While the flak is still flying over the styling of the real thing launched last month (designer Chris Bangle’s controversial approach is profiled in Thursday’s New York Times), BMW is introducing two children’s versions of the Z4 roadster.

Available at all 340 US dealers, and presumably many more worldwide, the single-seat Z4 Children's Vehicle is available in pedal or electric versions, the latter powered by 6V batteries. It is designed for children from about three to five years of age (up to 66 pounds) and features an adjustable seat to accommodate growing bodies.

First on the market is the Z4 pedal car, due at dealers this month. It weighs 16.5 pounds, has adjustable pedals and costs $189.

The battery-powered model due early in 2003 has about one and a half hours’ range, forward and reverse gears, weighs about 25 pounds and can reach a claimed top speed of about two and a half miles per hour. A mains charger is standard but there is no mention of power hood, electric hood or garden-optimised satellite navigation.

The chassis is made of painted steel tubing with a non-toxic plastic body and both versions are sold largely pre-assembled.