Driv­ing Quest

Australian Muscle Car - - News -

It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine the Bathurst 12 Hour get­ting any bet­ter. The 2017 event fea­tured a di­verse 50-car field which pro­vided an en­ter­tain­ing and drama-filled day’s racing that kept AMC – along with record tele­vi­sion and track­side au­di­ences – riv­eted to the ac­tion through­out.

Yet, things should only get bet­ter when Ja­panese mar­ques fi­nally join the field en masse. So far only Nis­san has taken on the Euro­pean man­u­fac­tur­ers in this new-age, once-round-the­clock Moun­tain clas­sic, its ef­forts re­warded with vic­tory in 2015. Other makes from the land of the ris­ing sun have been con­spic­u­ous by their ab­sence in FIA GT3 com­pe­ti­tion glob­ally. They are com­ing, though, with both Lexus and Honda (through its Acura brand) on the grid in the United States’ premier GT3 se­ries, de­but­ing in Jan­uary’s Day­tona 24 Hour.

Fin­gers crossed we will see both the Lexus RC F GT3 and Honda NSX GT3 at Bathurst in Fe­bru­ary 2018. Hope­fully lo­cal ex­ec­u­tives can build a busi­ness case that sees these cars lin­ing up on the pre-dawn grid. Lexus would have to be a bet­ter bet.

It’s not very of­ten your writer is ahead of the curve. But a Lexus RC F was our ride to Bathurst for this year’s 12 Hour – an ex­er­cise in sam­pling a V8-pow­ered coupe we’ve lusted over since its re­lease in 2015 at Mount Panorama.

Rear-wheel drive and a 5.0-litre V8 is cer­tainly a for­mula that has res­onated with Aus­tralian buy­ers over the years. That’s why Lexus has aimed the RC F at buy­ers of main­stream per­for­mance cars who as­pire to step­ping up to a lux­ury brand. It’s a big step up, with the RC F go­ing for $135,490. By way of com­par­i­son, the Lexus RC F is the most af­ford­able lux­ury per­for­mance coupe on the mar­ket, sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper than its trio of Ger­man ri­vals. Mean­while, its V6 sib­ling, the RC350, is al­most half the price.

The RC F’s max­i­mum power of 351kW comes at 7100rpm, while torque peaks at 4800rpm, which means it needs a healthy dose of revs to re­ally im­press and lacks the shove in the back of a typ­i­cal Aussie V8.

It sounds great, though, and 0-100km/h in 4.5 sec­onds is not to be sneezed at.

The RC F’s han­dling, as you’d ex­pect from a low-slung coupe, is a sharp thanks to the su­per rigid chas­sis. Flick­ing the switch to Sport+ stiff­ens the sus­pen­sion, although it’s only some­thing we’d use on a track day.

Tip­ping the scales at 1860kg, the RC F feels more like a grand tourer than out-and-out sports car, but it is well equipped, lux­u­ri­ous and fun to drive. It’s looks have proven to be po­lar­is­ing, although, per­son­ally, I hap­pen to dig them.

There was (just) enough room for my 11-yearold boy to sit in the back, while his 14-year-old brother was over­joyed he was too tall for a stint in the back­seat. All three West boys (my­self in­cluded) were su­per ex­cited this was our ride for a week­end pil­grim­age to Bathurst.

Over­all, the RC F is an im­pres­sive ve­hi­cle and a wor­thy racing flag­ship for the Lexus brand.

Snar­ing lovers of top-end, home­grown mus­cle cars might be a dif­fi­cult ‘get’ for Lexus. But just as the 12 Hour is at­tract­ing a new breed of Aussie race fans, there are op­por­tu­ni­ties to be had in new mar­ket niches as the au­to­mo­tive land­scape changes here.

If the GT3 ver­sion hits that mag­i­cal 6.2km rib­bon of road west of the Great Di­vid­ing Range then we can see the RC F’s cred­i­bil­ity go­ing to a whole new level. In our eyes there are mod­els that are raced and lesser ones that are not.

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