Miramas test centre offers perfect conditions for the new Z4 to demonstrate its driving dynamics potential. Used by BMW to develop and test new models for over 30 years, the French facility comprises a long asphalt oval and a motorway ring road for high-speed tests as well as slalom, serpentine and circular tracks and a number of handling courses and circuits featuring diverse types of surfaces.

These are currently being used for detailed analysis and optimisation of the roadster’s acceleration, steering and brake response. For example, the final form of the adaptive M suspension as it interacts with the rear axle LSD is developed on a circuit that is also used for testing purposes by BMW Motorsport.

The second-generation E89 Z4 wasn’t lauded as the best driving roadster in town, but BMW is promising more this time around in terms of dynamics. Munich says that testing so far has indicated that the third-generation Z4 “will offer a tangible increase in sporty flair.”

The company adds that the latest two-seater convertible – which will go back to using a fabric top after the E89’s metal folding roof – will introduce effective enhancements in terms of agile handling, spontaneity and precision when changing direction and “accelerating in dynamic style” out of bends, without sacrifice in comfort.

“The first generation of Z4 was sporty. The second generation was comfortable. This [new one] can do both. The last version was a car to drive on a Sunday afternoon. This is a car you’ll want to drive on Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon,” product manager Andreas Ederer told Autocar. “The only thing we carried over was the name,” he added.

We have no reason to doubt that, given that the new Z4 shares its new underpinnings with the upcoming reborn Toyota Supra. Let’s also hope that BMW stick with the concept’s evocative looks as much as possible. The new Z4 is due to go on sale early next year and the target is the rather brilliant Porsche 718 Boxster. I, for one, can’t wait.

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