Jaguar F-Type VS BMW Alpina B4
- Natural handling
- Punchy engine
- Fun to drive
- No reversing camera
- Some absurd options
- Small boot
BMW Alpina B4
- Ride and handling
- Brilliant engine
- The price
- No Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Some dodgy styling features
There's an old automotive saying that says “only milk and juice comes in two litres”, but that’s not the case anymore. Now, you can get liquid fun in a 2.0-litre mechanical package, too.
That’s because of cars like this, the new 2018 Jaguar F-Type, which has seen the addition of a new four-cylinder engine that still packs plenty of power and torque, is lighter than its big-engine siblings, and – perhaps best of all – in base model guise, is more affordable than any F-Type to date.
Sounds promising, huh? Well, there are some really convincing parts to this car – but also some things that are downright questionable.
Allow me to explain…
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
BMW Alpina B4
If you're looking for a sleek, two-door coupe with a sparkling chassis, rear-wheel drive and a charismatic turbo straight-six, BMW has you covered with about eight choices. That should be that, then. But wait. There's more.
Since 1965, Alpina - the name of a resurrected a typewriter company - has collaborated closely with BMW to produce distinct, high performance Alpina-badged cars. It actually started with a Weber dual-carburettor unofficial conversion for the BMW 1500 in 1962 and over the years built into a racing operation winning championships and races like the Spa 24 Hours.
Alpina returned to Australian shores in 2017 after a long hiatus with a new range including the BMW 4 Series based B4. Not long after, BMW updated the 4 in what it calls LCI (Lifecycle Impulse), so Alpina followed suit with a price drop, new gear and called it the B4 S.
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The 2018 Jaguar F-Type in four-cylinder spec is a very intriguing option in the sports car segment.
It’s clearly not without its faults, but the entry-grade engine offers a thought-provoking alternative to the pricier supercharged V6 and V8 versions.
Would you consider a four-cylinder Jaguar F-Type? Let us know in the comments section below.
BMW Alpina B47.4/10
You could almost call the B4 S the anti-M4. It's still fast and practical but from a completely different perspective. It's much more a grand tourer than the M4 and even with the Akrapovic exhaust (usually a byword for joyous, anti-social racket), subtle.
For some, the price won't matter because the Alpina delivers what they want - M4-like straight line performance without the histrionics or the uncompromising chassis. And there's also a bit of that perverse exclusivity of the styling that you won't get anywhere else.
Is Peter right? Is it the anti-M4? Or just a tarted up 4 with a bit of extra grunt?
The most interesting thing about the F-Type four-cylinder model is that it’s almost indistinguishable as being the most affordable version in the range.
I mean, unless you know that the trapezoidal central tailpipe is the only real giveaway (and the noise that comes out of it, for that matter!), you’d be hard-pressed to notice a difference. That’s because most F-Type buyers add heaps of styling options.
For instance, the cars we drove at the launch of the new model were all the R-Dynamic version, which exchanges the newly developed 18-inch light alloy wheels for bigger, heavier 19s. And then—why not?—those 19s were changed again for a different looking set of 19s, but still wore Pirelli P-Zero tyres.
It still sits low and looks mean, and the newly added LED headlights with LED daytime running lights are quite fetching, even if their addition has meant the front-end looks less cat-like than before.
It’s still a stunner, though – even more than four years after its launch.
BMW Alpina B47/10
Alpina has always had a particular aesthetic that could uncharitably be termed as mid-'80s West German - all set square angles and body graphics. Think David Hasselhoff's Berlin Wall look. The company has never really deviated from adding squared-off body bits to the various BMWs it has rebadged under its long-running agreement.
For the B4S, Alpina adds the signature billion-spoke alloy wheels (only a slight exaggeration), a new front splitter complete with Alpina lettering, a weirdly proportioned boot lid lip spoiler and - not even joking - pinstripes. Like I said, mid-'80s West German. You can still recognise the sleek 4 Series Coupe but perhaps the worst of it is the super-sized, wonky-looking ALPINA B4S on the boot.
Inside is rather more restrained apart from the ill-fitting Alpina plaque under the climate control. Again, it's all 4 Series in here, with the lovely Merino leather liberally applied across the cabin. Less lovely is the wood on the door pulls and console but the door cards have an oddly appealing woven leather which looks and feels good.
Sadly the standard 4 Series steering wheel is along for the ride. There's nothing wrong with it - although the Alpina logo does look out of place - but if I were a product planner, I'd beg for the lovelier M wheel.
You don’t buy a Jaguar F-Type if you’re after the last word in practicality. It’s not a pragmatic purchase – but for its, er, type, it’s a reasonably practical space.
The F-Type still has some useful elements to the cockpit, including a decent centre console bin between the seats, a small mesh pocket above that, two cupholders, and a reasonable glove box. The door pockets have bottle holders, and a little extra storage besides.
As it has been made clear before, the F-Type has a boot that is almost small enough to rule out a long weekend trip, particularly in the convertible. The drop-top’s boot capacity is 196 litres, and is interfered with by a spare wheel, while the coupe has up to 407L of space (if you’re going beyond the parcel shelf; otherwise, it’s a 315L hold).
It’s purely a two-seater, so there are no top-tether or ISOFIX child-seat anchor points. If you’re particularly tall, you might find yourself a bit cramped.
Believe it or not, vanity mirrors are optional. I mean, I know the slimline visors are pretty hopeless, but sheeeeeeesh.
BMW Alpina B46/10
If you're in the front, you're in luck - it's a comfortable place to be, with plenty of leg and headroom. Down back isn't terrible despite the coupe roofline. The two seats are nicely shaped for maximum comfort and separated by an odd plastic tray. The fold-down armrest has two cupholders.
Front seat passengers score a pair of cupholders (bring the total to four for the car) and the long doors will hold a bottle each.
The boot swallows a reasonable 445 litres, which isn't at all bad.
Price and features
The entry-grade F-Type four-cylinder models are priced at $107,012 for the coupe, while the convertible model adds $18,000 to the asking price ($125,712). Both are automatic – there’s no manual option.
To contextualise that, if you want the supercharged V6 engine instead, you’ll need to spend $126,212 for one with an automatic transmission (there’s a cheaper manual version, which is five grand less).
Standard equipment for the four-cylinder model includes new light alloy 18-inch wheels, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, part-leather sports seats with electric adjustment, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminium interior trim elements, keyless ignition and auto headlights/wipers.
A lot of premium brands are adding heaps of equipment to their cars to keep sales ticking over. Jaguar, though, continues to take buyers for a walk down to path to the old Ripoff Pool in terms of optional extras.
Believe it or not, Jaguar asks you to spend more for dual-zone climate control ($1040), keyless entry ($1200), and even a reversing camera. Yes – you read that right: a modern-day car company has the audacity to ask buyers to option a potentially life-saving reversing camera, and at a cost of $1080, too. Rear parking sensors are standard... which is something.
See the safety section below for more disgust on that.
If you’re looking at a Jaguar F-Type, other vehicles that could be on your shopping list include the Porsche 718 Boxster convertible and Porsche 718 Cayman coupe, the Alfa Romeo 4C and the Lotus Exige – all of which arguably have a harder edged sporting intent to them than this car.
BMW Alpina B47/10
If you thought BMW don't mess about when pricing up its cars, you best strap yourself in. The 440i-based B4S starts at a solid $149,900. That's $48,000 more than the 440i and significantly more than an M4 Pure. But there's plenty of gear on offer and some genuine, bespoke Alpina additions.
Standard are 20-inch signature Alpina alloys, 16-speaker harmon kardon-branded stereo with DAB, super-soft Merino leather everywhere, dual-zone climate control, around-view cameras, reversing camera, sat nav, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, active cruise control, heated and electric front seats, head-up display, auto headlights and active LED headlights, LED taillights and electric sunroof.
The stereo and sat nav are run by BMW's iDrive. It's a cracker of a system and almost gets away without Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The absence of such simple pleasures at this price point is a bit lame, but here we are.
Engine & trans
The F-Type’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine is one of the more potent engines of this type out there, with a solid 221kW of power (at 5500rpm) and 400Nm of torque (from 1500-4500rpm).
It is only available in rear-wheel drive, and only with an eight-speed automatic with paddle-shifters. For reference, the supercharged V6 can be had with a six-speed manual and rear-drive, while the supercharged V8 is auto and all-wheel drive only.
Jaguar claims a 0-100km/h time of 5.7 seconds, which is sprightly, if not manic, and a top speed of 250km/h… not that you’ll ever find it in Australia.
BMW Alpina B49/10
A lot of your extra money turns up under the bonnet. These days the 440i packs BMW's slick B58 turbo straight six and the B4S does likewise. The boys from Buchloe in Bavaria (there are certain to be women there, too, I just liked the alliteration) added a pair of Alpina-spec turbos to generate a whopping 324kW and, more importantly, 660Nm. Alpina says 600Nm (the max torque figure of the brilliant M4 CS) is available from 2000-5000rpm, while the full 660Nm is available from 3000 to 4500rpm.
The M4 Pure has 317kW and 550Nm from the S55 straight-six. Just so you know.
Like the 440i but unlike the M4, the B4S employs the dependably brilliant eight-speed ZF automatic found throughout the BMW range.
Jaguar claims fuel consumption of 7.2 litres per 100 kilometres for the F-Type four-cylinder model, which is more frugal than the supercharged V6 and throbbing V8 models by some margin.
Over our loop, which involved a good stint of spirited driving, some freeway cruising and some Sydney traffic, we saw 9.9L/100km. I think that’s totally acceptable.
While I might have some serious qualms about the brand’s priorities in terms of specs and standard safety kit, there’s no doubt you get what you pay for in terms of performance.
Wait, you could read that the wrong way… I’m not saying that because you’re choosing the most affordable F-Type that you’re getting the most budget-feeling drive experience. This is still a truly sporty car – in fact, it’s more of a purist offering than the muscle monsters that are the supercharged V6 and V8 models.
That’s because it’s lighter, and it truly feels more agile than those cars.
With 52kg less weight to contend with, the four-cylinder is more pointable in corners, and that lower kerb weight makes for a natural driving experience.
In the gruntier models you can spend time trying to catch the car’s balance in the bends, but not in the four-cylinder – it has beautiful balance, holding a line very nicely. That’s enough you make it feel like you’re sewing a smooth ribbon through a series of corners, where in the V8 model you might end up making a zig-zag stitch. It goes well, and stops terrifically, too.
The ride is firm, but it’s a sports car, so that’s excusable. You will notice more of the bumps in the convertible, the body of which has been stiffened up to deal with the lack of a fixed roof. And while you will notice big lumps in the road, and you’ll hear and feel potholes, it’s never annoyingly uncomfortable.
After spending a few hours in the car, I think it’d be the ideal coastal cruiser… you just might have to make it a day trip rather than a weekend away because of that teeny-weeny boot.
If it were my money and I was set on a F-Type four-pot I’d buy the coupe, because it is more resolved on patchy road surfaces and has a bigger boot. If you want the wind in your hair, just wind down the windows.
BMW Alpina B49/10
One of the key differences between the B4 and M4 is the ride. While the M4 can crash over bumps and generally be a little hard to live with, the crew in Buchloe have gone after a much more plush ride. And in that they have succeeded because the B4 S is a mighty fine cruiser. Bumps are dismissed with a haughty disdain, even Sport + silliness doesn't completely write-off ride quality.
Very impressive too, is the steering. While still not at Lotus Elise levels of feel (few cars are), the Alpina tweaks connect the your palms to the road with more clarity than what you'll find in the 440i or M4. Where the M4 particularly adds too much weight, the 440i is a bit more circumspect in that regard.
And then we come to the engine. The B58 six is a belter, better even than the N55 that preceded it. It's still a 3.0-litre straight six but is part of BMW's modular engine family that starts with a 1.5-litre triple in the Mini and 1 Series. The Alpina-spec turbos are noisier, the Akrapovic exhaust lighter and also noisier. It doesn't have the all-out crackle and pop of an Audi or Merc (perish the thought), but when you're on it, the B4 means business. The 660Nm of torque, available over a wide rev range, delivers a steel fist wrapped in a velvet glove and bubble wrap - the speed builds rapidly but smoothly.
The approach to the chassis tune seems to be based on the driving talents of mere mortals on normal roads, which is kind of like the 440i. It's terrific fun to drive hard but it's very forgiving and patient. The great thing about it is that you wouldn't think twice about jumping in it for the long haul, so comfortable and quiet is the cabin. The M4 will leave it for dead on a winding road, but that's perfectly fine.
One irritant is the replacement of the admittedly cheap BMW gearshift paddles with weirdly non-tactile buttons. They're not particularly easy to use and, probably worse for a sporty car, unsatisfying. It's an odd detail with which to go off the reservation. Cheeringly, the eight-speed ZF is its usual perfect self, so you don't have to worry too much about manual mode or go old school and use the shifter.
This is a hard criterion to score it against. There has never been a Jaguar F-Type flung against various objects at different speeds to ascertain a safety score, so we can’t give it a hat-tip for a strong ANCAP or EuroNCAP score.
And the lack of a standard-fit reversing camera is one of the most absurd things we’ve encountered in a high-end car for a bloody long time. But it's not unusual - you've got to pay for a reversing camera in a Porsche 718 Cayman or Boxster, too.
For what it’s worth, you can option the further safety of lane-keeping assist and driver fatigue monitoring. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are optional as well – you can get all of those bits in a pack, if you like, for the sum of $2210.
But honestly, a reversing camera being a $1080 option is simply disgusting on a car that has rearward vision as poor as this one does.
F-Types come with six airbags in the coupe and four in the convertible.
BMW Alpina B48/10
The standard warranty offered on the Jaguar range is three years/100,000km, and it includes roadside assist for that period. There’s the option of an extended warranty up to five years/200,000km in total, too.
The F-Type attracts Jaguar’s free servicing campaign – so, according to the company’s website, you won’t have to pay a single dollar for standard scheduled servicing over the first five years/130,000km. Maintenance is due every two years or 26,000km.