Lexus South Africa has announced its substantially revised RC F range, which includes the first-ever sharp specification RC F Track Edition.
In addition to a series of dramatic enhancements targeting reduced weight and even more dynamic handling, the RC F debuts improved aerodynamics with greater downforce particularly on the front axle, stiffer and lighter suspension components, firmer steering control, a freer-breathing and lighter engine, more intuitive transmission and grippier tyres.
The multitude of focused changes prioritise even more engaging handling with improved driver feedback, enabling higher turn-in speed to a corner, greater chassis stability during rapid direction changes, plus improved steering and throttle response.
The refreshed styling of the RC F incorporates new single-piece high-grade LED headlights and a wider grille with L-shaped mesh pattern, emphasising a low and aggressive stance.
Enlarged front-side air breathers and new canard 'fins' on the lower front bumper more accurately harness air. Control of flow is then directed by fin-shaped side rocker mouldings to new rear air breathers.
The RC F Track Edition hones that aerodynamic focus with a front lower spoiler to further reduce front-end lift, and carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) side fins.
In addition to the new air breather, the rear introduces sharper L-shaped tail-lights, vertical fins and a new diffuser - produced in CFRP for the RC F Track Edition, which further includes a CFRP fixed rear wing generating 26 kg of downforce.
The high-revving, highly acclaimed normally aspirated 5,0-litre V8 produces 351 kW of power at 7 100 r/min and 530 N.m of torque between 4 800 r/min and 5 600 r/min, continuing to cement its place among the most responsive and sonorous engines.
Courtesy of a 7,0 percent-lighter machined intake manifold and intelligently designed new intake piping, the engine meets Euro 6 emissions standards while also providing more linear throttle response as a key improvement to drivability.
A new, more solid rear engine mount has also been developed to greatly enhance handling stability particularly at the cornering limit.
The eight-speed automatic transmission debuts new Artificial Intelligence (AI) SHIFT control with greater intuition and, in Sport S+ mode, more aggressive downshifting than previously.
For the first time since the LFA supercar, Lexus will offer standard launch control across the RC F range to enable faster and more controlled standing-start take-off.
Both production of the front suspension upper support mounts and rear toe control arm bracket have been changed from steel to aluminium, while hollow rear-axle shafts replace solid shafts, in each case to reduce weight and enhance rigidity.
The strength of the steering rack bushing has also been increased by 150 per cent to boost steering response and significantly enhance front-wheel toe control, joining newly-designed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres to increase agility and driver feedback. The changes have also resulted in a reduced kerb weight of 15 kg for the RC F.
For the RC F Track Edition, high-performance Brembo carbon-ceramic disc brakes (380 mm diameter front matched by 35 mm-larger 380 mm units rear) join 19-inch motorsport-inspired lightweight BBS alloy wheels to reduce unsprung mass by 25 kg. A titanium exhaust further reduces weight of the RC F Track Edition by 6 kg, while increasing the dramatic sound produced particularly at high engine speeds.
The CFRP bonnet, roof, rear diffuser, lower rocker panel, front spoiler, rear wing and rear-seat brace also help deliver a 65 kg total reduction for the RC F Track Edition, which has a kerb weight of 1 715 kg.
The 0-100 km/h performance of the RC F Track Edition is two-tenths quicker than the RC F at just 4,3 seconds, making it the fastest Lexus offered since the LFA.
Crucially, both the RC F and RC F Track Edition are offered with a level of craftsmanship, luxury and safety delivered by every Lexus, including a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system and some features of the Lexus Safety System+.
Lexus Sales and Marketing Vice President, Glenn Crompton says the RC F and RC F Track Edition make a formidable pair in the performance-enthused South Africa market. "Offering a more aggressively priced RC F and a more aggressively dynamic RC F Track Edition is an ideal twin-strategy in this performance-loving South Africa market too," Crompton adds.
"These highly sophisticated, proudly-unique normally aspirated V8-powered coupes have never been better represented than after such comprehensive upgrades." The new RC F range is available at Lexus dealerships now.
Lexus has targeted a major leap forward in aerodynamic downforce with the RC F and RC F Track Edition, adopting strategies from the acclaimed RC F GT500 and RC F GT3 race cars.
The changes reduce lift as well as managing air flow around the car to improve dynamic stability and reduce drag while also refining the coupes’ appearances. New canard shapes on the front-bumper spoiler corners help optimise stability across a variety of speeds.
Compared with the previous RC F, there is an increase in the vortex generated by the new canard shape, resulting in greater downforce pressure and a more planted feel.
The canard shape is subtle, yet it achieves similar functionality to the fin-type canards featured on race cars. The lower surface of the front spoiler also guides the air more smoothly under the RC F.
The RC F Track Edition adds a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic front spoiler to further enhance front-end turn-in control. A CFRP bonnet and roof reduce vehicle kerb weight by 9 kg while lowering the centre of gravity and delivering an aggressive look befitting of a racetrack-focused flagship.
For both RC F and RC F Track Edition, newly designed and enlarged side 'air breathers' better control and exhaust air from the wheel housings, allowing the suspension to operate more smoothly.
At the side, a fin has been adopted to the lower edge of the rocker mouldings, protruding 20mm outwards. These create increased vertical air resistance, suppressing excess motion during vehicle roll movement.
For the RC F Track Edition, an additional CFRP lower fin has been added, protruding at twice the distance to deliver further gains in vehicle roll control.
In both grades, a new concave surface in front of the rear wheel also reduces pressure fluctuation on the rear tyres, further enhancing straight-line stability and enabling the air to flow more smoothly down the side of the vehicle.
For the first time, air breathers have also been added to the rear bumper to exhaust air from the rear wheelarch, helping to deliver more predictable vertical movement and lateral behaviour. A redesigned rear diffuser – painted in body colour for the RC F and produced in CFRP for the RC F Track Edition – incorporates vertical fins to further assist air flow.
Behind the bumper of both the RC F and RC F Track Edition, a new bumper reinforcement combines CFRP and aluminium, a world-first development that realises a 0,5kg reduction in weight.
The quad exhaust pipes are produced in titanium with a signature blue tip for the RC F Track Edition, delivering both a more strident exhaust note particularly at high engine speeds and a further 7 kg weight reduction.
A retractable spoiler continues as standard on the RC F. A CFRP fixed rear wing of the RC F Track Edition increases downforce by 26 kg while delivering both a 3 kg weight reduction and 2,0 percent reduction in co-efficient of drag.
The CFRP fixed rear wing – a first for a mass-production Lexus vehicle – inherits its twill woven carbon material from the famed LFA supercar, enabling a seductive 'F' logo to be imprinted on each end plate.
Lexus RC F and RC F Track Edition chief of development Yuichi Tsurumoto said aerodynamic learnings over the past five years meant targeted exterior changes delivered significant performance benefits.
"The extensive aerodynamic knowledge gained from the RC F GT500 and RC F GT3 race cars has been applied to the exterior of the new RC F," said Mr Tsurumoto.
"Every shape has been given function, embodying 'race-bred design'. Extraordinary effort has been placed on reducing front lift. As a result, even at ultra-high speeds around 250 km/h, the front feels firmly planted on the road surface," he said.
Subtle visual changes include new high-grade LED headlights and L-shaped tail-lights shared with other versions of the elegant RC coupe, while a new side mirror design is borrowed from the stylish LC coupe.
The stainless-steel window surround of the previous RC F has been changed to a new black stainless design. Using a chemical treatment to thicken the oxide film covering the surface of the stainless-steel material, it introduces a more modern and tactile finish to the side of the most aggressive Lexus sports coupes.
The signature spindle grille and lower bumper air intakes have been broadened to help deliver a bolder look and more aggressive stance, emphasising vehicle width.
In South Africa, the RC F is available in a choice of six colours including White Nova, Sonic Titanium, Solar Storm Red, Poseidon Blue, Naples Yellow and Graphite Black. The RC F Track Edition is available in only four colour options which include, White Nova, Sonic Titanium, Mercury Grey Metallic as well as Graphite Black.
Enhanced steering effectiveness and reduced understeer were core development targets for the RC F and RC F Track Edition, with lighter and stronger chassis components now delivering an even more agile and dynamic driving experience.
Compared with the previous RC F, the steering spring rate has increased by 150 percent on both grades, reducing understeer and improving driver feedback.
This change counteracts potential deflection by the bushings between the electronic power steering (EPS) rack and the front sub frame, such as in high G-load cornering, which can cause toe-angle changes that require a steering-angle change.
In other changes, the outer casing of the front suspension upper supports has changed from steel to aluminium for both RC F and RC F Track Edition, realising a 0,7 kg weight reduction.
Both grades benefit from a rear toe control arm bracket that has changed from steel to aluminium, providing greater rigidity and a 0,5 kg weight reduction.
Stiffness of the rear sub frame bushings has been increased in both vertical and lateral directions. This suppresses deformation of the bushings, minimises changes in rear-wheel camber angle and enhances maximum lateral cornering G.
Newly developed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres have been tailored specifically to the RC F and RC F Track Edition to further improve turn-in grip, power-down on corner exit and lateral cornering G particularly at high speeds.
A hollowed driveshaft (reducing weight by 1,8 kg) now connects to a mechanical limited-slip differential for both RC F and RC F Track Edition, which delivers linear and controlled response for the driver in this engaging rear-wheel drive duo. The RC F continues to offer a comprehensive Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management system.
When the vehicle is in the SPORT S+ mode, a less restrictive vehicle stability control (VSC) setting is enabled. This mode allows drivers a high level of both driving confidence and fun that is suitable for a race track environment.
When the vehicle is in SPORT S+ and the VSC Off switch is pressed, EXPERT mode is enabled. EXPERT provides pro-active slide control of the vehicle that is suitable for a racetrack environment, allowing the driver to hone their skills on the track with a small degree of electronic assistance.
The RC F's highly specialised Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) has also been improved thanks to faster, smoother and more precise damping force adjustment.
The linear solenoid installed inside each SACHS-developed AVS monotube shock absorbers can adjust damping force across a range of 30 levels.
Software control has been fine-tuned to realise suppler ride quality in the driver-selectable NORMAL mode and reduced body roll in SPORT S+ mode.
Of the two available modes, NORMAL mode precisely operates to adapt to varying road conditions and the damping force characteristics are tuned to absorb large inputs from the road surface. This mode was extensively tuned and was also deemed best-suited to a tough racetrack. SPORT S+ mode increases damping force characteristics and is a setting more closely matched to a level racetrack.
Lexus RC F and RC F Track Edition chief of development Yuichi Tsurumoto said the detailed chassis changes resulted in a significantly enhanced driving experience.
"For Lexus to continue providing a sports car that offers 'amazement and passion' to customers, we fully realised that the driving performance must be taken to the next level," Mr Tsurumoto said.
"We worked towards enhancing performance and vehicle behaviour at the limit. More concretely, decreasing understeer and enhancing the steering at the limit. Furthermore, we also worked to enhance the road-hugging ability in order to increase vehicle stability," he said.
It is said that 1 kg of unsprung weight is equivalent to 10 kg of sprung weight.
With the RC F Track Edition, Lexus has delivered approximately 25 kg in unsprung weight reduction thanks to the fitment of light-weight alloy wheels and carbon-ceramic disc brakes.
This substantial elimination of weight removes pressure from the suspension componentry, significantly improving ride quality while greatly enhancing handling agility and body control on rough road surfaces and tough racetrack kerbs.
Four 19-inch forged alloy wheel designs are available on RC F and RC F Track Edition. A standard machined-finish design features 11 sharp twin-spokes for the RC F model. While the RC F Track Edition comes standard with a design incorporating a dark matt finish 10-spoke design.
These ultra-light motorsport-inspired BBS wheels are inherited from the RC F GT3 and RC F GT500 design.
High-performance Brembo carbon-ceramic disc brakes deliver a 22 kg advantage compared with conventional cast-iron disc brakes. Carbon-ceramic, an extremely hard material that helps improve disc life, is infused with silicon to improve effectiveness in cold and wet conditions.
Critically for a racetrack-focused flagship grade, brake vibration does not occur because carbon ceramic discs have very little expansion, eliminating pedal fade.
The design incorporates a floating structure with a brake ring and mounting bell connected with 10 bushes, further suppressing potential high-temperature disc deformation.
Rear-disc diameter has grown by 35 mm to 380 mm compared with the RC F, while a front disc size of 380 mm is shared by both Lexus sports cars. Brake pads on the RC F Track Edition are also thicker.
The RC F's high-performance braking package, also developed by Brembo, shares the RC F Track Edition's front six-piston and rear four-piston aluminium mono-block calliper design. The callipers of the RC F are black while those of the RC F Track Edition can be recognised by an aggressive red treatment.
The RC F and RC F Track Edition both further benefit from improved brake pedal feel owing to the deletion of a pedal force switch and an altered link location.
Lexus has delivered a newly-revised and freer-breathing 5,0-litre V8 for the RC F and RC F Track Edition that further embraces the benefits of natural aspiration in a flagship performance coupe.
An innate driver connection via the throttle and a stirring high-rpm crescendo have been targeted for even greater improvement while reducing emissions and improving responsiveness.
As mentioned further above, a maximum power of 351 kW is produced at 7 100 r/min and peak torque of 530 N.m is delivered between 4 800 r/min and 5 600 r/min. A benchmark blend of driver connection, aural satisfaction and superb performance has been achieved, delivering immediate throttle response, high rev-ability as well as 0-100 km/h in 4,5 seconds for RC F and 4,3 seconds for RC F Track Edition.
The highly sophisticated 2UR-GSE petrol engine, which continues to be finely crafted with forged connecting rods and titanium valves, is now lighter and becomes Euro 6 emissions compliant for the first time.
There has also been further optimisation of the exclusive Lexus D-4S control, which combines port and direct-fuel injection with a high 12.3:1 compression ratio for maximum performance and low emissions.
More than 10 engine components were targeted to reduce weight and therefore lower the centre of gravity. A new, more finely-machined intake manifold has resulted in weight reduction of 7,0 percent for this part.
In order to reduce induction pressure loss and improve throttle response, the shape of the air inlet ducts has been changed and weight reduced. In a Lexus first, aerodynamically enhanced fins have been added to a newly designed outlet pipe.
The engine speed point for the secondary intake opening has been lowered from 3 600 r/min to 2 800 r/min to further improve drivability and enhance engine sound.
Throttle characteristics under small opening angles have been revised to ensure smooth operation. The response is exactly proportional to the amount the pedal is depressed for linear control whether on road or racetrack.
Supporting these changes, newly designed and more rigid rear engine mounts feature a significantly higher spring rate to better control the movement of mass, enhancing the tactility of the driving experience and improving handling stability.
The eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission is equipped with newly developed Artificial Intelligence Shift control with drive mode switching that more expertly adapts to the driver's intentions.
In SPORT S and SPORT S+ modes, the transmission delivers the most sophisticated and aggressive tuning yet, with quicker downshifting than even the LC sports car.
When driving on winding roads or a racetrack, the control maintains a low gear and high engine speed, offering response to rival that of extremely advanced-level drivers using manual control. When driving at a leisurely pace, the control uses finely tuned intuitive technology to select a high gear and keep engine speed low.
Drivers can opt for manual gear selection by interacting with a centre console-mounted tip-shifter or steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters.
The revised transmission further enables the integration of a launch control system, used for the first time in a Lexus since the hallowed LFA supercar.
Activated by pushing a button on the centre console, launch control software automatically adjusts the traction and throttle control to suppress wheelspin and deliver maximum acceleration from a stop.
For ease of use, the launch control switch is on the centre console below the Drive Mode Select dial that offers ECO, NORMAL, SPORT S, SPORT S+ and Custom modes.
When ECO mode is selected, engine output, throttle opening and air-conditioning are automatically controlled to enable fuel-efficient driving. It shares a standard level of electric power steering assistance with NORMAL mode, which delivers a balanced feeling of acceleration and smoothness.
When SPORT S mode is selected, the engine output, throttle opening and steering assistance are adjusted for excellent acceleration and sporty steering feel.
SPORT S+ maintains these selections but switches the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) to its firmest setting and the Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM) to a higher threshold before electronic intervention occurs.
Drivers can also choose Custom mode, individually engaging each selection including ECO, NORMAL and POWER for the powertrain, NORMAL and SPORT for AVS and EPS, and ECO and NORMAL for air-conditioning.
Significantly improved aerodynamics, handling and performance have not come at the expense of luxury, refinement or safety in the RC F and RC F Track Edition.
Lexus has adopted high-strength light-weight parts to lower the centre of gravity and sharpen powertrain response while imbuing the cabin with greater practicality and an even more premium feel.
Softly trimmed kneepads have been added to the centre console flanks, while hairline finishing on the centre-console cluster has been used for a higher quality feel. The design of the centre and side air vents has been given a slimline 'floating' appearance, and newly designed tandem cupholders increase storage space.
Glass-fibre ornamentation is standard on the RC F. Alluring and exotic red carbon-fibre ornamentation has been newly developed for the RC F Track Edition.
A circular thin-film transistor (TFT) meter placed ahead of the driver changes according to the driver's selection with the Drive Mode Select dial.
The display switches between a blue economy indicator ring in ECO, a standard tachometer and digital speedometer in NORMAL, a white and red cluster in SPORT S and orange in SPORT S+ with three-stage upshift indicator lights.
Drivers can also switch between exclusive functions such as a lap timer and G-force display.
A punched metal texture is utilised in non-TFT display areas to provide a sophisticated and sporty look.
All RC F variants feature an expansive 10,3-inch widescreen centre display featuring satellite navigation, digital radio and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming including voice recognition.
The 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system further ensures the crisp sound quality befitting of a premium sports coupe.
The driving position is set low for a sporty feel, while access to the rear seats is aided by electrically adjustable front seats with one-touch walk-in function that automatically slides forward and then returns to position.
The RC F is available with four interior trims – white, black and pure red semi-aniline leather-accented choices plus "competition red" Alcantara exclusive to the RC F Track Edition.
Heated and ventilated seats as well as an electrically adjustable steering column are standard for front and passenger seats on all variants except the light-weight, track-focused RC F Track Edition- which only has the functionality for the front seats.
All variants are equipped with the highest level of safety technology including the Lexus Safety System+ suite of driving aids: Pre-crash (Brake Synchronised) safety system with pedestrian detection, Standard-Adaptive Cruise Control, lane-departure warning with steering assist and LED-Automatic High Beam.
Blind-spot monitor, reversing camera, front clearance and rear parking sonars and rear cross-traffic alert are also standard.
Repackaging of the RC F's luggage compartment has liberated an additional four litres of volume, at 366 litres (VDA measurement). A ski-port, allowing storage of longer items, is replaced in the RC F Track Edition by a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic partition brace to further enhance body rigidity.
The Lexus RC F retails for R1 318 300. The RC F Track Edition then retails for R2 098 200. Both vehicles come standards with Lexus’ best-in-class seven-year/105 000 km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. The vehicle’s service intervals are at every 15 000 km, alternatively every 12 months.