To rival the Audi R8, BMW is planning to build a two-seater roadster that will carry the Z9 badge, according to a report from Auto Express. This roadster will replace the Z8 which stopped production in 2003. The Z9 will be BMW's flagship supercar, a glamorous model that will compete with the likes of the R8 and Mercedes SLS.
This model actually was first seen at 2005 Los Angeles Motor Show as the California Spyder concept, a sleek, low-slung drop-top with carbonfiber bodywork and a 700bhp BMW F1 engine, which revved to 17,000rpm. The Z9 got the approval from BMW's top management to go into production; however, it will be offered with conventional powerplants.
Plans for the California Spyder were suspended in 2007 due to the economic downturn, which also led to BMW withdrawing its participation from Formula One. The plans have been revived with the improvement in the economy.
From these illustrations that were taken from the sketches of the California Spyder and the Vision EfficientDynamics concept from the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, we can see the proportions are of a classic roadster.
Similar to the design of the smaller Z4, the driver is pushed back to near the rear wheels. With its long bonnet and tiny front and rear overhangs, the car gets an authentic sporting character.
There is a double-bubble deck at the back that gives a retro feel, reminiscent of the Porsche's Boxster Spyder. This car features the "layered surfacing" design themes presented by new styling boss, Adrian Van Hooydonk. The active front splitter and rear diffuser will change shape at speed to optimize air flow around the car to improve fuel efficiency.
The key to the rebirth of the roadster project is BMW's upcoming electric urban car. To reduce weight, the car will be made from carbonfiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), developed by SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers. Carbonfiber will be used all over the Z9, making it lighter and stronger.
The flagship roadster will use BMW's large car platform from the 5, 6 and 7-Series. To save more weight, both aluminum and magnesium will be used in the subframes and suspension. Meanwhile, the passenger cell, which sits on top of the chassis, will be made from CFRP. Portions of the bodywork, including the folding hardtop, will also be made from the material.