Feature

BMW M4 vs Lexus RC-F

Lexus has made a muscle car to take on the mighty BMW M4. Is sheer brawn going to be enough, though?

Words ByWhat Car? team

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BMW M4 vs Lexus RCF

The Contenders

BMW M4 DCT

List price Β£59,560

Target Price Β£53,729

Range-topping 4 Series offers huge performance, a long kit list and a suitably premium image.


Lexus RC-F

List price Β£60,495

Target Price Β£58,828

A big V8 engine, but a big kerb weight with it. Can the bulky RC-F keep pace with the M4?


On the face of it, the BMW M4 and Lexus RC-F have quite a lot in common. Both are two-door sports cars, both have more than 400bhp, both are rear-wheel drive and both cost close to Β£60k. However, there are also big differences.

The most obvious is weight. The bulky Lexus carries around an extra 200kg over the BMW, which for a sports car can only be a bad thing. Another difference is power. The V8 Lexus has more of it, but unlike the BMW it has no turbochargers, so it' completely different in character.

A large chunk of our verdict will focus on performance and how well these cars handle. We already know the M4 has the ability to worry some supercars, but is the RC-F worthy of the same praise?


What are they like to drive?

The Lexus RC-F’s engine is brutally strong, but with no turbo to rely on it needs to be revved beyond 5000rpm before it really starts to perform. That’s no hardship, mind, because it remains smooth and it’s a treat to the ears.

The BMW M4’s power delivery is markedly different, because its turbochargers mean maximum torque arrives at just 1900rpm. So, it’s no surprise that the M4 feels the more eager car in most situations.

Put your foot down hard and the M4 can accelerate with a ferocity that the RC-F simply can’t match. However, we tested these cars on a soaking wet day and the BMW struggled to put its power down off the line. This explains why our 0-60mph time (4.7sec) is a long way off what we got for what is essentially a four-door version of the M4, the M3: 4.0sec.

Another area in which the M4 shows up the RC-F is with its gearbox. The BMW’s seven-speed dual-clutch automatic 'box provides quick, smooth changes, is intelligent when left to its own devices and responsive when you take charge using the wheel-mounted paddles. The Lexus’s eight-speed ’box is perfectly smooth when cruising, but ask anything more from it and it starts to feel slow and dim-witted, even when you use the paddles.

On a twisty B-road the M4 is the more competent car. Its body moves around less than the RC-F’s, its front wheels grip harder when turning into bends and its steering gives a much greater sense of connection with the front wheels. In fact, the M4 is so capable it’s hard to find the car’s limits on most UK roads.

That’s not to say the RC-F embarrasses itself. In many ways it’s a good car, but it's let down by its numb controls. There’s lots of grip to exploit in fast bends and there’s fun to be had keeping the revs high and using the throttle to help you steer around them, but the Lexus never feels especially agile and its steering is a disappointment.

The RC-F claws back some ground when it comes to ride quality – it damps large bumps well, even if there’s a bit of body flex over broken surfaces. The stiffer M4 doesn’t suffer from this at all, but its altogether firmer suspension doesn’t take the sting out of most bumps quite as well, even if you switch
the adaptive suspension to its most comfortable setting.

Motorway journeys are a more comfortable experience in the Lexus, too. There’s less road and wind noise than in the M4, and the RC-F’s exhaust isn’t as boomy at a steady cruise.

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