GERMANY – Visiting the Nürburgring is always a very special event. It is a haven for people with petrol-infused blood streams as the jewels of the automotive world is on display on every piece of tarmac, on and surrounding the Nordschleife. Therefore, it would have been a sin not to add to the exotic collection and I was fortunate to use a loan Lexus RC F as a rental for my stay…
Piloting the Lexus down a damp, snaking forest road in the region, I rather decided to head to a piece of autobahn to see how the RC F (legally) stretches its legs. The engine, and especially the intake roar, is intense under acceleration and reminds of a proper, old-school V8 soundtrack. The main reason for this is the absence of turbochargers that rob the evocative soundtrack of exhaust energy.
Driving on the autobahn in search for big numbers takes a game of patience. There is traffic to consider and the road is not always straight. Then an opportunity presented itself in the form of a long, open section with little traffic. I dropped the hammer at an indicated 160 km/h and watched the speed built as the 351 kW was doing its business. 200 km/h, 250 km/h and then the speed steadily increased to an indicated 285 km/h before an upcoming bend put a stop to the fun… All the time the vehicle felt absolutely planted and even the cabin’s road-noise insulation at that speed was good. Decreasing the speed to a mere 200 km/h, which felt pedestrian in comparison, made it clear that this Lexus can devour long distances at searing pace in absolute comfort.
What is the RC F?
The RC F was launched towards the end of 2014 as the top-of-the-range RC model to presumably take on the likes of the BMW M4 and Audi RS5 according to the press (but not Lexus). The platform is a bit of an amalgamation between IS and GS models. The 5,0-litre V8 comes straight from the IS F, but is slightly modified for the RC F application.
The styling is definitely Japanese and in the RC F’s case, shares design elements with the halo LFA supercar. Compared with a standard RC, the front bumper, air intakes and splitter are more aggressive and the bonnet features a power bulge with air intake. The side profile gains flared wheelarches and additional cooling vents behind the front wheels. At the rear the signature stacked quad exhaust pipes show intent, while bespoke 19-inch wheels complete the picture. The end result is a shape not as clean or flowing as those of the German competitors, but it did draw quite a few eyeballs.
Inside the Lexus theme continuous with a multi-layer dash featuring a plethora of buttons on different sections. It is not the most intuitive infotainment system to use but owners will adapt in time. The seats, however, are beautifully crafted, comfortable and supportive. The instrument cluster features a fixed centrally mounted rev counter (not movable as in the standard RC), a small, analogue speedometer to the right and a comprehensive data display section on the left. Quality materials are used throughout the cabin.
Ride and handling
The damping rates on the shocks are automatically adjusted when the different driving modes are selected. In normal mode, the vehicle is fairly comfortable, but the sport+ function is best left for smooth surfaces. The RC F weighs a hefty 1,86 tonnes and there is no hiding the mass in tight corners. The steering is on the heavy side, which helps high-speed stability, but makes the vehicle feel less nimble at slower speeds.
Has Lexus missed the mark?
If you believe the press that the RC F was built as a BMW M4 slayer, you will be disappointed. This was never the intention of Lexus as it simply has not got the firepower to overwhelm the mass and be a contender. You should rather view the RC F is an indecently fast GT with a fun factor to boot. How often do you take your vehicle to the track? Exactly. The RC F makes perfect sense as a road car and that engine sound is enough to entertain for many kilometres. Unfortunately, there are no plans to bring the RC F to South Africa…
Model: Lexus RC F
Price: not available in South Africa
Engine: 5,0-litre, V8
Power: 351 kW at 7 100 r/min
Torque: 530 N.m 4 800 r/min
Transmission: 8-speed auto
0-100 km/h: 4,4 secs
Top speed: 270 km/h
Fuel consumption: 10,9 L/100 km
CO2: 251 g/km
*manufacturer claimed figures