BMW’s M4 supercar slayer has traditionally set the benchmark for junior executive-based high-performance coupes. Rival manufacturers have now risen to the challenge, with the Lexus RC-F taking the naturally aspirated V8 approach. A monster engine isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of a mega-saloon however, especially when said car weighs 200kg more than its German rival. We pitch the two models head-to-head.
As standard off the showroom floor, the BMW is cheaper than the Lexus – by up to £5000 if you haggle hard. The two rivals compare like-for-like with standard kit as well; sat-nav, climate control, leather trim, xenon headlamps, Bluetooth, DAB, electric seats and all-round park assist are fitted on both models.
Their cabins reflect their price tags with a suitably premium feel, although the M4’s has the edge. Also, while there’s plenty of space in the front of both cars, again rear passengers fare slightly better in the BMW. Luggage, too, thanks to the larger boot and back seats that fold almost flat. Even tall drivers can get comfortable, and they benefit from the top-notch iDrive media set-up.
A 400-500bhp rear-wheel-drive car guarantees you’re going to have fun behind the wheel. The issue here is, just how much…? Top marks for supercar-baiting eagerness go to the BMW’s 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol and slick, precise seven-speed auto. It develops its maximum torque from a mere 1,900rpm, so it simply pulls and pulls. The Lexus’ 5.0-litre V8 likes to be revved, which makes for great involvement, but the eight-ratio box can be surprisingly hesitant. As a result, it doesn’t come close to matching the M4’s when being pushed hard.
Keep the V8’s revs high to make the most of the RC-F’s chassis, which provides plenty of grip and adjustability on the throttle. Body control and balance are less agile than the BMW’s, though, and the steering lacks feel. In this instance, it doesn’t seem a big enough challenge for the M4, which stormed ahead on the same test roads and in our hands didn’t come anywhere close to reaching its dynamic limits. The German car’s steering is superb throughout, too.
Don’t get us wrong; the RC-F is still a mighty impressive machine – and it’s arguably better suited than the BMW to day-to-day driving on British roads. It rides in that sublimely, uniquely Lexus way and is far more refined at a fast cruise – and if that’s what you’re looking for, it won’t disappoint.
This is a sports car test, though. And for performance and dynamics, the M-car wins hands down. Backed up by cheaper showroom pricing, better residuals, superior efficiency and lower insurance costs, it appeals to the head as much as the heart.
BMW M4 DCT – 4 stars
Engine 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol
List price £59,560
Target Price £53,729
Torque 406lb ft
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Gov't fuel economy 34.0mpg
CO2 emissions 194g/km
Lexus RC-F – 3 stars
Engine 5.0-litre petrol
List price £60,495
Target Price £58,828
Torque 391lb ft
Top speed 168mph
Fuel economy 26.2mpg
CO2 emissions 252g/km