Long bonnet, short overhangs, low centre of gravity, soft top: the sporty two-seater doing its laps at the BMW test centre in Miramas in the south of France is instantly recognisable as a purebred roadster.

The new BMW Z4 is currently undergoing another particularly important stage of the process towards serial production maturity, in this case involving driving dynamics testing of a heavily disguised prototype. This will provide key insights into the performance properties of the new model, whose genuine roadster characteristics, pure driving pleasure and captivating sporty flair will soon go out on public roads.

Trials at the Autodrome de Miramas are focusing on fine-tuning of all drive and suspension systems — the basis for the sporty driving experience offered by the new BMW Z4. The most intense form of new dynamic roadster performance is embodied by the BMW Z4 M40i. A new, extremely powerful in-line 6-cylinder engine, a lowered sports suspension with electronically controlled dampers, a newly developed front axle, M light alloy wheels with mixed tyres, an M sports brake system and an electronically controlled lock in the rear axle differential create an overall package that sees the BMW M Performance model setting a whole new benchmark for driving pleasure in the roadster segment.

Like the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, the Miramas test centre offers perfect conditions for the new BMW Z4 to demonstrate its driving dynamics potential. Used by BMW to develop and test new models for more than 30 years, the centre comprises a long asphalt oval and a motorway ring road