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Supreme Saloons: BMW's 5 Series or Lexus GS?

In the prestige saloon market, the BMW 5 Series has long ruled supreme as the must-have model; combining luxury, cutting-edge technology and a truly engaging driving experience. Although a more exclusive sight on the road, the third generation GS Saloon from Lexus makes a strong case for itself. How do these quite different saloons compare?

Aesthetically

The latest iteration of BMW’s iconic 5 Series sees it grow fractionally compared to its predecessor, while its design has evolved subtly, the twin circular headlight units now extending all the way to the evocative kidney grille. At the side, the contours flow slightly more dynamically, emphasising the saloon’s sporty nature along with more soul-stirring bumpers and mouldings. The wraparound rear light clusters now flow further down the car’s flanks, and every version has symmetrically positioned exhaust pipes.

Meanwhile, the Japanese rival boasts a large, unique and eye-catching spindle grille that sets it apart on the road. Its distinctive L-shape daytime running lights and sleek headlights also bestow it with added confidence, while the rear exudes maturity and features some equally alluring light signatures. The Lexus GS is a more exclusive car guaranteed to prove a topic of conversation wherever it’s driven.

Cockpits compared

Driver engagement remains a key ethos for BMW’s latest 5 Series saloon, with even the standard seats providing impressive amounts of comfort and grip for more spirited driving. Leg and headroom have increased compared to the outgoing model, while the iDrive infotainment system has been further refined to become more intuitive than ever. In many ways, the new 5 Series’ cabin resembles its larger 7 Series brother, which is a huge compliment. Various seat, sound system and connected technology upgrades are available, as is the Ambient Air package. The car provides abundant space for three adults in the rear, and BMW’s Connected Drive services open up a wealth of business opportunities. A fantastically modern saloon, the optional Display Key provides the driver with useful information, and Remote Control Parking is even available.

Meanwhile, the Lexus GS’ cabin may look somewhat more linear in its implementation, but the large dials, clear displays and use of expansive trim inlays is refreshingly different from the German establishment. Its cockpit oozes fine Japanese craftsmanship and although it isn’t as drive-focussed as the 5 Series, the cockpit is supremely comfortable and serenely hushed. Infotainment is taken care of by a 12.3-inch display and Lexus’ Remote Touch Interface, which may take some drivers a bit more getting used to than BMW’s now much simpler iDrive system. Depending on the trim chosen, the GS can be specified with a head-up display, sophisticated S-Flow air conditioning with nanoe technology, and the sensational Mark Levinson Premium Audio System, to cite just a few options. When it comes to practicality, the Lexus’ 450-litre boot compares with an impressive 530 litres on offer from the BMW 5 Series.

Engines compared

BMW has traditionally ensured that a wide range of engine options are offered for each of its models; and the new 5 Series follows suit.

  • Increasing numbers of private and fleet drivers are switching back to petrol and the 4-cylinder 520i is an excellent 184bhp powerplant with fuel economy of up to 52.3mpg, along with a 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds.
  • In the middle of the petrol range sits the smooth 530i which promises barely much difference at the pump with 51.4mpg, while its 252bhp offers more in the way of performance.
  • The potent 540i at the top of the 5 Series’ non-M petrol tree delivers a punch with 340bhp and slashes the 0-62mph sprint time down to 4.8 seconds, underpinned by BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system.
  • The 5 Series has long been synonymous with efficient diesel engines and the 520d SE EfficientDynamics variant is simply remarkable with figures of 72.4mpg and 104g/km CO2 while still delivering an impressive 190bhp.

Lexus, meanwhile, has stuck to its forte when it comes to the GS. With over a decade of experience in developing and refining smooth, powerful and efficient hybrid powertrains, the Japanese luxury car brand makes a compelling case for green-minded drivers and offers the GS saloon with a brace of full hybrid engines.

  • First up is the GS 300h, which sees a 2.5-litre petrol engine mated with a battery and electric motor to produce 223bhp and offer a 0-62mph time of 9.2 seconds while emitting as little as 104g/km CO2. On paper these figures compare very favourably with some of the latest Euro 6 diesel engines in similar vehicles.
  • The more powerful GS 450h incorporates a 3.5-litre V6 which sees performance boosted to 345bhp and 5.9 seconds, CO2 emissions accordingly increasing to 145g/km and potential fuel consumption peaking at 45.6mph.

In numbers…

 

BMW 5 Series

Lexus GS

Min

Max

Min

Max

Power (HP)

184

340

223

345

Fuel (comb MPG)

37.7

141.2

45.6

64.2

Emissions (CO2, g/km)

46

172

104

145

Top Speed (mph)

146

155

119

156

0 – 60mph in…. (seconds)

4.8

7.8

5.9

9.2

Price

£35,835

£51,070

£36,125

£53,050

BMW's 5 Series has regularly topped prestige saloon popularity charts and it’s clear to see why, combining luxury and cutting-edge technology with class-leading handling and impressive engines. Lexus's GS should certainly be taken for a test drive by anyone seeking a supreme saloon, its highly advanced full hybrid powertrains making a formidable case at a time when the focus is very much on alternative fuels and cleaner air. Your nearest Cooper BMW and Inchcape Lexus dealerships will be delighted to help you choose.