BMW prepares to give its fans an early taste of its next roadster

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The convertible segment is shrinking everywhere, but BMW has dabbled in the space for decades and remains committed to it.

BMW has released a dark sketch that previews an upcoming concept car scheduled to break cover at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Its identity hasn’t been revealed yet, but sources close to the Munich-based company hint it will give us an early look at the next-generation Z4 convertible that’s being developed jointly with Toyota.

The sketch depicts a sleek-looking two-seater with a targa-like roof. When viewed from the side, the concept is characterized by a low front end that suggests the engine is front-midmounted, a long hood, and a raked A-pillar. How much of the design will make the transition from concept to production is a point of debate. Spy shots of the next Z4 testing in Germany suggest it will offer a conventional soft top in lieu of a targa top.

Mechanically, an earlier report finds BMW’s next roadster will launch with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine tuned to pump out about 200 horsepower. A turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six offered in at least two states of tune will join the lineup a little later in the production run. The four will shift through a six-speed manual transmission, while the six will likely receive an eight-speed automatic.

Company executives have previously confirmed plans to add electrification to every single member of the BMW lineup. The Z4 probably won’t be an exception, and we expect it will receive a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain about a year after it makes its debut. The hotly anticipated Toyota Supra — which shares its platform with the Z4 — will go hybrid, too.

BMW will lift the veil off of its next concept on August 17, the opening day of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. And while it’s billed as simply a design study, the company concedes it will spawn a production model in 2018. That means we’ll likely see the third-generation Z4 for the first time next year at the Geneva Auto Show, and it will arrive in showrooms in time for the 2019 model year.

The concept isn’t the only thing we’ll see from BMW in Pebble Beach. The company will show the 8 Series Concept in the United States for the very first time. Introduced at the Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance, it accurately previews an upcoming production model. It is also entering two classic race cars — a 1975 3.0 CSL and a 1972 Alpina 2002ti — in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.