THRASHING THE LEXUS RC-F
ZETEC-POWERED MKII ESCORT
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.
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