Review and photos by Dan Heyman and Brendan McAleer
Highway 99, one of two major routes in and out of Vancouver, BC, starts out as a fairly ho-hum expressway connecting Vancouver with suburbs Richmond, Delta and Surrey to the South, and North Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler to the North.
The northerly route – also called the Sea-to-Sky Highway – once featured one of the better driving roads you could find (good enough to be raced on in 1997’s Need for Speed II video game), until the arrival of the Winter Olympic Games in 2010 forced the government to widen it, flatten it and generally make it easier to navigate (read: boring).
The revitalization, however, stopped at Whistler Village. Drive past that and on to Pemberton, and you get a better idea of what the road once was; tough, undulating terrain that ran mostly two lanes for its entire length (it was built into a cliff, after all) with precious few straights and a host of pinched hairpin curves.
However, it was even further up the road, past Pemberton that would be best suited for our test of the 2015 BMW M4 and Jaguar F-Type Coupe. There, it becomes a veritable automotive playground with off-camber turns, soft shoulders and a set of hairpins that could go toe-to-toe in the severity department with the best alpine roads Europe has to offer.
These two cars, with their rear-wheel drive, forced-induction six-cylinder powerplants and general smarmy attitudes, are made for these kinds of roads.
Now, it’s time to see who comes out on top.
You have to hand it to BMW for dousing their press vehicle in Austin Yellow Metallic paint, a slight modification of the Phoenix Yellow paint job that divided opinions of both journalists and buyers ever since it was the debut colour of the E46 BMW M3 in 2000.
Austin Yellow is a little less mustard-y, a little more metallic but still as in-your-face as any colour available for the M4, except maybe the matte Yas Marina Blue.
The M4’s stylistic presence doesn’t end there, either. The standard high-intensity discharge headlights give the distinct feeling they’re piercing straight into your soul, but have the side effect of being really, really good at night. The functional intakes crafted out of the front bumper should make any tuner proud and the big front fender flares provide a menacing stance. The way the new front fascia is shaped somehow makes it look like its bursting through the mold of a regular 4 Series, like the car can’t even contain its own M-ness.
2015 BMW M4 vs Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Click image to enlarge
And even though the wing mirrors are actually shaped to reduce drag, the result is artistic to the point where you’d assume it was strictly a form-over-function thing, which it isn’t.
It’s the view from the rear that really takes the cake, though. It’s from here that you can really see those fender flares, and the way the quad tailpipes blister out of the M4-specific rear diffuser just oozes muscle. Plus, it’s also from here that you get the best view – from the ground – of the fantastic carbon fibre roof, a carryover from last year’s M3.
Trouble is, the view from the rear of the Jag is not just the best perspective to view it from; it could very well have the nicest heiney in the business. That includes anything from Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche – well, maybe that last one is a bad example.
The way the rear hatch tapers down into those ultra-narrow taillights is an excellent homage to the E-Types of old, while the enormous twin outlet exhaust places the F-Type Coupe firmly in the here and now. It has fender flares, too, but chances are you’d be far too distracted by that wonderful rump to really notice them.
2015 BMW M4 & 2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe V6S. Click image to enlarge
It doesn’t end there, either. Some may say the headlight lenses look a little too much like the examples seen on the Corvette Stingray, but the flare the LED running lights provide once you blip the unlock button is enough to make you forget all that. Plus, the hood they crown (it’s rear-hinged, just like Jags of old) is nice, long and proud without being overly so. Indeed, the proportions when seen in silhouette are bang on. While the exterior colour’s name (Salsa Red) is pretty lame, it looks fantastic on the F-Type. That in itself is a sign of Jaguar’s modernization – it wasn’t too long ago when even the sportiest of Jags just seemed a little old school for any colours not named black, silver or British Racing Green.
Probably helps that the F-Type is the more compact car of the duo, with a shorter wheelbase and overall length than the M4, which seems quite large by comparison.
It’s unfair, really, for the M4 to be put up against such beauty – there’s very little you can do when the car you’re up against, in this writer’s humble opinion, is the best looking vehicle on the market.