By on June 16, 2015

2013 BMW Z3

Despite models like the i8 and Z4, BMW is more interested in SUVs and crossovers than sports cars these days. Case in point: The Z2 has been cancelled.

The Z2 would have gone toe-to-toe with the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Fiat’s Spyder beginning in 2016, Car reports, but was deemed “inessential” in the face of both booming SUV sales and a sluggish sports car market by chairman Harald Krüger and R&D boss Klaus Fröhlich, a move in line with sales boss Ian Robertson’s belief the sports car market may never recover.

The roadster would have slotted under the Z4, come with a £20,000 ($31,000 USD) starting price tag, and been limited to three- and four-cylinder engine options delivering their power to the front wheels.

The aforementioned FWD setup would have been the result of the Z2 sharing a platform with the MINI, BMW 1 Series, and the front-driven models in the BMW 2 Series, a setup also shared by the still-alive MINI Superleggera roadster.

[Photo credit: BMW]

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51 Comments on “BMW Z2 MX-5 Fighter Dubbed ‘Inessential,’ Cancelled...”


  • avatar
    danio3834

    The Ultimate Family Machine.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Unwesentlich.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Deathwatch?

  • avatar
    thalter

    I was about to get upset until I saw that it was going to be FWD only. Now my reaction is meh.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I missed that in my skim, I agree.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      My thoughts as well. However it is amazing that nobody even tries to compete with the Miata. Same with the Wrangler.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        A couple have tried, all have failed. Solstice/Sky (bankrupt), Suzuki Samurai (60 Minutes hit piece).

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          The Solstice/SKY “failure” was resultant of GM running themselves in the ground.

          The interment meme – slow, heavy, pondering, under powered.

          Reality – the Solstice/SKY broke the Solo Nationals stranglehold the Miata/MX-5 had and took the class, and remained competitive even after the bankruptcy.

          If you go back to the bankruptcy of GM, there were numerous people asking to keep Kappa alive as a Chevrolet (as well as Zeta).

          Ironically, no one wants the Zeta Chevy (in part probably because of the price premium, it only being offered murdered out, and the utterly boring what is that a Malibu wrapper).

          Kappa’s biggest sins was the Playskool interior and the Rube-Goldberg roof. Miata sales are a pittance of what they once were — people aren’t in the class because people simply are not interested in buying two seat roadsters anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            While I always liked the look of the solstice/sky, they had significant issues that put them below the Miata and S2k in my book, and it also showed in sales.

            Issue 1: Storage – similar in-cabin storage to the S2000, which is barely any, and smaller trunk than a miata, which is barely any. The S2000 has a massive trunk for a roadster, and the Miata manages to have a normal glove box, between the seat glove box, and 2 functional cupholders

            Issue 2: The roof – S2000 roof is foolproof and automatic. The miata roof is 1 clasp and a flick of the wrist to open and close. Solstice/Sky roof was a giant PITA.

            Issue 3: Fit and Finish – they both came at a bad time in GM history, and it showed in interior material quality and how well put together it was.

            Combine those with a reputation for poor reliability even given it’s parts bin nature and you have a recipe for failrue, no matter how quick or good to drive they were. They just couldn’t match up to the competition in their everyday usability, and that was all she wrote.

          • 0 avatar
            jpolicke

            Compared to the storage in the Kappa, a Miata is a truck. I do believe I can carry more in my Concours’ bags than I could put in a Solstice trunk.

          • 0 avatar

            Never understood the ‘reliability’ complaints for the Kappa twins. Pretty much every single one has a broken tunnel-mounted cupholder, separating sail panels, and a busted passenger occupant airbag sensor, but they seem to be mechanically stout.

          • 0 avatar
            Mark_Miata

            I used to think that the Solstice/Sky twins were unsuccessful, but they outsold the Miata significantly during the full years they were both new on the market:

            C.Y……..Miata………….Solstice…….Sky
            2005……9801*………..5445………….0
            2006…..16897*……….19710……….8671
            2007…..15075………..16779………11263
            2008…..10977………..10739……….9162

            *No distinction is made between sales of the NB and NC models

            While it is true that the GM twins were and are less practical daily drivers than the Miata, comparison tests and SCCA results showed them to be at least equal in driving performance, with the GXP/Redline versions clearly superior.

            I’d also argue that the GM cars were much better looking than the Miata – nobody cares when I drive by in my NB, but my two friends who drive Solstices constantly get attention when out and about.

            As to reliability, my friends have had no complaints, though neither car is used as a daily driver and both have low miles compared to my Miata.

            While I like my Miata as a daily driver, if I wanted a fun weekend car I’d get a Sky Redline.

          • 0 avatar
            epsilonkore

            I can comment to reliability of my 2008 Sky. It never left me stranded, the drivetrain (though clunky feeling) was solid. The interior? I kid you not, I had something break every 1000 miles of ownership till I gave it up around 28,000 miles. I never made it to the end of warranty. Another cup holder, arm rest, door panel, MONSOON RADIO MALFUNCTION, seat spring or roof air/water leak and I would have burned it at the stake. It forever scarred me towards convertibles. Two complete top replacements, and multiple visits for adjustments ruined the idea of a soft top for me. Its a pity, I still miss it… stockholm syndrome at its finest.

        • 0 avatar

          Solstice/Sky weighed about 400 lbs more than the Miata.

      • 0 avatar
        EBimmer

        Honda S2000 competed with Miata, but they threw in the towel. I’ll never understand why Ford or GM didn’t go after the Wrangler.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Yup. Sounds like BMW was trying to resurrect the Capri, as if someone was asking for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I went through the same emotions, however I finally settled on sadness. I will never be happy a car maker decides not to build something that isn’t a crossover.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Exactly what I planned to say. Fwd? No big loss.

    • 0 avatar
      formula m

      No dash glove box in the new Miata

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Starting at $31K for a FWD 4-cyl coupe?

      Just buy a Prelude and you’ll have a cooler car.

  • avatar
    blackEldo

    Just a quick editing suggestion: The Z2 would have slotted below the Z4 not Z3, since Z3 no longer exists new. Doesn’t matter really as this is bad news and no one should read it, and should instead pretend the world will be filled with small roadsters.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Hmm, a relatively expensive three cylinder front drive roadster? I’m not surprised it was canceled, I’m surprised it was ever considered.

    If I recall the closest thing to this I can think of was the early 90’s Mercury Capri, and it was hardly a sales success.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

  • avatar
    FBS

    A 3-cylinder FWD roadster with a luxury badge?

    Sounds like a hairdresser’s car to me.

  • avatar
    darex

    The reality is that whatever role this Z2 was meant to play, will already be filled by the F-series MINI Cabrio. Mechanically, there would be zero difference between the two. They only differences would be styling and the badge. I don’t take the back seats in the MINI Cooper seriously.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Let see a 3 CYL FWD Z2 for a starting price of 31K , yeah that would have cut into the MX5 market.

  • avatar
    pbr

    FWD MX-5 competitor? Pfft. I think not. BMW are correct to ditch that half-baked idea. A better idea would be for BMW to apply their corporate snout and N20 to an MX-5, a la FIAT Spyder, but they would never stoop to that.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    No great loss…

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Title is (intentionally) misleading. BMW isn’t disinterested, clearly they explored the option seriously enough that we are here talking about it. BMW’s CUSTOMERS are not interested in a Z2. Hell, the Z4 is knocking on heaven’s door. Regular cars have entered the realm of street performance once limited to sports cars. The typical 328i buyer has more performance and dynamics available than they know what to do with… there is no added value in something like a Z4.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      It’s true that customers don’t want to buy 2 seat sports cars, but I don’t think that the reason is because their sedans are potent (even though they are).

      People aren’t buying 2 seat sports cars because they don’t have the discretionary income for an impractical car. A big part of the fun of a sports car isn’t the performance, it’s the feel. We’re talking about the feeling of lightness, the driver’s positioning in the chassis so that the car rotates around him, the immediacy of response to control inputs, the wind in your hair, etc. Even when you push a 3er to its considerable limits, you’re not going to get that feel.

      If sports cars were all about speed, no one would have bought Miatas the last 25 years, nor MGs and Triumphs in the decades before that.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Nobody wants a $30k FWD MX-5 when a RWD MX-5 from Mazda costs $24k.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    While a company with BMW’s balance sheet can afford a niche vehicle as long as it breaks even, there’s no way they could accept the possibility of being humiliated in the marketplace. I suspect they ran this up the flagpole and found out that the Z2 would be trounced by the Miata.

  • avatar
    wmba

    BMW read the previews of the new MX-5 Miata, realized they hadn’t a hope of competing with it, FWD or RWD, at anything less than a 50% premium and a lot of carbon fiber.

    So they blandly announce the forthcoming Z2 is inessential, nonessential, or unessential, take your pick and pretend that they weren’t going going to make it anyway. The Niche King in retreat back instead to elephant lump X5M convertibles which can be sold for a hundred grand.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    count me among those who went from disappointed to meh when reading it would be FWD. The 3 cylinder engine could’ve been entertaining, but even with RWD, likely no reason to buy the I4 with a similarly powered Miata delivering value and the upcoming Fiat 124 spider competing for the Europhile market. Didn’t BMW already try this market once just branded as a Mini – the Speedster and Coupe? Were they hoping the roundel could carry the car where Mini couldn’t?

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    “The aforementioned FWD setup would have been the result of the Z2 sharing a platform with the MINI, BMW 1 Series, and the front-driven models in the BMW 2 Series, a setup also shared by the still-alive MINI Superleggera roadster.”

    So moral of the story is that if you really wanted the Z2, just go to your local MINI dealer and inquire about the MINI Cooper JCW Hardtop. Or cross your fingers for the new MINI roadster.

  • avatar
    jconli1

    I just imagined reading this article 10 years ago and thinking it was from some sort of automotive “The Onion”.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “…been limited to three- and four-cylinder engine options delivering their power to the front wheels.”

    Epic fail.

  • avatar
    PeteRR

    Fröhlich! Weihnachten?

  • avatar
    alexndr333

    The fact that BMW would only consider this as a front-driver, and then abandon it altogether indicates to me that, just as Honda is an engine company that happens to build cars, BMW is a roundel company that happens to build cars. Both companies build good cars, but that’s not their fundamental raison d’etre.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Since the price was listed in British Pounds and then merely converted to USD using the current exchange rate, I think we can assume the car would be less than the $31k mentioned. The price in England includes all taxes and cars typically cost more there as a rule of thumb. Maybe the car would be actually price competitive with the Miata.

    Anyway, even if it were price competitive with the Miata, would it be nearly as good a car? Would badge snobs buy it anyway even though it’s small, noisy, etc? Wouldn’t a base 1-series or 2-series be a better choice for people just wanting the badge?

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