THRASH­ING THE LEXUS RC-F

ZETEC-POW­ERED MKII ES­CORT

NZ Performance Car - - Front Page -

The ar­rival of a new Lexus isn’t some­thing we’d nor­mally be hyped about here in the NZPC of­fice. A brand which prides it­self on build­ing el­e­gant cruisers with spec­tac­u­lar build qual­ity wouldn’t nor­mally ex­cite us, con­sid­er­ing we get handed the keys to the lat­est and great­est turbo mon­sters from other Ja­panese ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers. How­ever, when we heard that Lexus had for us a 348kW (467hp) nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated 5000cc V8 coupe in bright or­ange, how could we say no?

On ar­rival at the Lexus deal­er­ship, we im­me­di­ately spot­ted the bright or­ange (ac­tu­ally called Molten Pearl) Lexus RC-F which was neatly tucked away in the cor­ner and af­ter a few hand­shakes, in-car demos and cof­fee, we were handed the keys. The ini­tial climb into its in­te­rior was quite an over­whelm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. We were greeted with more but­tons, di­als, and giz­mos than we’d ever seen, but what did they all do? The key to it all was found at the front of the cen­tre con­sole, where there is one dial to con­trol all di­als. We dubbed it ‘the mode se­lec­tor’, which, to be fair, it ac­tu­ally is. Af­ter startup, the Lexus is typ­i­cally thrown straight into ‘nor­mal’ mode. How­ever, if you turn the dial to the left, it will swiftly put the Lexus into ‘eco’ mode. Here at NZPC we’re not quite sure what eco mode means (must be some weird for­eign thing), so we spun the mode se­lec­tor to the right and ini­ti­ated ‘sport’ mode. So, how do you know what mode you are in, and what that mode will do for you? Two thirds of the gauge clus­ter is dig­i­tal, and on the left hand side, an LCD screen dis­plays your mode, and a lit­tle dig­i­tal ren­der of the RC-F with a glow­ing en­gine pops up. The cen­tre-gauge pod, (where the ta­chome­ter is placed) changes with ev­ery mode dis­play­ing vary­ing in­for­ma­tion, mode de­pen­dent. So, throw it in eco and it dis­plays your speed and gear, but throw it in sport mode and it will tell you oil and wa­ter tem­per­a­tures, and RPM as the main sub­ject. Once the glow­ing RC-F ren­der dis­ap­pears, you are greeted with an­other sub­menu which dis­plays var­i­ous out­puts of in­for­ma­tion, such as fuel econ­omy, G-forces, and lap times. The rest of the but­tons weren’t es­sen­tial for our needs.

With the Lexus RC-F now in sport mode, it was now time to put it through its paces, and if the old IS-F en­gine — which this ex­am­ple is based on is any­thing to go by — we felt we should be in for one hell of a ride. Be­hind the 348kW (467hp) Lexus 2UR-GSE en­gine is an eight­speed torque con­verter–style au­to­matic, which, ac­cord­ing to Lexus, is geared much bet­ter than the IS-F, and we’d tend to agree. Cruis­ing in eighth gear on the high­way at bang on the speed limit will see the revs sit at around 1900rpm, but mash the loud pedal and the trans­mis­sion will chop down to the ap­pro­pri­ate gear and have you hurtling along at quite the pace. With the en­gine be­ing the main at­trac­tion for us to drive the Lexus, we were happy that it ex­ceeded our ex­pec­ta­tions. No it doesn’t have a tur­bocharger, but have you ever revved out a high com­pres­sion, high horse­power, nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated V8 with four cams? It’s au­ral ex­cel­lence. Noth­ing much hap­pens down the bot­tom of the rev-range as ex­pected, but once you hit 4000rpm, an in­take flap on the side of the air box opens, the VVT-i does what it needs to do, and the V8 uti­lizes its high-flow­ing de­sign, pin­ning you back into your seat. Power gets dis­trib­uted be­tween the two rear wheels thanks to the elec­tronic torque

vec­tor­ing dif­fer­en­tial (TVD), which in typ­i­cal Lexus fash­ion, has three modes — nor­mal, slalom, and track. The TVD is truly phe­nom­e­nal. Even when we were giv­ing it a se­ri­ous shoe­ful through­out a wet stretch of road, com­pris­ing sev­eral crests, dips, and bumps, there was no loss of trac­tion — an amaz­ing feat for a near-on 500hp V8 rear-wheel-drive coupe that weighs close to 1900kg. This in­stills a huge amount of con­fi­dence be­hind the wheel, some­thing you need when ped­alling a $160,000-plus car at pace, es­pe­cially when it’s not yours.

So, what did we en­joy most about the RC-F? Well, quite frankly, it did ev­ery­thing well. It could use a bit more torque down low for city driv­ing and over­tak­ing, but over­all the RC-F is a fan­tas­tic all–round per­former. Staffer Rene has a friend with an E92 M3, and side by side, the Lexus wins in the in­te­rior depart­ment hands down — it’s a spec­tac­u­lar place to re­side. Also, ini­tially we weren’t keen on the bright or­ange, but once we started notic­ing passes by whip­ping out their smartphones and snap­ping pho­tos, we re­al­ized the Lexus re­ally does put on quite the show.

FOR MORE COV­ER­AGE, VISIT: THEMO­TOR­HOOD.COM/NZPER­FOR­MANCECAR

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