Lexus RC F a track day contender
The Lexus RC F Carbon is semirace machine aimed at serious drivers who enjoy pushing themselves to their limits during track days.
Interestingly, the Lexus is powered by a naturally aspirated engine, a 5.0-litre V8.
The German machines in this high-performance category are rapidly moving in the direction of turbocharged engines.
The Lexus RS F coupe comes at a relatively modest price — $133,110 for the standard version and $147,110 for the RC F Carbon we reviewed.
The Carbon has a carbon-fibre active rear wing, bonnet, roof panel and interior trim as well as alcantara seat fabric.
The Lexus RC range is designed from the ground up as a two-door sports coupe, and Lexus goes to great lengths to point out this is not a sedan with a different back end.
The F differs from the others in the Lexus RC range by being wider, thanks to pumped guards front and rear; having a lower ride height, courtesy of an uprated sports suspension; and it is longer because of the big frontal splitter and aero revisions to the tail.
This Japanese sports coupe certainly looks the part, even more so when used as the safety car for this year’s V8 Supercar season.
Lexus has taken the fashion for big radiator grilles to new extremes.
We find the front a little overpowering in the standard RC range, but it works well in the RC F.
Inside there are high-quality materials, which even have some cues from the Lexus LFA supercar.
The electronic instruments are housed in a sporting binnacle and show different displays depending on the driver’s needs at the time.
The tacho takes precedence in the centre of the binnacle and changes colour according to the driving mode selected — Eco, Normal, Sport or Sport Plus.
The big Lexus 5.0-litre V8 puts out 470 horsepower at 7100 revs (that’s 351kW in metric numbers). Its top torque is 4800 to a high 5600 rpm.
Those high revs indicate the disadvantage of non-turbo engines — they simple can’t be programmed to get bulk grunt at low revs in the manner of a turbo unit.
Transmission is from a sports tuned eight-speed unit that can be operated by paddle shifters.
Naturally, drive is to the rear wheels, in this case by a torque vectoring differential to give maximum road grip.
Lexus has long favoured Mark Levinson audio.
The RC F uses a 835W, 17-speaker system.
It incorporates special technology to work with compressed sound sources such as MP3 for better playback quality.
There is DAB radio, Bluetooth with audio streaming and automatic phonebook transfer, iPod with voice control and USB connectivity.
Lexus RC F uses pre-collision safety systems, including. precollision brake assist.
It has eight SRS airbags: a dual-stage driver’s airbag; dualstage and dual-chamber front passenger airbag; driver and front passenger’s knee airbags; large front-seat side airbags; and full-length side curtain airbags.
Lexus has produced a stunning V8 engine, one that comes with a Jekyll and Hyde personality.
It is quiet and peaceful when pottering around town at low speeds and light throttle openings — very Lexus you might say. Slam open the throttle hard to get the revs into the upper regions and it becomes a loud, aggressive beast.
A semi-race car, in fact, hence the decision to launch the RC F at the Mount Panorama track behind Bathurst.
It will be interesting to see how many owners take advantage of their car’s personality and give it a real workout during track days.
The zero to 100km/h time of 4.5 seconds is good without being great.
Brembo brakes, with ventilated discs at all four wheels, help keep all that power under control.
The RC F is relatively heavy for this class, possibly to add the sound deadening that is a feature of all Lexus cars.
Maybe it could have been trimmed for this model, though in all honesty many buyers will demand luxury just as much as performance.
The front seats bolsters provide the sort of good side support that is needed in a sports machine. Comfort is good, but there is no doubt it leans in the direction of sports in the comfort versus sports equation. Exactly the way it should be, in our opinion, but try it for yourself on your private test drive.
Keen to get away from its public image of designing only smooth, ultra-quiet cars, Lexus has embarked on a program of developing high-performance coupes and supercars.
The latter, the ultra-expensive Lexus LFA, is out of reach for the great majority of us, but Lexus RC is an excellent stepping stone until the lottery winnings arrive.
Low, wide and purposeful, the all-new Lexus RC F works beautifully.
The F differs from the others in the Lexus RC range by being wider.
The Lexus RC F’s 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine.