Make a list of the world’s best-handling roadsters, and what would be on it? The Porsche Boxster
, without a doubt, and likely the Honda S2000 (even though it’s no longer in production). We’d expect to see the Nissan 370Z on the list, as well as the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
On the other hand, we wouldn’t expect to see the BMW Z4
, or its predecessor, the BMW Z3. While both of BMW's roadsters provide plenty of open-air entertainment on a winding road, neither is the equal of the Boxster or the S2000 in the handling department.
To correct that, Inside Line
cites “well placed company insiders” as saying the next BMW Z4
will be more “dynamic” than previous BMW roadsters, with a more agile feel to it. The challenge becomes changing the car enough to improve it, without alienating buyers who’ve come to appreciate the long hood and compliant suspension.
In other words, BMW will make changes, but they won’t be wholesale ones. Expect improved handling and steering feel, but not at the expense of ride comfort. Expect a shortened hood (to improve visibility), but not a significant change to the car’s lines or proportions. As with physicians, BMW’s prime directive for its designers is “first do no harm.”
To that end, BMW’s design policy requires new cars to look “fresh,” stylistically speaking, for 15 years. You aren’t likely to see BMW jump on any cutting-edge styling trends (like downsizing headlights or shrinking the greenhouse) just to sell a few more units in the first year after launch.
We’re not sure what metric BMW uses to measure styling longevity, but most of its designs still look pretty good to us, regardless of age. We’d be happy to park a 56-year-old BMW 507
in our garage, since we’d be hard-pressed to name a better looking roadster from any era.