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2018 BMW Z5 convertible | spy pics

BMW’s upcoming roadster, rumoured to be called the Z5, has been caught cold weather testing in the Arctic Circle ahead of its expected 2018 global debut.

Close examination of the prototype in the images leads us to believe that a future Z5 could possibly have a wheelbase close to the 2496mm of the current Z4. Those front and rear overhangs of the test mule appear to be longer than those on the Z4, so the new roadster could be longer end-to-end.

We can also see from these images that that doorline is more horizontal than the current Z4 and we're given a glimpse of what the rear end of the production car could look like, with the test car here sporting dual exhaust tips, a boot lid lip spoiler and with an integrated third brake light.

The new sports car is the result of a joint venture with Toyota which has seen the Japanese and German brands pool their engineering resources. Toyota’s version is believed to be the new Supra – a nameplate which has been absent from Australian Toyota showrooms for 25 years - though hundreds of later models have been grey imported since.

The future Supra is expected to follow many of the styling cues of Toyota FT-1 concept unveiled in 2014 and will be a fixed-roof coupe, the Z5 in these images looks to revert from the Z4's folding hardtop to a lighter soft convertible roof.

In 2012 BMW and Toyota a formed a strategic collaboration to develop the joint sports car and since then progress has been shrouded in secrecy.

According to recent reports from UK outlet Autocar, the joint sports car's platform is an evolution of the longitudinal engine, rear-wheel drive 3 Series, and includes shared components from the M3 and M4. Also like the current 3 Series, the Z5 platform has been designed to accommodate two- and all-wheel drive systems.

BMW will be hoping the new Z5 will take the fight to established rivals.

Toyota, meanwhile, has brought its knowledge of hybrid systems to the party and both companies worked together to come up with lightweight materials which could see four-cylinder engine versions of the Z5 weigh less than 1500kg - a weight helped by that fabric roof, too.

Autocar reports that BMW is expected to use the new 2.0-litre 185kW/350Nm four-cylinder turbo petrol found in its 2 Series for entry variants and a similar engine to the 250kW/500Nm 3.0-litre straight six turbo-petrol that powers the M240i for it’s top-of-the-range Z5 with eight-speed ZF automatic transmission sending drive to the rear wheels. An all-wheel drive hybrid variant is also expected, and a Z5 M is likely to appear at some point after the regular car’s launch.

The report predicts that Toyota’s new Supra won’t be fitted with BMW drivetrains, instead it’s expected to use a Lexus-derived 3.5-litre V6, with hybrid variants likely to use the same engine combined with an electric motor.

The current Z4 has had limited success for BMW, with poor sales in the United States, Europe and in Australia. BMW will be hoping the new Z5 will take the fight to established rivals such as the Porsche Boxster.

BMW Australia declined to comment on the upcoming model when contacted by CarsGuide.

Is a BMW sportscar that's been co-developed with Toyota really a BMW? Let us know what think in the comments below.