From time to time we come across interesting BMW related articles on the web and since we’re so into our bimmers, we have no choice but to share them with you. Now, the comparison below is something we have seen on here many times before and it is probably one of the most popular compact sports sedans standoff that there is out there.
BMW was probably ready for this. After all, it’s been building ripper rear-drive compacts going back to the early ’70s and the 2002tii, and no doubt wondering why others didn’t get in on the act. Along with Mercedes, they should have been ready, of course, for the likes of Lexus to branch out from super-silent, super-soft luxury stuff into the realms of hardcore performance. Ready for the snorting IS F to start trampling all over the world’s favourite German turf. Question is, can it?
The current compact kings of performance are the M3 and the C63 AMG, at least while Audi pauses a moment between the outgoing RS4 and the next. That gap has been filled neatly by the IS F because, make no mistake, this is far more than a warmed-over IS250. Four years in the making, fitted with a brawny 5.0-litre V8, big Brembo brakes and a version of the LS460’s eight-speed auto, the IS F comes across as pure, rear-drive muscle-car exhilaration. Significantly, it’s also the first car of this ilk to come out of Japan.
This impression is confirmed on the racetrack where the M3 easily overcame its power and torque inferiority to post quicker lap times than its more hairy-chested rivals. But it also continues to be a precision tool on the road. If the sedan has lost any torsional rigidity compared with the 20kg-lighter M3 coupe, you’ll never pick it. The combination of rapid-action steering, a tremendously grippy rear end, sensibly linear torque delivery and perfectly controlled body movement make it a joy to drive. The dual-clutch manual gearbox reacts quickly to manual shifts, or smoothly and intuitively if left in drive. If anything, the manual variant’s combination of sheer speed and refinement has only been enhanced by this very clever gearbox.
That’s not to say a good auto is left in the M3’s wake, as evidenced by the C63. The torque delivery of that monster V8 is dominating, and is the almost overwhelming aspect of the driving experience, but the seven-speed is never caught out. If you need to find a lower gear manually, it reacts relatively quickly; left to its own devices, it’ll do a better-than-average job. Throttle inputs need to be judicious if the ESP is switched off, but apart from progressive rear-end slip under power, there are no surprises here. The C63 reacts with all the big-engined brutality it can muster, although tempered by particularly pleasant steering and just a smidge of the understeer displayed on the circuit.