The sports saloon segment in the international market has been completely dominated by BMW over the past several decades. Despite the arrival of various other car makers to this segment, BMW’s M3 remains the benchmark to this day. The years of assimilation and the legacy of previous generations has allowed the BMW M3 to stay well above the competition.
However, Lexus hopes to stir the pot with its all new LC 500 luxury sports coupe. Up until recently, the M3 coupe (now known as the M4) battled it out with its other German rivals: the Mercedes AMG C63 and Audi’s RS5. With the LC 500, Lexus seeks to break into a market populated by car makers that have had years to nurture their products. So how well does the new Lexus fair against Bimmer’s M4? We find out.
Lexus LC 500 Coupe
Leuxs’ LC 500 may be one of the most striking cars in the segment. While Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW adopt a more subtle approach to design, Lexus has taken a different route. The LC 500’s dramatic design philosophy is reminiscent of Japanese sports cars of yesteryear. Similar to the RC-F launched earlier, the LC-500 too dons the family spindle grille. Unlike most sports cars, the LC 500 features sharp, small headlights accentuated by LED DRLs that generate an aesthetic commonly associated with exotic Italian supercars (read Lamborghini). The theatrical persona of the LC 500 is further increased with the addition of a wide body stance, large air vents on either side and heavily sculpted bodywork.
Unlike previous generations, BMW has made significant changes to the coupe variant of the M3. As a result, the M4 features a more aggressive body kit with zany color options. The front end sports a pair of large air vents, chrome grille and a heavily sculpted bonnet. Other notable aspects of the M4’s exterior are the dual pair of exhausts located on either side of the car and the reworked lower bumper. While the aggressive design philosophy may have its fans, one of the major highlights of the previous generations was the subtle approach to the bodywork taken by BMW.
Winner: Lexus LC 500 Coupe
Lexus LC500 Coupe
Unlike conventional sports cars that generate an aura of sportiness within, the LC 500 Coupe bathes its occupants in luxurious excess. Every inch of the Japanese sports car’s cabin is bathed in premium leather, suede and aluminium. The cabin also features a distinct divide between the cockpit and the passenger side further laying emphasis of the LC 500’s stance as a driver’s car. Similar to the Lexus LFA, the LC 500 comes with an all digital instrument cluster that features a large central tachometer with auxiliary data displayed on either side. One of the most defining traits of the Lexus LC 500’s interior is the glass bed that encases the infotainment system’s display and analogue clock. While the infotainment system’s display is centrally mounted for easy viewing, the central divide does not allow the passenger complete control of the car’s various features.
Unlike its Japanese rival, the M4’s cabin sports a slick, all black sporty theme replete with carbon fibre across the dashboard, center console and doors. The driver is greeted by a three spoke leather wrapped steering wheel and an all analogue instrument cluster. Similar to most current generation Bimmers, the M4 also features the familiar iDrive infotainment system.
Under the Bonnet
Lexus LC500 Coupe
The Lexus LC 500 may be one of the few cars still making use of naturally aspirated engines. The front mounted 5.0 l V8 produces 467 hp and a peak torque of 389 lb-ft. Power is sent to the rear wheels via an all new 10 speed automatic gearbox.
Powering the M4 is a twin turbocharged inline six cylinder engine that produces 425 hp @ 7300 RPM and an impressive 406 lb-ft of torque at 1850 RPM. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven speed dual clutch automatic gearbox.
Unlike most cars in this segment, Lexus has opted to give equal focus to both luxury and performance with its LC 500. As a result, the LC 500 may not be able to go head to head with its competitors. However, few can argue that this compromise is a deal breaker. The LC 500 features one of the most beautiful cabins ever fitted into a car let alone a sports car. While enthusiasts will remain loyal to the BMW M4, Lexus will definitely make its mark with the LC 500.