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The M4 has standard City Collision Mitigation, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The 4C doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.
The M4’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The 4C doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.
The M4 offers an optional Side and Top View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The 4C only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.
The M4’s optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The 4C doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.
The M4 has standard BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The 4C doesn’t offer a GPS response system, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.
Both the M4 and the 4C have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.
The BMW M4 weighs 1138 to 1678 pounds more than the Alfa Romeo 4C. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.
The M4’s corrosion warranty is 8 years longer than the 4C’s (12 vs. 4 years).
BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the M4 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Alfa Romeo only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the 4C.
There are almost 2 times as many BMW dealers as there are Alfa Romeo dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the M4’s warranty.
A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the M4’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 4C’s camshafts. If the 4C’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.
To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the M4 has a standard 209-amp alternator. The 4C’s 160-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.
To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the M4 has a standard 900-amp battery. The 4C’s 500-amp battery isn’t as powerful.
The M4’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 188 more horsepower (425 vs. 237) and 148 lbs.-ft. more torque (406 vs. 258) than the 4C’s 1.8 turbo 4 cyl. The M4’s optional 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 207 more horsepower (444 vs. 237) and 148 lbs.-ft. more torque (406 vs. 258) than the 4C’s 1.8 turbo 4 cyl.
As tested in Motor Trend the BMW M4 (base engine) is faster than the Alfa Romeo 4C (automatics tested):
Zero to 60 MPH
Speed in 1/4 Mile
In heavy traffic or at stoplights the M4’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The 4C doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.
The M4 has 5.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the 4C (15.8 vs. 10.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the BMW M4 higher (3 out of 10) than the Alfa Romeo 4C (1). This means the M4 produces up to 22.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the 4C every 15,000 miles.
A seven-speed automatic (SMG) is available on the BMW M4, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the 4C.
For better stopping power the M4’s brake rotors are larger than those on the 4C:
The M4 offers optional heat-treated ceramic brake rotors, which last ten to twenty times as long as conventional cast iron rotors, don’t rust, don’t fade during repeated high speed braking, and their lighter weight contribute to better braking, handling and acceleration. The 4C doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.
The M4 stops much shorter than the 4C:
60 to 0 MPH
For better traction, the M4 has larger standard tires than the 4C (F:255/40R18 & R:275/40R18 vs. F:205/45R17 & R:235/40R18). The M4’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 4C (F:265/30R20 & R:285/30R20 vs. F:205/45R17 & R:235/40R18).
The M4’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 4C’s standard 45 series front tires. The M4’s optional tires have a lower 30 series profile than the 4C’s optional 40 series front and 35 series rear tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the M4 has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch front wheels are standard on the 4C. The M4’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch front wheels and 19-inch rear wheels optional on the 4C.
The M4 has a standard driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The 4C’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
The M4 has standard power steering to make quick and controllable low speed maneuvers easy. The 4C doesn’t offer power steering.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the M4’s wheelbase is 17 inches longer than on the 4C (110.7 inches vs. 93.7 inches).
The M4’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (48.1% to 51.9%) than the 4C’s (41% to 59%). This gives the M4 more stable handling and braking.
The M4’s standard power retractable hardtop allows a seamless transition from an open car, to a completely sealed coupe. The 4C doesn’t offer a retractable hardtop.
The M4 has standard seating for 4 passengers; the 4C can only carry 2.
The M4 Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top down than the 4C Spider (7.8 vs. 3.7 cubic feet). The M4 Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top up than the 4C Spider (11 vs. 3.7 cubic feet).
With its coupe or convertible body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the M4 offers cargo security. The 4C’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just kicking your foot under the back bumper can open the M4’s trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The 4C doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The M4 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The 4C uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.
The engine in the M4 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the 4C. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.
When two different drivers share the M4, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The 4C doesn’t offer a memory system.
The M4 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The 4C doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The M4’s front power windows open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The 4C’s power windows’ switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.
The M4’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 4C’s available power window controls are spread out on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.
If the windows are left open on the M4 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the 4C can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
Comfort Access standard on the M4 allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Alfa Romeo 4C doesn’t offer an advanced key system.
The M4 has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The 4C doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.
The M4’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The 4C’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.
Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the M4 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The 4C doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.
In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The M4 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The 4C doesn’t offer headlight washers.
The M4 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The 4C doesn’t offer automatic headlights.
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the M4 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 4C doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the M4 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The 4C doesn’t offer cornering lights. The M4 also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.
The M4’s sun-visors swivel front-to-side to block glare from the side windows. The 4C’s visors are fixed into the windshield header.
The M4’s power mirror controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 4C’s power mirror controls are on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.
When the M4 is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The 4C’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.
The M4’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The 4C doesn’t offer the luxury of automatic dimming mirrors.
The M4 has standard heated front seats, which keep the driver and front passenger extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated seats aren’t available in the 4C.
On extremely cold winter days, the M4’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The 4C doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.
The M4’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The 4C doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.
The M4’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The 4C doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.
A built-in pollen filter removes pollen, exhaust fumes and other pollutants from the M4’s passenger compartment. This helps prevent lung and/or sinus irritation, which can trigger allergies or asthma. The 4C doesn’t offer a filtration system.
To help keep the driver’s hands on the wheel, the M4 has standard steering wheel controls for the radio. The 4C doesn’t offer steering wheel audio controls.
To direct the driver from any location to a given street address with audible turn-by-turn directions, a GPS navigation system is standard on the M4. The M4’s navigation system also has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service not available in all areas.) The 4C doesn’t offer a navigation system.
With standard voice command, the M4 offers the driver hands free control of the radio and the navigation computer by simply speaking. The 4C doesn’t offer a voice control system.
To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the BMW M4 offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The 4C doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.
The M4’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The 4C doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
The BMW M4 comes in coupe and convertible bodystyles; the Alfa Romeo 4C isn’t available as a coupe.
The M4 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the M4 will retain 54.18% to 57.02% of its original price after five years, while the 4C only retains 44.51%.
The 4 Series was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2014. The 4C has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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