Kimatni D. Rawlins
The Lexus SC 400 was ahead of time when it entered the stage back in 1991. It was flawless and offered owners interior prestige and comforting opulence alike. The sports coupe’s futuristic styling commingled Japanese craftsmanship into a package Lexus owners would continuously come to expect. However, if there had been an SC F variant then wagers would have increased tenfold since the combination of attraction, luxury and performance in today’s auto market is what separates the norm from the pursuit of pure perfection. I do believe Lexus has now set their internal bar with the introduction of the all-new 2015 RC F.
Of course the hyper-performing V10 powered LFA showcased the engineering capabilities of Lexus and the supercar’s abilities to run with the most elite in the category. But price point as expected relegated the vehicle to only a handful of aficionados. Then there was the release of the exciting IS F. Fast forwarding to 2014, we now have a RC (Radical Coupe) which defines performance on a wider and more affordable scale. Insert the letter “F” to the new model in order to tap into unadulterated experiences typically besieged by familiar vehicles like the BMW M4, Cadillac CTS-V, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and the Audi RS5. Dubbed after Fuji Speedway where the brand holds most of its technical vehicle research, “F” represents everything exhilarating and electrifying from the model range such as the RC F.
To familiarize ourselves with the RC F — built alongside the RC — we challenged it on two racetracks including the high banks of Atlanta Motor Speedway with Adam Andretti and NOLA Motorsports Park 20 minutes outside of downtown New Orleans. Performing admirably and by far beyond my expectations, the coupe is elevated by a 467-horsepower 5-liter V8 distributing 389 lb-ft of torque between 4,800 to 5,600 rpm and revs to 7,100 rpm. With a top speed of 170 mph and accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds the RC F is absolutely vitalizing. The advanced powerplant is paired with an 8-speed close-ratio Sports Program Direct Shift (SPDS) transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. At NOLA the super coupe was light and fluid through turns and switchbacks and stored enough reserved power in each gear when acceleration was required. Its electric power steering is firm and heavy while the standard Torsen Limited Slip Differential increases handling. However, if you upgrade to the Torque Vectoring Differential (TVD) as part of the Performance Package (includes the carbon fiber roof and wing), you’ll wonder why this track technology is absent on all models. I felt much more comfortable with TVD in and out of turns since it’s actively monitoring the vehicle’s behavior and instills the RC F with greater situational awareness at all times. TVD’s three modes include:
- STANDARD (default setting) provides the best formula for agility and firmness.
- SLALOM underscores sprightly steering response and the nimbleness of a smaller car.
- TRACK highlights stability during high speeds on the raceway.
Keep in mind the carbon fiber development was part of the LFA undertaking as well as the deploying wing at 50mph and above to increase downforce (can also be controlled manually by driver). Expect an estimated fuel economy of 16 city/25 highway/19 combined mpg.
As stated, “F” is the halo moniker for Lexus and representative of characteristic traits indicative of performance starting with the color pallets, wheels, grille and chiseled body. The pumpkin orange hue or Molten Pearl as Lexus refers to it, is spectacular, especially in combo with the Performance Package. Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 and Infrared are pretty cool shades as well. The RC F rolls on staggered BBS specific, forged aluminum rims (19 x 9” front and 19 x10” rear) tucked in 255/35R19 front and 275/35R19 RR rear Bridgestone Potenzas or Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s. I’m a Michelin Man myself and prefer the highly-touted disposition of the Pilots Sports. Brembo 15” slotted rotors and 6-piston front calipers (4-piston rear) halt this vehicle abruptly from top speeds. And if you have a brake package this big then you need superior cooling which Lexus engineers made certain through large vents up front that guide air over the rotors. Side slits similar to those on racecars are utilized to pull heat out of the engine to ascertain the RC F maintains power on demand. Another breathable vent sits atop the hood and is designed for functionality and not just looks. As with most sports cars, sound is symptomatic of performance. Dual exhausts splitting into quad tips exemplify the aggressive rear of the RC F and creates the sweetest, most powerful reverberation Lexus has ever produced. Last but not least is the impeccable “spindle” grille which is a Lexus hallmark that redefines the aggression and prowess of this giddy vehicle.
Step inside the RC F’s well-crafted interior and you’ll feel more like an aviator in the technologically-laden cockpit than a Lexus customer. The console is segmented into layers and uses flush buttons and controls for operation. This design element requires some getting used to for sure. Some will love it and others will not. For example, a haptic Remote Touchpad operates similarly to a MacBook trackpad and requires concentration for inputs. Adaptable settings from the transmission’s Drive Mode Select can be set in ECO, NORMAL, SPORT S, SPORT S+ and M (manual) modes for your driving style of choice. Athletic seats with serious side bolsters, a multifunction steering wheel, wide, metal pedals, carbon fiber trimmings and Adaptive Meters within the instrument cluster such as a Lap Timer fulfill the motorsports experience.
With a 90% male target for the $62,400 RC F, Lexus has created a package seemingly meeting the demands of this auto segment’s persona. And just when you thought they had reached enlightenment with the RC F, another level of aspiration will soon be introduced to a niche group of believers dubbed the RC F GT3. Are you ready for its powerful impact? We are!