BBC Autos

BMW M4 v Lexus RC F: Fight!

  • Beautiful brutes

    The Lexus RC F is here, and it wants to kick BMW's M4 in its, um, rear diff. Repeatedly.

    Of course, Lexus wouldn't say anything as explicit as that, noting to Top Gear's Paul Horrell that they didn't benchmark any particular measurables of the opposition, but instead worked hard to "build a Lexus".

    But the RC F and M4 are pretty much the same size. They produce near enough the same power. They're both rear-wheel-drive and both two-door versions of their saloon siblings. In fact, said saloon siblings went at each other fists flying in their last iterations, and these young bucks look like they're ready to re-engage hostilities.

    "We believe this car will be the most fun to drive," Lexus boss Mark Templin told Top Gear. Gauntlet, consider yourself thrown. And as such, we figured you might appreciate a little mano-a-mano comparison to see how both the new Lexus RC F and BMW M4 stack up against each other. (All photography: BMW Group; Toyota Motor Sales)

  • Engine

    Both the new BMW M3 and M4 (that's the M3 Coupe, don't forget) will use a turbocharged engine producing 431bhp and a whopping great 406lb-ft of torque, making it easily the most powerful production M3 in history. But that comes at the expense of two cylinders, as this new M4 (we're going to stop calling it the M3 Coupe now, so just remember M4) uses a turbocharged 3-litre straight-six in place of the old N/A V8. BMW is rather adept at making really, really good straight-six engines, and this one promises fireworks.

  • Engine

    The Lexus however, has taken a more old-school approach, and one we whole-heartedly approve of here at Top Gear. It has decided to fit a stonking great 5-litre V8 under the bonnet of the new RC-F (though it does go into Atkinson-cycle mode, like a Prius, under light cruising); it's related to the old V8 that sat in the last IS F, and should thus be an absolute screamer. We're promised over 450bhp and a not inconsiderable 383lb-ft of torque. The Bee-Em edges it on torque, but this comfortably produces more horsepower.

  • Transmission

    Praise be! The BMW M4 is offered as standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, with the seven-speed double clutch transmission as an option, both powering the rear wheels via an active M differential (electronically controlled, multi-plate LSD). Though it's an option you might want to consider, because contained within the software is a mode BMW officially calls (and we're not making this up) the "Smokey Burnout" function. The M4 is therefore officially a hooligan.

  • Transmission

    Lexus meanwhile made an interesting deduction about the transmission on offer for the new RC F. There'll be an eight-speed auto gearbox with a new e-diff powering the rear wheels, and rear wheels only - there won't ever be a 4WD RC F. When we asked Lexus boss Mark Templin for a manual to complement the old-school feel generated by that bloody big V8, he replied: "Everybody wants to talk about a manual, but no-one wants to buy one".

  • Performance

    The M4 is roughly 80kg lighter than its predecessor, clocking in at 1,500kg, and with more power, comes more fastness: 0-62mph takes just 4.3 seconds with the manual, and 4.1s with the DCT ‘box. It'll also run on to a limited top speed of 155mph.

  • Performance

    The Lexus RC F promises 0-62mph in under 4.5 seconds, though it's much heavier than the M4, weighing in at 1,800kg.

  • Aero

    Air curtains on the front bumper and breathers in the front arches massage the air around the front of the BMW M4. There's also a smooth underbody, a rather natty CSL-style carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) rear-end and CFRP roof.

  • Aero

    The RC F manages with a bonnet vent that cuts front-end lift, as well as a smooth underbody, aero stabilising fins, a lifting rear spoiler and many cooling inlets.

  • Verdict?

    So, which one gets your vote? The turbocharged six-pot BMW M4, or the V8-powered, free-breathing Lexus RC F?

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