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Lexus RC F vs BMW M4 Coupe: Which is the best four-seater sports car?

Lexus has just busted out its awesome new RC F coupe, a luxury Japanese rocket that takes aim squarely at the likes of the BMW M4 Coupe. But how does Lexus’ finest 4-seater sports car stack up against the German establishment? Let’s take look at some vital statistics.

Design

Looks are subjective, of course, but it’s fair to say both the Lexus RC F and BMW M4 Coupe are attractive cars. The Lexus is, on first impression, the most striking of the two thanks to that enormous spindle grille, which gives it the look of a shark that’s just about ready to rip anything in its path to shreds. Anyone who sees this coming in their rear view mirror is certain to move over.

It’s based loosely on the Lexus LF CC concept car, and although it has some similarities, it doesn’t hold a candle to its concept forefather.

The M4 Coupe will likely appeal to those who want a performance car that still manages to keep a relatively low profile. Those in the know will respect it, naturally. The subtle bonnet bulge, quad bonnet creases and angular vents provide a subtle menace that will have petrolheads nodding in approval. However to the untrained eye the M4 flies under the radar. Buyers who like a car that can play both sides of the fence will appreciate this duality.

Under the skin, the German marque shows its class further. The M4 Coupe tips the scales at a very respectable 1,572kg thanks in part to ample use of carbon fibre reinforced plastic, particuarly on the bonnet and roof. The Lexus RC F Carbon edition sports such trickery, too, but still clocks in at 1,765kg.

Winner: The BMW M4 wins this — it might not be as aggressive-looking, but that’s no bad thing. Plus it has a smarter, more lightweight design. 

Performance & Handling

Lexus and BMW employ very different propulsion philosophies for the RC F and M4 Coupe. The Lexus RC F takes an old-school approach with a huge 5-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine, which produces a very impressive 471bhp and 530Nm of torque. You’ll have to work the engine hard to achieve these lofty figures, though. Peak power happens from way up in the rev range — 7,100rpm to be exact — and peak torque between 4,800 and 5,600rpm.

For the M4, BMW has veered from the naturally-aspirated route, opting instead for downsizing and turbocharging. The M4 Coupe’s 3-litre, twin-turbocharged engine trails the RC F’s unit for power, producing ‘just’ 431bhp, but eclipses it for torque with 550Nm. What’s more, that power is accessible from lower in the rev range between 5,500rpm and 7,300rpm, and the torque lower still; between 1,850 and 5,500.

Any power deficit is virtually irrelevant due to the weight difference. The M4 Coupe does 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds – 0.2 seconds faster than the Lexus manages. The RC F has a higher top speed; 168mph vs the BMW’s electronically limited 155mph.

We’ll have to wait until we can drive both cars back to back before we judge definitively on performance and handling, but given the BMW’s superior power to weight ratio, we’d expect it to leave the Lexus for dead in a straight line and teach it a thing or two about agility and braking.

Winner: The BMW M4 Coupe has the edge almost everywhere.

Economy & Environment

This one’s a bit of a no-brainer. With its heavier body and larger, naturally aspirated engine, the Lexus RC F loses out to the BMW M4 where efficiency is concerned. The Lexus’s 26.2mpg isn’t too shabby for a car that uses a 5-litre V8, but that pales into comparison with the M4 Coupe’s 34mpg.

The BMW is also kinder to Mother Nature, with CO2 emissions of 194g/km. The Lexus is far dirtier with a CO2 rating of 250g/km.

Winner: The BMW M4 is cheaper to run and kinder to Mother Nature.

Practicality

Both the Lexus RC F and BMW M4 feature enough room for four occupants. The BMW has more space, however, so if you’re serious about driving vaguely long distances with more than one passenger than the Beemer’s the way to go. The German car also pips it for boot space, with 370 litres vs 366.

Winner: The BMW M4 Coupe is slightly more practical.

Pricing

The cheapest Lexus RC F is priced at 59,995 on the road, and includes full LED headlights with auto high beam, blind spot monitor, lane keep assist and rear cross traffic alert. You also get a Lexus premium Navigation system with CD/DVD playback and digital radio, plus front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.

If you want an RC F with the upgraded Mark Levinson audio system you’ll need to shell out £1,000 more. Those who want the RC F Carbon model, which gets a torque-vectoring differential, special alloys, alcantara upholstery, heated front seats, the aforementioned stereo and the carbon fibre reinforced plastic roof and bonnet, will have to fork out £67,995. 

The BMW M4 is priced from £56,650 on the road, so it’s cheaper than the RC F as standard. All cars include a DAB tuner, an 8.8-inch tablet-style colour display, Internet access, rain-sensing lights and wipers, heated front seats, BMW Professional Navigation, Xenon headlights and 19-inch M alloy wheels.

Winner: This round’s is a tie because while the M4 is cheaper and still generously equipped, you get slightly more for your money with the pricier Lexus.

Verdict

The Lexus puts up a valiant fight, but the BMW M4 seems to have all bases covered. We like the look of the Lexus, and its 5-litre naturally aspirated V8 sounds far better than the BMW’s twin-turbo 6-cylinder unit, but ultimately the lightweight BMW won’t have any problems outrunning it through bends or outgunning it along the straights. 

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