Just when you thought BMW had lost its mind…
…it goes and does this. New concept said to references Mille Miglia racers and early 02s; we're seeing M Coupe
By Matt Bird / Friday, 19 May 2023 / Loading comments
It wouldn’t be a fancy Italian car concours without a stunning BMW concept; from 8 Series to 3.0 CSL Hommage and 2002 to 328, they really do save the best for the lakeside. 2023 is no different: welcome to the Concept Touring Coupe, a straight-six shooting brake the kind of which we haven’t seen from BMW in absolutely yonks.
Heritage is understandably made a big deal of here, what with BMW’s incredible back catalogue and a rather scary future looming for anyone very fond of it. Apparently, the coupe references the 328 Touring Coupe (the Mille Miglia winner from 1940) with its proportions, with the ‘functionality of the shooting brake concept’ borrowed from the 02s of the early 1970s that first introduced the idea of a BMW Touring. Perhaps it does – but all we’re seeing in a car with styling cues from a Z sports car and straight-six power is a modern-day M Coupe, 25 years after the first. And that’s most certainly a good thing.
There hasn’t been a Z4 coupe for the past two generations, and this Concept Touring is more of a shooting brake than a conventional coupe, yet the influence of the G29 soft top is easy to see. Both front and rear ends borrow heavily from the current Z4, and work very well given the mixed reaction to that car at launch. Of course, the profile is where this BMW is most interesting, owing to perhaps the kinkiest of Hofmeister kinks, wheels that bring to mind the Alpina Dynamic 20-spoke rims (20-inch front, 21-inch rear) and that pronounced hatchback rear end.
Maybe the Concept Touring isn’t as classically handsome as a conventional coupe, but being a shooting brake makes it unassailably cool regardless. ‘Created from the flowing contours of the roof, which merge seamlessly with the rear side panels, the shape accentuates the car’s athletic shoulders, while the flat rear window and clearly defined body surfaces emphasise the vehicle’s solid stance.’ For once it’s easy to understand where the press release fluff is coming from – this looks great.
As befits a car being revealed to a pastel-chino’d audience outside a five-star hotel, the interior is lavish. It’s been trimmed in Poltrona Frau leather to ‘create a luxurious ambience’, and the gorgeous tan colour has been replicated in the bespoke Schedoni leather luggage set that works just perfectly with the Sparking Lario paint. And who doesn’t love matching luggage? BMW reckons the compartment behind the seats provides ample room to stow the bags for spontaneous trips – which you’d probably be doing plenty of with a car and case combo like this. There are luxury penthouses finished to a lower standard than that boot.
BMW hasn’t been so unrefined as to waste its time discussing engine specs for a one-off Villa D’Este car, adding only that the Concept Touring Coupe is ‘powered by the brand’s hallmark six-cylinder inline engine’ – although it’s surely safe to assume that it’s the 3.0-litre, 340hp B58 engine from the Z4 M40i. (However cool the 510hp S58 from the M3 would be.) Still, a big straight six is the ideal engine for those spontaneous trips, and the B58 remains a good’un.
Not that there’s ever likely to be more than one Concept Touring Coupe. Sometimes these BMWs preview an upcoming model and sometimes they’re just lovely one-offs intended to remind us that the firm hasn’t lost its knack – and even if this turns out to be a case of the latter, it’s still well-timed given the recent streak of ne’er-do-wells. Of course, with demand for sports cars wilting, it seems highly unlikely that BMW would go to the effort of spinning off any additional variants of the Z4, especially a niche two-door hardtop. Imagine how much it would have to cost.
But let’s all live in hope anyway; after all, there was a time when we never thought BMW would make an M3 Touring, and here we are. Domagoj Dukec, head of BMW Design, reckons that a “highly emotional vehicle like this shows that the passion for everything that goes into driving pleasure has been essential through the ages and will be for the future.” So maybe the Z cars as we know them, stretching back almost 30 years now to the Z3 (the Z1 was a bit different) will bow out with a modern M Coupe? For now, let’s just enjoy that silhouette, the upholstery and the luggage – and all cling to the idea that BMW can still do traditional cool when it feels like it.
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