Head-to-head

BMW 740i vs Lexus LS500

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents -

BMW 740i En­gine 2988cc 6cyl, dohc, 24v, turbo | Power 240kw @ 6500rpm Torque 450Nm @ 1380-5000rpm | Econ­omy 7.0L/100km | Price $229,900

BMW fits its ex­ec­u­tive suite with heated/cooled mem­ory front seats (driver’s with a mas­sage func­tion), sur­round-view cam­eras, a tablet to con­trol the rear pas­sen­ger pews, and rear sun blinds. An M Sport pack­age with stag­gered 20-inch al­loys re­plac­ing 19s, An­thracite head­lin­ing, aero tweaks and the geri­atric wood steer­ing wheel swapped for leather wrap is a no-cost, no-brainer op­tion. 17/20

A strong Teu­tonic in­flu­ence, man­i­fest in styling that’s on the con­ser­va­tive side, makes the 740i feel more Mu­nich ho­tel than Ky­oto on­sen. Tra­di­tional sedan pro­file (with part-car­bon­fi­bre con­struc­tion) makes the BMW feel more spa­cious in the rear and yields a larger 515L boot. Like the Lexus, the cabin fea­tures ac­tive noise cancelling tech. Wire­less smart­phone mir­ror­ing ($623) is a big tick. 16/20

Both th­ese cars ride on self-lev­el­ling air sus­pen­sion to great ef­fect. In com­fort mode the 740i is syrupy and cos­set­ing. Call up sport mode and it be­comes con­sid­er­ably more alert, the run-flat Bridge­stone Poten­zas send­ing an oc­ca­sional shud­der through the chas­sis over rougher bits of road. Quick, talk­a­tive steer­ing makes it feel like a smaller car on wind­ing tar­mac. It’s still the driver’s choice. 18/20

It may lack the head­line num­bers, but the way the 740i’s in-line six builds pace via its eight-speed auto is more lin­ear and pol­ished – and it sounds much bet­ter, too. Punt it along and the fuel use will head for the high nines, but range is su­pe­rior de­spite the smaller 78L tank. The BMW straight-six makes the Lexus V6 seem like it was built to meet a bench­mark, not set a new stan­dard. 17/20

BMW bun­dles the 740i with three years of war­ranty and as many kays as you can cover in that time­frame. The Ger­man lux­ury brand won’t ask you to dip a hand in your pocket for the first three years of ser­vic­ing, and throws in three years of road­side as­sis­tance. ‘Con­di­tion-based ser­vic­ing’ means the car de­cides when an oil change is due or sched­uled main­te­nance is needed. 17/20

LEXUS LS500 En­gine 3444cc V6, dohc, 24v, twin-turbo | Power 310kw @ 6000rpm Torque 600Nm @ 1600-4800rpm | Econ­omy 9.5L/100km | Price $195,500

It’s al­most as though Lexus made notes on the BMW’S ap­point­ments, ticked them off one-by-one, and then cut the price. There are small dif­fer­ences, though; the rear doors lack sun­blinds but the LS gets pad­dle shifters and more cam­eras ring the Lexus’s ex­te­rior. You also reap the per­for­mance ben­e­fit de­liv­ered by a larger en­gine with a pair of tur­bocharg­ers. 18/20

The in­te­rior you want to sit in; drip­ping with de­signer el­e­ments and sport­ing Lexus LC links, pleas­ing on the eye and supremely comfy with su­per-soft per­fo­rated leather. Coupe-like styling robs some head­room and con­trib­utes to a smaller 440L boot, but deeper, plusher car­pet adds to the posh­ness. Awk­ward hap­tic fin­ger pad and poor smart­phone sup­port are bug­bears. 18/20

The LS500 car­ries significantly more kerb weight than the BMW (2235kg vs 1725kg) and nowhere is that more ap­par­ent than on a twisty road, where the all-wheel-steer Lexus will heave and lum­ber on its sus­pen­sion while chang­ing di­rec­tion. In sport mode, the steer­ing adds weight but lit­tle mean­ing­ful feed­back. Grip from the run-flat Bridge­stone Tu­ran­zas is con­fi­dent, but ... 16/20

... mash the throt­tle and af­ter a slight pause to pick one of 10 gears, the gutsy V6 re­leases a rush of torque that will have the sta­bil­ity con­trol light flash­ing madly. Throt­tle map­ping is well-judged in de­fault mode, but the Sports and Sports Plus set­tings add an un­wel­come hy­per­sen­si­tiv­ity. And the 82L fuel tank will drain with alarm­ing speed as real-world fuel use tips into the high teens. 15/20

The stan­dard Lexus war­ranty runs to four years and is capped at 100,000 kilo­me­tres, but there’s a whole decade of road­side as­sis­tance sweet­en­ing the deal. Make some space on your calendar, though, as you – or the Lexus em­ployee sent to re­trieve your LS500 – will have to nose that mas­sive spin­dle grille into a ser­vice cen­tre ev­ery 10,000km or six months, whichever comes first. 15/20

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