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First drive: Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.

First drive: Lexus RC F
Lexus targets the BMW M4 with its naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 RC F coupé. It's not flawless, but it is hugely charismatic.

 



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Lexus RC F

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A sterling effort from Lexus, the RC F channels a lot of the excellence possessed by its V8 predecessor, the IS F, and transplants it into a coupé body. It isn't quite as adept or agile as the BMW M4, which it is obviously aimed at, although its normally aspirated engine somewhat makes up for its outright dynamic deficits.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Lexus RC F
Pricing: RC F from £59,995; RC F Carbon from £67,995
Engine: 5.0-litre V8 petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive with torque vectoring differential, eight-speed Sports Direct Shift automatic
Body style: two-door coupé
CO2 emissions: 252g/km (VED Band L, £860 first year, £485 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 26.2mpg
Top speed: 168mph (electronically limited)
0-62mph: 4.5 seconds
Power: 477hp at 7,100rpm
Torque: 530Nm at 4,800- to 5,600rpm

What's this?

The Lexus RC F coupé, the second V8-engined, F-badged car from the Japanese company after the now-defunct IS F saloon. Lexus is trying to channel some of the magic that surrounded its LFA supercar, to the extent that the styling of the RC F clearly takes its influence from the V10 machine. The exterior detailing is a little complicated at the front end, although the rear is well resolved, while the interior is of a high standard, but still possesses some of those plastics that already look dated. The boot's a good size but the rear seats are tight for adults. The front buckets, however, are truly excellent, comfortable and supportive in equal measure.

Any car entering this 400hp+, two-door, sub-five seconds to 62mph arena inevitably faces a phalanx of German artillery, in the form of the Audi RS 5, Mercedes-AMG C 63 (about to be replaced with a new, twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 model) and the benchmark - BMW's M4. But what the RC F offers that none of the above can is normal aspiration. Its engineers have steadfastly refused to either super- or turbocharge the 5.0-litre V8, which is overhauled from its original outing in the IS F with a new intake manifold, throttle body, valve train, conrods, pistons... the lot, basically. Lexus claims the M4 was used as a benchmark during development of the RC F.

How does it drive?

First, the bad news - if you're expecting the sort of tied-down, rock-hard body control of a BMW M4, the RC F will disappoint. It has softer damping than the Beemer, with more feeling of roll across the back axle. Further indications of its slightly different approach at the rapid coupé format are an eight-speed automatic gearbox that's good, but not great (it's slow on downshifts at times and ridiculously long-geared given the amount of cogs it's got; pulling 100mph in fourth, it still has 2,000rpm to go before the redline - six gears would probably be more than enough), and an engine that delivers healthy peak torque of 530Nm at a relatively lofty (for a big displacement V8) 4,800rpm. It's also heavy, at 1,765kg - that's a whopping 193kg more than an M4.

But, my word, it doesn't half sound good. Particularly when it breaches the 3,500rpm mark and the tailpipes clear their throats. There's no hint of artificiality about any of its song, be that induction roar or exhaust note; it doesn't needlessly throw in pops and bangs on the overrun and it just sounds barrel-chested and utterly magnificent. It's also seriously quick when you stoke it up. With a keenness to rev and linear throttle response, the pace rewards are there for the committed. If you're absolutely sated on turbocharged motors with their fat torque plateaus, we have no doubt you'll find the Lexus' engine hard work - but we love it for that, as it encourages keen drivers to really seek out its performance, rather than rely lazy, forced induction grunt. Thank you for being different, Lexus.

In terms of handling, it's a convincing track motor - we tried it on Ascari's undulating curves, where it masked its weight very well - but it's even better as a road car, where it unites good body control with a reasonably smooth ride, quiet cruising manners, a biddable rear end (slides are progressive and easily caught), sharp, precise steering and monster brakes.

The payoff of that V8, sadly, is that the M4 monsters the RC F on emissions and fuel economy; it sits two bands lower in Band J than the Lexus, so at £485/£265 first year/annually thereafter for the BMW, if you have the Lexus for just three years you'll be paying £815 more for road tax alone. Also, it has no hope of achieving 26.2mpg average economy if you want to enjoy a fraction of its upper-rev range performance. That's the price you pay for that glorious powerplant.

Verdict

The Lexus isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea; one word that can be applied to it is fussy. It has fussy front-end detailing, a fussy interior, a fussy amount of driving set-ups (five on the gearbox, four on the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management dial and three for the torque vectoring differential) and a fussy gearbox, given you need to swap cogs quite often to elicit acceleration. But the RC F is every bit as capable as the IS F that preceded it and its V8 engine makes it a unique proposition in a market now swamped with turbochargers. It's by no means perfect, but we like the Lexus RC F. A hell of a lot.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 10 Dec 2014









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2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.

2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.



2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.
 

2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.
 

2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.
 

2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.
 

2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.
 

2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.
 

2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.
 

2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.
 

2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.
 

2015 Lexus RC F. Image by Lexus.
 






 

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