Over the years we’ve gotten together with our friends at Cars.com for a wide variety of comparison tests, from compact crossovers to family sedans. But, what about a deep dive into a market niche with a little more…no… let’s make that a lot more zing. Say…performance coupes! Now that really sounds like fun!

JOHN DAVIS: Yes, this time around we’re going head to head with three high performance sports coupes. And of course, a 2015 BMW M4 is included as the “perceived” benchmark in this very exclusive 2-door class.

Against the Bimmer is pair of upstart challengers: the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe…and the 2015 Lexus RC-F. 

Our venue is Chicago, Cars.com’s home base, and fittingly, there are no price caps or fuel mileage requirements this go around; it’s a true run what you brung showdown. Still, we’ve asked a local hot shoe consumer to join us, to help us pick a winner.

Now, let’s get down to it.

The BMW M4’s twin turbo inline-6 produces 425–horsepower and 406 lb-ft. of torque, and there’s a 7–speed M-DCT for transmission duties.

Suspension consists of a double-joint spring strut front and 5-link rear, as well as help from an adaptive M suspension. Wheels are black 19s, with M Carbon Ceramic brakes nestled behind; curb weight is 3,585-lbs.  

It stickers for $86,200

The newest coupe to join this group, the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V, also features twin turbo-6 power but in the form of a V, with 464-horsepower and 445 lb-ft. of torque. Its 6-speed manual transmission is the only one here.

Suspension is MacPherson strut front, 5-link rear, but here with the aid of Magnetic Ride Control. Wheels are polished 18s, brakes are by Brembo, and curb weight is 3,700-lbs.

Pricing comes in over 10-grand less than the BMW at $74,450. 

This 2015 Lexus RC-F has a different take in the engine compartment, as it takes power from a great sounding V8 with 467-horsepower and 389 lb-ft. of torque, passing it through an 8-speed true automatic transmission. 

Front suspension is double-wishbone design, with multi-link in the rear. 19-inch wheels also hide Brembo brakes, but they’ve got their work cut out for them as weight is the heaviest of the lot at 3,958-lbs. 

Price here, just barely over the Cadillacs at $75,210

3 different ways of making power, but the RC-F’s V8 wins the horsepower battle. Though if torque is more your thing, the ATS-V’s turbos spin up much more of it than the RC-F.

BRIAN ROBINSON: “Being a red-blooded, possibly red-necked American, I really wanted to root for the RC-F’s V8 engine, but it’s not super-torquey, unlike the turbo engines, you really have to get the revs up there.”

JOHN DAVIS: First order of business, spend some time on the street to get to know these cars and get everything broken in.

All performed admirably, but not surprisingly it’s the Cadillac ATS-V that delivered the best overall day-to-day ride quality. 

JOE WIESENFELDER:  “…what I think it does best is have a dual personality; it is the most comfortable car on the street for sure, but when you get it out on the track it really avails itself well.”

JOHN DAVIS: Having progressed through the “get to know you phase”, it’s off to Byron Dragway in Byron, Illinois for some ¼-mile madness.

Our best times in the RC-F were 4.88–seconds to 60 and 13.12 for the ¼-mile at 109.11 miles-per-hour. 

The Cadillac ATS-V sprinted to 60 in 4.32–seconds and finished out the quarter in 12.41 at 115.62. 

But, the fastest of the bunch was the M4; 3.97–seconds to 60 and 12.05 for the ¼-mile at a speedy 118.35 miles-per-hour. 

JOE BRUZEK: “This car was the rocket ship of the bunch; it was literally the fastest by almost 4/10ths of a second, and you feel that at the track, too.”

JOHN DAVIS: And finally it’s off to the North course at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois to test what these cars are truly made of.  And here things continued to become clearer…

  …as the M4 quickly showed us why BMW is the heir apparent. 

The ATS-V, even though it’s packed on some weight, still has a great nimble feel, as well as some serious power to move it. 

The RC-F impresses with its very aggressive feel and V8 sound.

But at the end of the day it was the M4 leading the way. 

JOE BRUZEK: “The M4 is clearly the most dedicated of the bunch here; it has the best brakes, suspension’s tighter, the steering’s tighter, it just overall communicates what’s going on much better than the other cars.”

JOHN DAVIS: So, time to put it all together and rank our contestants.

3rd place goes to the Lexus RC-F. As an all-new high performance coupe it’s a terrific first effort from Lexus. It sounds great, the interior is wonderful, but it lost with its harsh ride quality, and a V8 that sounds great, but doesn’t fully deliver the goods.   

MIKE HANLEY: “Of the cars in our test, the RC-F felt the least track focused; it was harder to drive, it wasn’t as quick out of the corners despite having the largest displacement engine and the only V8 in this test.”

JOHN DAVIS: 2nd place goes to the Cadillac ATS-V. It excels at things you expect Cadillacs to excel at; like great ride quality, comfortable seats, and a respectable amount of luxury. But, unleashed on the track it impressed us even more. 

MIKE HANLEY: “I was really impressed with the ATS-V’s handling and steering feel, it really stood apart from the others… …you really were able to tell how close you were to the limit, for me, more than the other cars.”

JOHN DAVIS: That leaves the BMW as the winner and still champion.  Sure, the car has changed a lot from its M3 days, but when it comes a total package of performance and every day livability, it’s easily, still setting the pace. 

TIM MAY: “The power in the M4 is more than enough. You can hear the 2 turbos spool up and you can feel the car accelerate; it plants you in your seat …for the drive that I did, it was unbelievable.”

BRIAN ROBINSON: “The M4 continues to be the benchmark in this class for a reason; it goes like stink on the track, and has just enough of a comfortable ride to make you never want to get out of it.”    

JOHN DAVIS: So, it looks like money can buy happiness, as even with a 10-grand handicap, or maybe because of it, the BMW M4 is the top of our all-out performance coupe wish list.


  • 2015 BMW M4:
  • 2016 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe:
  • 2015 Lexus RC-F: