Up and coming

The next big things on the automotive horizon

Every summer has its blockbuster. This year, it’s the BMW Z4 M Coupe. Prettier than its predecessor and said to outperform the Cayman, BMW chairman Helmut Panke called the decision to build the two-seater “almost too obvious.” Whether that goes for buying one remains to be seen; orders are now being taken for the first shipments next month.

Variety Weekend rounded up three of the next big things on the automotive horizon.

2006 BMW Z4 M Coupe 2007 Bentley Continental GTC
2008 Audi TT
2006 BMW Z4 M Coupe 2007 Bentley Continental GTC 2008 Audi TT
Makes a 200-mile roundtrip for a carton of milk seem like a good idea.
Bows: July and August
Technicals: 3.2-liter, six-cylinder, 330-bhp engine; 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, top speed 155 mph (electronically limited); six-speed manual transmission; integrated Bluetooth and GPS
Why it’s better: The Z3 didn’t make any friends with its looks.
Write a check for: $49,995
The competition: Porsche Cayman S
If ever there were a car perfect for L.A., it’s this.
Bows: Fall 2006
Technicals: 6-liter, 12-cylinder, 552-bhp engine; 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds, top speed 195 mph; six-speed automatic transmission; DVD satellite navigation
Why it’s better: The multilayer, powered convertible fabric top that tucks out of sight under a leather cover; otherwise, it’s pretty much identical
Write a check for: TBA; expect a premium over the $164,995 price of the GT coupe
The competition: Ferrari F430 Spider, Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG
Sharper handling goes with a sharper look.
Bows: Spring 2007
Technicals: 3.2-liter, 6-cylinder, 250-bhp engine; 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, top speed 155 mph (electronically limited); DSG transmission (manual and automatic) or strictly manual; all-wheel drive; voice-activated phone controls
Why it’s better: 69% aluminum frame weighs almost 200 pounds less; slightly bigger dimensions means the cabin is no longer a source of terror for the claustrophobic driver.
Write a check for: TBA; expect MSRP to start around $40,640
The competition: Porsche Boxster
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