Jaguar F-Type VS BMW 4 series
- Tarmac-tearing performance
- Surprising comfort
- Just look at it
- Short on active safety tech
- Tight entry/egress
BMW 4 series
- Unapologetic styling
- High-quality cabin
- Dynamically engaging
- Squeezy rear seats
- 420i/430i starts to get thrashy in high revs
- Adaptive cruise should be standard
After a long gestation period where a variety of Jaguar corporate overlords toyed with the idea of a successor to the all-time iconic E-Type, the F-Type finally emerged in late 2013 to a global intake of breath.
Over time the formula has become more complex, with the arrival of a coupe version, powerhouse R and full-fat SVR variants, special editions including the exotic Project 7, and more recently, 2.0-litre, turbo four-cylinder models to make this stunning two-seater more accessible.
A late 2019 update added some extra catnip, including a redesigned nose and this is the flagship F-Type R, complete with supercharged V8 power and performance-focused underpinnings. Time to dive into this latest chapter of the Jaguar F-Type story.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
BMW 4 series
When BMW’s first-generation 4 Series landed in 2013, it looked and drove like little more than a 3 Series sedan minus the two rear doors, and that’s because it was.
Sure, the looks might not be to everyone’s taste, but surely BMW’s renowned driver-focused dynamics will be enough for the 4 Series to carve out its niche in the premium sports coupe space … right?
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
BMW 4 series8.3/10
BMW has once again delivered a supremely enjoyable sports car with its new 2021 4 Series.
Sure, it might have love-it or hate-it styling, but those that dismiss the 4 Series based solely on looks are missing out on a wonderful driving experience.
With the base 420i offering all the style in a relatively affordable pricetag, while the all-wheel-drive grip of the M440i adds extra assurance at a more premium price, BMW's new 4 Series should cater to anyone looking for a premium sports coupe.
Although it kicked off as a roadster, a coupe version of the F-Type was always part of the plan. In fact, Jaguar's C-X16 concept, that in 2011 previewed the eventual production car, was a hardtop.
Following the Coupe's public reveal at the 2013 Los Angeles motor show, I asked Jaguar's then head of design, Ian Callum, if the bean counters had vetoed the concept's ultra-cool side-opening hatch door; one of many styling hat tips to the E-Type. His response was a wry smile and slow nod of the head.
It's a shame that door didn't make it to the showroom floor, but the E-Type is still a strong design influence on its successor.
At close to 4.5m long, around 1.9m wide, and a fraction over 1.3m tall, the F-Type R looks more compact in the metal than it does in photographs, arguably the hallmark of a successful sports car design.
A long, flowing (front-hinged) bonnet (Jaguar calls its shape 'liquid metal' sculpture) projects forward from a rear-set cabin, with broad but tightly wrapped haunches behind it. The 20-inch, 10-spoke rims (in 'Gloss Black' with diamond-turned finish) fill the wheel arches perfectly.
I'm a huge fan of the tail-light cluster design, subtly reprofiled in the late 2019 update, which echoes the shape of the Series 1 E-Type and other classic Jags, but found it harder to warm to the outgoing F-Type's squarish headlight treatment.
Always a subjective call, but to my eyes this car's slimmer, more feline (LED) eyes and ever-so-slightly larger grille deliver a better front to rear balance. And slender, flush-fitting pop-out exterior door handles remain sub-zero cool.
Our 'Santorini Black' test car had been optioned with the 'Exterior Black Design Pack' ($1820) for an extra hint of menace. It applies body-colour to the front splitter, side sills, and rear diffuser, at the same time blacking out the grille surround, side vents, side window surrounds, rear valance, Jaguar script, F-Type badge and 'Leaper' emblem.
Jaguar describes this two-seater as a '1+1', confirming the F-Type's focus on the driver, and our test car's tan leather interior emphasises the fact.
Tan dash on the passenger side, complete with flying buttress-style grab handle for extra support when g-force starts to build. Contrasted by all black and all business on the driver's side.
A broad centre stack houses the 10-inch multimedia touchscreen, with easy-to-use dials for the climate control system below. And the 12.3-inch reconfigurable hi-def instrument cluster (with graphics unique to the F-type) is a model of clarity and simplicity.
The latter offers a choice of display themes, including full nav map, but the default mode highlights a large central tachometer. Nice.
An impressive design feature carried over from the previous model is deployable front air vents. The dashtop remains flat until a given climate control temperature setting causes an upper section, housing a pair of adjustable vents, to gently rise. Very cool (no pun intended).
BMW 4 series10/10
Let’s get this out of the way. The 2021 BMW 4 Series is not an ugly car, despite what you may think from the press photos found online.
Is it to everyone’s tastes? Of course not, but I find the gaudy, in-your-face gold-on-black that is Versace’s signature styling a little gross … so your milage will definitely vary on the 4 Series like mine does with high-end fashion.
In person, that grille is nowhere near as overwhelming as pictures may have led you to believe, and blends in very nicely with the aggressive and muscular front end of the 4 Series.
In profile, the high shoulder line and slim glasshouse add to the sportiness, as does the sloping roofline and butch rear haunches.
The rear though, is arguably the 4 Series best exterior angle, as the pinched bumper, wraparound tail-lights, large exhaust outlets and subtle rear diffuser combine well for a properly sporty and premium look.
All Australian-spec cars come with the M Sport package, meaning a full bodykit, and 19-inch wheels to make even the boggo 420i look aggressive on the road.
Does it work? Well if it wasn’t wearing a BMW badge then it might not get away with this ostentatious styling, but being a big premium player, we think the 4 Series gets away with being as brash and in-your-face as it is.
We actually love that BMW has taken a risk with the 4 Series’ aesthetics and is willing to push the envelope because, after all, it could have just looked like the 3 Series sans-two doors, and that’s just a bit too safe, isn’t it?
Inside, the 4 Series is familiar BMW territory, which means a thick-rimmed steering wheel, glossy shifter and brushed metal accents, as well as high-quality materials throughout.
The dashboard-integrated multimedia system is a particularly nice touch, as are the metal accents that separate the lower and upper halves of the cabin.
So, is there anything interesting about the design? Absolutely. It’s got the internet talking more than usual and will no doubt draw the eye of those wanting to stand out from the often-samey crowd of German sports cars.
If you're intending to daily drive your F-Type R, make sure your yoga fees are up to date, because entry and egress are for the fleet of foot and flexible of limb.
Once inside, though, within the bounds of its two-door coupe format, the F-Type offers an array of storage options, including a decent glove box, centre storage box/armrest, small door bins, a netted pocket on the top of the bulkhead between the seats, and a pair of console cupholders.
Power and connectivity runs to a 12V socket in the dash, with another in the central storage bin, alongside two USB-A ports, and a micro SIM slot.
Notwithstanding the (alloy) space saver plonked on the boot floor, the F-Type Coupe delivers worthwhile cargo space, with 310 litres on offer, rising to 408 with the load cover removed.
That's enough to swallow small (36-litre) and large (95-litre) suitcases together, and there are two (nicely chromed) tie-down anchor, as well as elasticised retaining straps at either end of a small ledge on the bulkhead.
BMW 4 series8/10
Measuring 4768mm long, 1842mm wide, 1383mm tall and with a 2851mm wheelbase, the 2021 BMW 4 Series certainly looks commanding on the road, and the generous proportions do well for interior space too.
Of note though, the M440i is slightly longer (4770mm), wider (1852mm) and taller (1393mm) than the 420i and 430i, but the slight variance doesn’t translate to any perceivable difference in practicality.
Up front, there is plenty of space for driver and passenger, with a wide array of seat adjustability offering nearly the perfect position for nearly everyone regardless of shape or size.
Storage options include a generous door pocket with separate bottle holder, large central storage cubby, generous glove box, and two cupholders sited between the shifter and climate controls.
We love that the wireless smartphone charger is tucked well away just ahead of the cupholders, meaning you don’t have to worry about keys or loose change scratching up your screen, and it doesn’t eat into any of the other storage options around the cabin.
Being a coupe, you wouldn’t expect heaps of room in the second row, and the BMW 4 Series certainly doesn’t defy expectations in this regard.
Adult passengers can get in the back easy enough, thanks to auto-folding front seats, but once there, head- and shoulder-room can be a bit tight, while legroom is dependent on the height of front passengers.
We’ve certainly been in worse back seats though, and the deeply recessed seats help alleviate some of the headroom issues, but its not a space for the claustrophobic.
Open the boot and the 4 Series will swallow up to 440 litres of volume and, thanks to the wide space, can easily accommodate a set of golf clubs or weekend luggage for two.
The second row is divided 40:20:40, so you can fold down the middle to transport skis (or timber from Bunnings) while still ferrying four.
Folding the rear seats down will increase your cargo volume, but the aperture between the boot and cabin is quite small, so you might want to keep that in mind before heading to Ikea.
Price and features
It's hard to pin down direct competitors for the $262,936 F-Type R, except one; Porsche's 911 Carrera S, a clear price and performance rival at $274,000.
With a 3.0-litre, twin-turbo 'flat' six producing 331kW/530Nm the 911 is capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in just 3.7sec, which (surprise, surprise) exactly matches the Jag's claimed performance number.
Cast the net a little wider and you'll snag the likes of Nissan's GT-R Track Edition on the low side ($235,000), and the Mercedes-Benz S 560 Coupe ($326,635) for around $50K above the F-Type's asking price. So, the standard features list needs to be impressive, and long story short, it is.
Drilling down to the depths of detail on this car's equipment spec would need a review of its own, so here's the highlights package.
The 10-inch 'Touch Pro' multimedia screen manages a 380-watt Meridian audio system featuring 10 speakers (including subwoofer), digital radio, dynamic volume control and a 10-channel amp, as well as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth connectivity.
It's also the gateway to the car's configurable dynamic set-up, 'Navigation Pro', phone connection, ambient lighting, reversing camera, and a lot more.
Full-grain 'Windsor' leather is applied to the 12-way, electrically-adjustable (plus memory) performance seats. There's also a 12.3-inch customisable digital instrument cluster, cruise control (and speed limiter), keyless entry and start, auto rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming and power folding heated door mirrors (with memory), a switchable active exhaust, LED headlights, DRLs and tail-lights, as well as an electrically adjustable steering column (with memory), climate control, powered boot lid, 20-inch alloy wheels, racy red brake calipers, and specific 'R' branding on the leather-trimmed sports steering wheel, door tread plates, and centre console.
BMW 4 series9/10
Standard equipment includes sport seats, LED headlights, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, push-button start, automatic wipers, Alcantara/Sensetec (vinyl-like) interior trim, three-zone climate control and 10-speaker sound system, but it’s the inclusion of an M Sport package and 19-inch wheels that really elevate the look of the new 4 Series to a real sporty model.
The latter two were options in the previous generation, but so many customers (we’re told close to 90%) opted for the sportier looks that BMW just decided to bundle them into the asking price.
The 420i also comes fitted with a 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system that includes digital radio, satellite navigation, wireless smartphone charger, and wireless Apple CarPlay AND Android Auto (finally some love for Samsung owners!).
It’s remarkable then, that the new 420i is actually almost $4100 cheaper than the model it replaces, while also boasting more equipment, safety and torque.
Stepping up to the 430i increases pricing to $88,900 ($6400 pricier than before), while also adding more equipment such as adaptive dampers, keyless entry, surround-view camera, M Sport brakes, leather interior and active cruise control.
Outputs from the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine are also increased in the 430i (again, more below).
The current king of the 4 Series range until the M4 lands early next year is the M440i, priced at $116,900, but includes a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine and all-wheel-drive grip.
On the outside, the M440i can be distinguished by the standard inclusion of BMW’s Laserlight technology, sunroof and heated front seats, as well as ‘Cerium Grey’ colouring for the kidney grille, tailpipe shrouds and side-view mirrors.
Being a German model, there is (of course) a smattering of options available – including remote engine start and a heated steering wheel – but none jump out as crucial or ‘must have’ in any way.
We appreciate that the base 4 Series looks largely the same as its more expensive siblings, while also offering all the key equipment you’d want out of a premium sports coupe in 2020.
Engine & trans
The F-Type R is powered by Jaguar's all-alloy (AJ133) 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine, featuring direct-injection, variable (intake) cam timing, and an Eaton (Roots-type) blower to produce 423kW (567hp) at 6500rpm, and 700Nm from 3500-5000rpm.
The AWD system is based on an electro-hydraulic multi-plate (wet) clutch, controlled by a centrifugal electro-hydraulic actuator. Default front/rear drive balance is 10/90, although Jaguar claims even a full shift of power from 100 per cent rear to 100 per cent front takes just 165 milliseconds.
The IDD system continuously monitors each wheel's speed and traction, suspension compression, steering angle and braking force, as well as the car's rotational state.
It then uses an algorithm to determine which wheel(s) are likely to lose traction, and before grip is lost, transfer drive to the wheels that can make best use of it.
BMW 4 series7/10
Both the entry-level and mid-tier 4 Series variants (420i and 430i respectively) are powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
Under the bonnet of the 420i, the engine produces 135kW/300Nm, while the 430i ups the ante to 190kW/400Nm.
The flagship (at launch) M440i meanwhile, scores a 3.0-litre turbo-petrol inline six delivering 285kW/500Nm.
All three engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, with no manual option available on any grade.
The 420i and 430i send drive to the rear wheels, resulting in a zero to 100km/h sprint time of 7.5 and 5.8 seconds respectively, while the all-wheel-drive M440i needs just 4.5s.
Stacked up against its German rivals, the 4 Series offers a decent engine line-up, but doesn’t excel at any level compared to the Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe.
Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 11.3L/100km, the F-Type R emitting 269g/km of CO2 in the process.
Despite the standard auto stop/start function, over close to 350km of city, suburban, and freeway running we recorded a (dash-indicated) average of 16.1L/100km.
That's a solid drinking habit, but it kind of goes with this performance territory, and we did lean into the throttle on a regular basis.
Recommended fuel is 95 RON premium unleaded, and you'll need 70 litres of it to fill the tank. That equates to a range of 619km in line with the factory claim, and 434km using our real-world number as a guide.
BMW 4 series8/10
Officially, the 420i will sip 6.4 litres per 100km, while the 430i is slightly thirstier at 6.6L/100km.
Both aforementioned 4 Series variants will need 95 RON at the bowser.
The heavier and more potent M440i needs 7.8L/100km, while also using the more expensive 98 RON fuel.
We only drove through Melbourne country roads in our brief time with all three grades of the 4 Series and could not ascertain a reliable fuel economy figure.
Our driving did not cover an extended freeway journey or any inner-city driving, so check back to see if the quoted figures hold up to scrutiny once we get more time with the car.
Yep, no surprise, the 2021 Jaguar F-Type R is a proper, rip-snorting, beast of a machine. Weighing in at just over 1.7 tonnes, with 423kW/700Nm to propel it forward, in terms of straight line acceleration, it's every bit the scalded cat.
Bury the right foot and it will storm from 0-100km/h in just 3.7 seconds, with furious aural accompaniment courtesy of the 4.0-litre supercharged V8 and sports exhaust system. Electrically-actuated bypass valves in the latter's rear silencer remain closed until they automatically open under load, and boy, do they open up.
Prospective F-Type R owners wishing to remain on good terms with their neighbours will be pleased to know there's a 'Quiet Start function', but once you're a few blocks clear the engine is capable of alerting the entire suburb to you presence, complete with raucous crackles and pops on the overrun.
All 700Nm of maximum torque is available from 3500rpm through to 5000rpm, and mid-range thrust is ferocious. If you have access to a long enough private road Jaguar claims this car will storm on to a (electronically-limited!) maximum velocity of 300km/h.
The eight-speed auto transmission has picked up several tweaks courtesy of the XE-based SV Project 8, and it's brilliant. A conventional torque-converter based unit, rather than a dual-clutch, it's dubbed 'Quickshift', and that it does. Manual flicks between ratios, using the wheel-mounted paddles, are rapid and positive.
Head for your favourite B-road, and it's the F-Type R's ability to put every bit of its power down, without fuss, that impresses next. Push into a series of tight corners and the car grips, settles, and simply surges from one bend to the next, the tricky AWD system seamlessly shuffling torque between the axles and individual wheels.
The standard electronic active diff, and torque vectoring (by braking) also help keep everything under control, turning backroad tryhards into apex hunting virtuosos.
Suspension is by (aluminium) double wishbones front and rear, with revised springs and anti-roll bars added in the 2019 upgrade. Continuously-variable dampers underpin the 'Adaptive Dynamics' system, learning your style and adjusting accordingly.
The electrically-assisted power steering combines great road feel with satisfying accuracy, and the car feels balanced yet agile and responsive in enthusiastic driving.
In a more relaxed mode the adaptive set-up detects rough road conditions and adjusts the suspension settings for greater ride comfort. According to Jaguar, the damper valves and control algorithms have been recalibrated to improve low-speed comfort and high-speed control, and I can vouch for their effectiveness.
Not long after steering this F-Type R I spent some time in the supercharged V6 F-Type P380 R-Dynamic, and this R is far more compliant.
Rubber is a specially-developed Pirelli P Zero (265/35 fr - 305/30 rr), and the supremely efficient brakes are ventilated 380mm at the front, and 376mm rear.
BMW 4 series9/10
Anything wearing a BMW badge promises a fun and engaging drive, after all the brand’s tagline used to be the ‘ultimate driving machine’, which is exacerbated in a sporty two-door.
Luckily then, the 4 Series delivers the goods and is a thoroughly enjoyable drive in all three grades.
Taking the already brilliant new-generation 3 Series as a base, BMW has made the 4 Series lower, and added additional stiffening in the front and rear for a taught and agile handling machine.
The rear track is also increased, while the front wheels have more negative camber to help with mid-corner grip.
Though the 420i and 430i might not draw any headlines, they 2.0-litre turbo-petrol pair are fun to steer and precise with their inputs.
The 420i especially doesn’t have the punch to match its aggressive looks, but is perfectly capable at slower speeds and still a delight to tip in a corner.
The 430i meanwhile, delivers more thrills thanks to its more potent engine, but it can get a bit trashy higher in the rev range.
However, the pick of the bunch for us the M440i, not only for its extra spicy engine, but also the assurance of all-wheel drive.
Now it might be sacrilege to some to not have a rear-drive BMW, but the rear-biased xDrive system in the M440i is wonderfully tuned to deliver the same sort of natural driving characteristic of a two-wheel-drive model.
Undoubtedly the near-perfect weight distribution helps with this, while the wonderfully low driving position means the whole car feels like it pivots around the driver when turning the wheel.
The M Sport differential in the rear is also great at propelling out you out of the bends, while the adaptive suspension also has great variability between comfort and sport settings.
If we had any criticism with the driving experience? We’d have liked a bit more aural theatre, but BMW have to save the louder pops and crackles for the full-fat M4, right?
A big caveat here though is that we have yet to experience the new 4 Series in a suburban setting, with our launch route taking us directly to some twisty country roads.
We also never got to drive the 4 Series in a freeway setting, meaning all of the driving was done in twisty country roads where you would expect a BMW to excel.
The F-Type hasn't been assessed by ANCAP, but as well as the usual active safety suspects like ABS, EBD, traction and dynamic stability controls, the R features an AEB system operating at speeds above five km/h, Vehicle detection is in place at speeds of up to 80km/h, and pedestrian detection up to 60km/h.
The AWD system facilitates specific 'Rain', 'Ice', and 'Snow' modes, plus there's active high-beam, lane keep assist, a reversing camera, as well as front and rear parking sensors, and a 'Driver Condition Monitor.'
But cross-traffic alert (front or rear) is missing-in-action, blind spot assist is an option ($900), as is park assist ($700), and tyre pressure monitoring ($700). Any car that's crested the $250K barrier should have all of these as standard.
If an impact's unavoidable there are six airbags (front, side, and curtain). But remember, the front passenger seat is a no-go zone for a rear-facing child restraint. And Jaguar says, "A child should only travel in the front passenger seat if it is essential and national or state legislation permits it."
BMW 4 series7/10
BMW’s 2021 4 Series has not been crash tested by either Euro NCAP or ANCAP, and does not wear an official safety rating.
However, the mechanically related 3 Series sedan was awarded a maximum five-star rating when it was examined in October 2019, but do keep in mind that the child occupant protection scores could vary wildly due to the 4 Series’ coupe shape.
The 3 Series scored 97 per cent for the adult occupant protection test, and 87 per cent for the child occupant exam. Meanwhile, the vulnerable road user protection and safety assist tests yielded an 87 and 77 per cent result respectively.
As standard, the 4 Series is equipped with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, reversing camera, and front and rear parking sensors.
Jaguar covers its Australian new car range with a three-year/100,000km warranty, which looks particularly stingy next to the mainstream market norm of five years/unlimited km, and lags other premium players like Mercedes-Benz and Genesis, both sitting at five years/unlimited km.
On the plus side, paint and corrosion (perforation) are warranted for three years, and roadside assistance is complimentary for 12 months.
And on the big plus side, scheduled servicing for the F-Type (determined by an on-board service interval indicator) is free-of-charge for five years/130,000km.
BMW 4 series8/10
Like all new BMW models, the 4 Series comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
However, the benchmark for premium brands belongs to Mercedes-Benz, who offer a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, while Genesis matches the time period but limits travel to 100,000km.
Scheduled servicing for the 4 Series occurs every 12 months or 16,000km.
At the time of purchase, BMW offers a five-year/80,000 ‘basic’ service package that covers scheduled changing engine oil, filter, spark plugs and brake fluids.
This package costs $1650, which works out to be a very reasonable $330 per service.
A more thorough ‘plus’ plan is also available for $4500 that also covers brake pads/discs, clutch and windscreen wiper replacements over the same five-year/80,000km period.