Test Drives

Lexus RC F 2014 Review: Holy F



 

DERRYN WONG IN NEW YORK, USA

Lexus has released its first proper hard-top coupe in years, the RC. Here is the raging V8 version, the RC F. Read our comprehensive review and analysis on the new RC 350 and RC F in the October issue of CarBuyer, out in two weeks time!

What is this predatory object?

It’s the Lexus RC F. The RC is the first proper Lexus coupe since the first-generation SC, and the regular RC 350 takes aim at the likes of the Audi A5 3.0, BMW 435i and Mercedes-Benz C 350 coupe. The RC F, armed with a 5.0-litre, V8 engine, takes aim at the usual high performance German suspects: RS 5, M3, C 63 Coupe.

A 5.0-litre V8? What’s it dooooo….

Stop slobbering there, you’re getting in the way of our slobbering. The V8 is derived from the IS F’s, as well as the track special, Japan-only CCS R track machine. It’s got a huge number of new components (titanium valves, forged con rods) but the key improvement is a modified valve management system derived from Toyota/Lexus hybrid tech. It runs an Atkinson cycle when at low revs or loads to save fuel – Lexus says it effectively makes the engine a 4.2 in terms of emissions.

So it’s actually quite efficient?

Erm, we never once drove it in Eco mode (there are four modes in total, with Normal, Sport and Sport+) for scientific reasons. The important thing is, it’s a current car (unlike the RS 5 and C 63) that is naturally-aspirated, and will in the near future be the only non-forced induction car in the segment. The engine, and eight speed automatic gearbox, is a powerhouse combination, delivering revs, power and speed explosively quickly, but in a predictable, metered fashion. In other words, it’s a high-performance NA engine for the modern day, and we’re very, very glad Lexus has made it.

READ MORE: Lexus’ first turbo – NX200t review

What’ll it do, then?

Official figures stand at 4.5 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint, but it’s probably a total lie, given the 477bhp RC F is now the most powerful (standard) car in its class. Top whack is limited to 270km/h, but engineers reckon it’ll top 300km/h easily if unrestricted. The chassis and frame is significantly enhanced over a standard RC (70 percent of the adaptive suspension system is new) and there’s also an active rear differential, the Torque Vectoring Differential (TVD). Standard for the Singapore market (overseas has a conventional Torsen rear differential option), Lexus says it’s the first application of torque vectoring in a front-engine, rear-wheel drive car yet.

How’s it handle on the road?

On America’s Worst Road Surfaces, the RC F jiggles and jogs like an excited horse, but everywhere else in the world has better tarmac, which is where the RC’s base refinement and smoothness comes in. It’ll cruise easy if you do, and is more than passably-good at putting on a civilised mien when needed.

How about on track?

That’s where the fun begins. S+ engages the sport mode, which changes the LFA-inspired instrument cluster to a high-contrast mode, switches steering, engine and suspension settings to suit. In this setting, hit the TC/VDIM switch once for ‘Expert’ mode, which lets you do anything but spin. The torque vectoring diff can be set in Normal, Slalom or Track modes to suit. It helps that the car is inherently approachable, chassis wise, with a deeply confidence-inspiring front end and finely-controllable power from the howling V8. The TVD is the icing on the cake, eliminating oversteer. It’s a remarkably easy car to drive up to the limits of adhesion, and if you so wish, a little over them too. It’s a modern, high-tech coupe with a decidedly refreshing, old-school driving feel, and of that, Lexus should be justifiably proud.

For a Lexus, it’s quite loud…

Yes, there is an electronic sound system which pipes in engine noise and designed to make the car sound like the LFA supercar too. It only works in S+ mode and is colossally loud and mildly entertaining, although purists will sneer, this is standard for the segment now.

READ MORE: Lexus IS 300h F Sport review  

We meant visually…

Oh. Well, if you choose right, it’s one of the loudest, least apologetic Lexus machines to ever roll from a showroom. Lava Orange (a pearlescent paint) for example, can be paired with the optional carbon kit which gives you a CF bonnet, roof and rear-wing for a 10kg weight saving. Or you could choose a regular colour, like Heat Blue, which is our personal favourite. Even the paint is new – a novel five-layered, twice-baked finish with a silver base coat that looks beautiful in the sunlight.

Should the Germans be concerned then?

Yes, very. Unlike the IS F, the RC F is very convincing indeed, and should have no trouble worming its naturally-aspirated, directly-controlable way into the hearts of driving enthusiasts when it launches in Singapore next year. 

NEED TO KNOW

Lexus RC F

Engine 4,969cc, 32V, V8
Power 477bhp at 7,100rpm
Torque 530Nm at 4800-5600rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 270km/h (limited)
0-100km/h 4.5 seconds
Fuel efficiency 12.7/100km
CO2  TBA g/km

Price TBA

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