Ferrari Portofino VS BMW 4 series
- Comfort and composure
- Epic engine
- Gorgeous design
- Hefty cost
- Doesn't sound terrific all the time
- Cramped rear seats
BMW 4 series
- Lowered fuel economy.
- Plenty of equipment included as standard.
- Good amount of luggage space for a coupe.
- Rear seating reduced to a formality.
- Steering feels dull, no matter the setting.
- Firm sport shocks and large wheels make for discomfort on country roads.
Forget California! Ferrari is an Italian brand, so when the time came for the marque to redo its entry-level model - as well as rename it - the geographical tack was at last rightfully placed in its home country.
Enter the all-new Ferrari Portofino 2019 model.
If you’ve travelled the Italian coast, you might know Portofino. It’s located on the picturesque Italian Riviera at the edge of the Ligurian Sea, between Cinque Terre and Genoa, and it’s known for attracting wealth and celebrity to its exclusive shoreline.
It’s gorgeous, classic, timeless; all terms also suitable for this new convertible model, which looks so much better than the California did. And, quite truthfully, it looks more Italian, which is important for this macchina, a true auto sportivo italiana.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
BMW 4 series
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the BMW 4 Series with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.
Based on the same mechanicals as the 3 Series, the three-year-old 4 Series was ostensibly formed to give BMW's nomenclature some sense of logic by designating its two-door machines as 'evens' (2 Series, 4 Series and 6 Series) and its four-door cars as 'odds'.
Three variants currently make up the 4 Series range, including a two-door Coupe, a two-door Convertible and – oddly, given the naming regime – a four-door Gran Coupe that also sports a hatch-like tailgate.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
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The overall score doesn’t necessarily reflect how good this car is, but that’s because we have to factor in safety kit and equipment. Those things matter, sure. But if you really want a Ferrari Portofino, you’ll probably read the drive impressions and look at the photos, both of which should be enough to push you over the line if you’re not quite there yet.
The Ferrari Portofino 2019 model is not just bellissimo to look at, it’s also a more Italian offering. And that’s buonissimo.
Do you think the Portofino the best Ferrari-offering? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
BMW 4 series7/10
The 4 Series line offers three distinct points of difference from the more traditional 3 Series, each with their own attraction. The sharpening of the sticker prices and the additional spec helps their cause as well, with the 430i Coupe probably our pick of the range. The 440i is the firecracker of the group, while the 420d is also worth a look, thanks to its value and prodigious torque output.
What's your take on BMW's division of its 3 and 4 Series range? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
It’s a more angry-looking entry-level car for the iconic Italian brand, but not in an ugly way.
Sure, some angry faces aren’t pretty. But I bet if Elle Macpherson or George Clooney got cranky at you, you’d still probably find them attractive. And so it is with the Portofino, which has a mildly menacing front end, some scintillating curves over its taut metalwork, and a pair of high-set hips with bold tail lights.
It is undeniably more muscular than the old California was. And filling the wheel arches are 20-inch wheels, which measure eight inches wide at the front (with 245/35 rubber) and ten inches wide (285/35) at the back.
This isn’t a compact car, either - with dimensions of 4586mm long, 1938mm wide and 1318mm tall, the Portofino is longer than some mid-sized SUVs. But boy, does it pull its size off well.
And like many of the beachside manors in the seaside town for which the new model is named, you can shutter yourself in to combat bad weather. The folding electronic roof system takes 14 seconds to raise or lower, and can be operated at speeds up to 40km/h.
I actually think it looks better with the roof on. It’s not often you can say that about a convertible…
You aren’t buying a Ferrari if you want the most practical car for the money, but that doesn’t mean there isn't some semblance of pragmatism to the Portofino.
There are four seats. I know, it’s amazing to think there’s a point in making the Portofino a 2+2 seater, but according to Ferrari, owners of the outgoing California model used those back seats about 30 per cent of the time.
I wouldn’t want to be in the back row that much. It’s designed to play host to little kids or small adults, but anyone nearing my height (182cm) will be very uncomfortable. Even tiny adult males (like fellow auto scribe Stephen Corby, for example) reckon it’s tight and not a pleasant place to be back there. (link to existing review). But if you have kids, there are two ISOFIX child seat anchor points.
The boot space is not huge, but with 292 litres of cargo capacity with the roof up, there’s enough room for a weekend’s worth of luggage for a couple (Ferrari says you can fit three cabin bags in that configuration, or two with the roof down). And - a tidbit for the actual customers out there- it has more luggage capacity than you get in a new Corolla hatch (217L).
As for cabin comfort, the front seats are sumptuous, and there are some nice elements like the 10.25-inch infotainment screen, which is pretty easy to use, if a little slow to load when you’re skipping between screens or trying to key locations into the sat-nav system.
There are also two 5.0-inch digital screens in front of the driver, mounted either side of the rev counter, and the front passenger can have their very own display with speed, revs and gear on show. It’s a neat option.
While it may have some long-distance touring pretence, the Portofino isn’t a beacon of loose-item storage. It has a pair of cupholders, and there’s a small storage tray that will fit a smartphone.
BMW 4 series7/10
Two-doors are never the most practical devices, but the 4 Series Coupe and Convertible duo make a decent fist of it for front-seat passengers. There are bottle holders in both doors and a pair of cupholders in the centre console, along with a large lockable glovebox.
The centre bin is, however, quite shallow, and houses the car's single USB port inside it. There is covered storage under the dash for smaller items, and a small rubber-lined tray that the current crop of phones has outgrown.
The rear seating in the Coupe is reduced to almost a formality, especially if the front seat passengers are tall and the front seats are set back, while the sloping roofline reduces head space quite considerably. A centre armrest contains a pair of cupholders, and there are small side pockets.
Rainy conditions precluded us from trying the Convertible's metal folding roof, but the rear seat space restrictions also apply here. Its 370 litres of boot space is roomy enough for a drop-top, while a clever lifting function raises the folding roof structure up by about 300mm to allow luggage to be stowed under the panels when the roof is down. Capacity drops, though, to just 230 litres.
The Gran Coupe, on the other hand, is the most practical car in the entire 3 and 4 Series line-up outside of the 3 Series Touring wagon. With a large, flat load area, and a hatch-like tailgate, the Gran Coupe can swallow 480 litres of gear with the seats up and an impressive 1300 litres with the seats lowered.
Face-level rear vents, more head and backseat legroom – not to mention the fact you don't have to squeeze into the rear past the front seat – makes the Gran Coupe a most useful device, and it's little wonder it's the most popular variant of the three.
Price and features
It would be silly to think that people who can afford a Ferrari aren’t conscious of finance. Most people who can buy a car like this are very specific about what they will and won’t spend their hard-earned cash on, but according to Ferrari, about 70 per cent of projected Portofino purchasers will be buying their very first Prancing Horse. Lucky them!
And at $399,888 (list price, before on-road costs), the Portofino is as close to an affordable new Ferrari as you’ll get.
Standard equipment includes that 10.25-inch media screen that runs Apple CarPlay (an option, of course) and includes sat nav, DAB digital radio, and acts as a display for the reversing camera with parking guidance lines, plus there are front and rear parking sensors as standard.
The standard wheel package is a 20-inch set, and of course you get leather trim, 18-way electronically adjustable front seats, plus heated front seats and dual-zone climate control, and there’s proximity unlocking, too (keyless entry) with a push-button starter on the steering wheel. Auto LED headlights and auto wipers are standard, as is cruise control and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Speaking of Ferrari’s fantastic Formula One-inspired wheel (with paddle shifters), the version with the carbon fibre trim and integrated shift LEDs fitted to our car cost an extra $8300. Oh, and if you do want CarPlay, that'll be $6793 (which is more than the best Apple computer you can buy), and that reversing camera will add $6950 to the price. WHATTTT???
Some of the other options fitted to our car included the Magneride adaptive dampers ($8970), the LCD passenger display ($9501), adaptive front lighting ($5500), a premium hi-fi sound system ($10,100), and a foldable rear-seat backrest ($2701), among plenty of other interior elements.
The as-tested price for our just-under-four-hundred-grand Ferrari, then, was actually $481,394. But who's counting?
The Portofino is available in 28 different colours (including seven blue hues, six grey options, five red and three yellow paint choices).
BMW 4 series7/10
Entry into the 4 Series world now stands at $68,900 plus on-roads for the petrol 420i Coupe and Gran Coupe, and tops out at almost $118,000 for the 440i Convertible.
Both the 420i and 420d have been boosted by the addition of adaptive M dampers, a heads-up display, powered folding rear-view mirrors, lane-change warning, driving assistant and BMW's surround view camera with top and side views.
BMW claims the extra kit is worth just over $8000. Leather seats, sat nav, BMW's ConnectedDrive Emergency call system, bi-Xenon headlights and reversing camera are also featured. An eight-speed automatic transmission is offered as stock, but a six-speed manual can be optioned at no cost.
The diesel version costs an additional $2200 over the petrol powerplant.
Stepping into the 430i, the M Sport Package is offered as standard, with the Luxury line, which includes a leather-trimmed dash, a no-cost option.
Additional standard equipment over the outgoing 428i includes 19-inch M rims, heads-up display, lane change warning, driving assistant and surround view camera. The 430i also gains electric lumbar support for driver and front passenger seats and a nine-speaker stereo system over the base 420i.
Finally, the range-topping 440i scores a heads-up display, lane change warning, driving assistant, surround view camera, adaptive LED headlights, leather dash, front seat heating, high beam assist, active cruise control with stop and go function and parking assistant over the outgoing 435i.
Over the 430i, the 440i also gets variable sport steering, a Harman/Kardon surround sound system with 16 speakers, a leather instrument panel (with M Sport Package), ConnectedDrive internet and concierge service, and air collar neck-warming ducts for the 440i Convertible.
Engine & trans
The 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8 engine produces 441kW of power at 7500rpm and 760Nm of torque from 3000rpm. That means it has a sizeable 29kW more power (and 5Nm more torque) than the Ferrari California T it replaces.
Plus the 0-100 acceleration time is better, too; it will now hit highway speed in 3.5 seconds (was 3.6sec in the Cali T) and moves past the 200km/h marker in just 10.8sec, if you believe Ferrari’s claim.
Top speed is “more than 320km/h”. Didn’t get a chance to test that, sadly, nor the 0-200km/h time.
The kerb weight for the Portofino is 1664 kilograms, while the dry weight is 1545kg. The weight distribution is 46 per cent front, 54 per cent rear.
BMW 4 series7/10
There are two new petrol engines, two new badges and prices cuts of up to $10,000 right across the board for the line-up, along with additional standard equipment that improves the value equation even further.
The line kicks off with the 420, which can be had in either diesel or petrol guise. The 420i gains BMW's new B48 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, which gains 5kW over the old motor to produce 135kW and 270Nm.
It also benefits from slightly improved fuel economy, with a drop of 0.3 litres per 100km for the Coupe and 0.5 for the Gran Coupe to 5.8L/100km, and a fall of 0.2L for the Convertible to 6.2L/100km.
The 420d retains its 140kW, 400Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine, which returns 4.3L/100km in the fixed roof cars and 4.7L/100km for the Convertible.
The 430i – formerly known as the 428i – also receives the new 2.0-litre petrol engine, albeit in a 185kW/350Nm tune. Its fuel economy drops a healthy 0.6L for the Coupe and Gran Coupe and 0.4L for the Convertible, posting figures of 5.8 and 6.3L/100km respectively.
The top-spec 435i has been transformed into the 440i with the addition of BMW's new Twinpower 3.0-litre straight six petrol motor. Its output jumps 15kW to 240kW and by 50Nm to 450Nm, and its consumption falls by more than half a litre to 6.8 litres per 100km for the closed-roof pair and 7.2L/100km for the Convertible.
All cars come standard with a 'traditional' ZF eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission with steering wheel paddles as standard fitment, while a six-speed manual gearbox is a no-cost option across the line.
The twin-turbo-V8-powered Ferrari Portofino uses a claimed 10.7 litres per 100 kilometres. Not that fuel costs are a big concern if you’re spending $400k on a car.
But that’s more than, say, a Mercedes-AMG GT, (9.4L/100km; 350kW/630Nm) but not as much as a Mercedes-AMG GT R (11.4L/100km; 430kW/700Nm). And the Ferrari has more power than both of those, and it's quicker, too (and more expensive…).
Fuel-tank size for the Ferrari Portofino is 80 litres, enough for a theoretical mileage range of 745km.
BMW 4 series8/10
Our brief test loop on a rainy, blustery Melbourne winter's day in all three model types (but no diesel) netted varying fuel consumption readings across the line; we recorded 8.4L/100km in a 420i sedan against a claimed figure of 5.8, 9.8L/100km for the 430i Gran Coupe against a claimed figure of 5.8L/100km, and 8.4L/100km against the 440i Gran Coupe's 6.8L/100km.
Compared to the California T it replaces, the new model is stiffer, has a lighter all-aluminium chassis, gets a reworked transmission and also includes an electronically controlled limited-slip differential.
It’s faster, has more tech - like electronic exhaust bypass valves to make it sound better - and it's gorgeous.
So it's fast and fun? You bet. It has electronic power steering, which mightn’t be as tactile in terms of road feel as a vehicle with a hydraulic steering setup, but it is rapid in its reactivity, and arguably offers better point-and-shoot ability as a result. Old diminutive Corby criticised it for being very light and somewhat lacking, but I reckon that as an entry point to the brand, it serves as a very manageable steering setup.
The adaptive magnetorhelogical dampers do a magnificent job in allowing the Portofino to ride over rough patches of road, including pockmarks and potholes. It hardly ever feels ruffled, although there is some scuttle shake to the windscreen, as is often found in convertible cars.
The most surprising element to this Ferrari is that it is supple and reserved at times, but can turn into a manic machine when you want it to.
With the Manettino drive-mode dial on the steering wheel set to Comfort, you will be rewarded with sedate progress and cushioning from the road surface below. In Sport mode, things are all a bit more growly and rigid. I personally found the transmission in this mode, when left in Auto, was eager to upshift to help save fuel, but still responded pretty quickly when I put my foot down hard.
Turning Auto off means it’s you, the pedals and the paddles, and the car won’t overrule your decisions. If you want to see just how realistic that 10,000rpm tacho top is, you can test it in first, second, third… oh wait, you need to keep your licence? Just keep it to first.
Its braking is tremendous, with aggressive application resulting in seatbelt-tensioning response. Plus not only was the ride comfortable, the balance and control of the chassis was both predictable and inherently manageable in corners, and there was plenty of grip, even in the damp.
With the roof down, the noise of the exhaust is exhilarating under hard throttle, but I found it droned a bit under less-urgent acceleration, and in most instances of ‘regular driving’ it actually just sounded loud, rather than lush.
Things that were annoying? The throttle response is dull for the first part of the pedal travel, making for some testing moments in traffic. Not helping that is the fact the engine stop-start system is exceptionally overactive. And that there’s no fuel use readout on the digital trip computer screen - I wanted to see what the car was claiming in terms of fuel use, but I couldn’t.
BMW 4 series6/10
BMW introduced a raft of tweaks to the 3 Series platform late last year, which have translated over to the 4 Series. The key addition across the line is BMW's two-stage adaptive dampers that feature a Sport and a Comfort circuit, fitted as part of the M Sport pack that comes standard on the 430 and 440, and is a $2600 option on the 420.
Larger 19-inch rims are fitted to the 430i and 440i cars, while the 420 gets 18s out of the box. It's possible to fit 18s on the more expensive cars, as part of the no-cost Luxury option pack that supplants the standard M Sport pack.
While our test was brief and held in less than ideal road conditions, the large-wheeled 4 Series really didn't enamour themselves to this author. There's a distinct lack of communication from the tyres and chassis through the steering wheel and your backside, while the combination of firm Sport shocks and large 19-inch wheels with narrow-section tyres made for an uncomfortable ride over country roads.
Sampling a 420i with the Luxury 18-inch rims, however, improved things immensely, with much better feedback and comfort that didn't come at the expense of handling.
One of BMW's strong points should be its steering, given all the 3 and 4 Series cars are still rear-wheel-drive… but it's not, unfortunately. The electrically assisted set up is far from perfectly calibrated, feeling too dull and digital underhand, no matter what the setting.
The pick of the bunch performance wise is – logically – the six-cylinder 440i. The turbo powerplant is potent from right down the rev range, with a muted yet still pleasing engine note permeating the cabin. The self-shifting mode on the eight-speed auto does a good job of keeping up as well.
The updated 2.0-litre four is a sprightly performer, too.
There is no ANCAP or Euro NCAP crash-test score available for any Ferrari model, and it’s fair to state that safety tech isn’t the reason you buy a Ferrari.
BMW 4 series8/10
Safety features for all cars in the 4 Series range include six airbags, lane departure warning, pre-collision safety pack, parking sensors, active cruise control with collision warning, AEB and pedestrian warning, along with reversing camera and surround-view cameras across the line.
Ferrari servicing won’t cost you a cent for the first seven years, and that’s whether you hold on to it or sell it - the new owner will have access to complementary maintenance for whatever is left of the initial seven-year period.
The standard warranty offer from Ferrari is a three-year plan, but if you sign up for the New Power15 program, Ferrari will cover your car for up to 15 years from the first registration date, and that includes cover for major mechanical components including the engine, transmission, suspension and steering. It reportedly costs $4617 for V8 models like this - a drop in the financial ocean at this price point.
BMW 4 series6/10
BMW offers a Service Inclusive program at the time of purchase, which for $1340 covers everything – including items like spark plugs, brake fluids and other fluids - for five years or 80,000 km scheduled. The cars are also covered by a three-year free roadside servicing program, in addition to BMW's two year, unlimited kilometre warranty.