Price and Equipment - Winner: Lexus LS500
BMW 740i: 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
Lexus LS500: 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
Interior and Connectivity - Winner: Lexus LS500
BMW 740i: 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
Lexus LS500: 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
Ride and Handling - Winner: BMW 740i
BMW 740i: 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
Lexus LS500: 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
Performance and Economy - Winner: BMW 740i
BMW 740i: 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
Lexus LS500: ... 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
Warranty and Servicing - Winner: BMW 740i
BMW 740i: 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: 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
Overall, the BMW 740i manages to hold off Lexus' challenger to remain the superior limo.
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