2015 Lexus RC F

The letter ‘F’ in the Lexus range refers to Mt Fuji as well as to the Fuji motor racing circuit that lurks in the shadows of the stunning volcano. Just as importantly to the revheads of the world the F indicates a car is one of the hotrods in the upmarket Japanese maker’s range.

Lexus RC 350 F competes head on with RS from Audi, M from BMW and AMG from Mercedes. The RC F is full-on semi-race machine aimed at serious drivers who enjoy pushing themselves to their limits during track days.

So it came as no surprise that Lexus invited a select group of motoring journalists to Mount Panorama, Bathurst for the official launch of the RC F. A blast around one of the world’s most famous tracks with a professional driver in the passenger seat to guide us around what is by far the scariest circuit in Australia.

Even better, 1980 Formula One World Champion Alan Jones, and four times Australian Rally Champion, Neal Bates were there to drive us around at seemingly breakneck speed to quickly douse any overblown opinions we journos might have about our driving ability…

Lexus RC F may have been able to steal a march on its big name European rivals – because it’s still powered by a naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engine, whereas the others are being pushed in the direction of turbocharged engines to meet stringent European emission regulations.

2015 Lexus RC F

No matter how good a turbo is it’s never going to have the same near-instantaneous throttle response offered by a nat-asp powerplant.

The Lexus V8 puts out 470 horsepower at 7100 revs (that’s 351 kW in Australian terms), and top torque is 4800 to 5600 rpm.

This is a stunning twin-cam V8 engine. It sounds quiet and peaceful in the typical Lexus way when pottering around town at low speeds and light throttle openings. But when you open the throttle hard and lift the revs to the upper regions it becomes a loud aggressive beast.

We loved the Lexus V8 as it thrashed its way up through the gears to hit over 260 km/h down Conrod Straight, and as trimmed the swooping downhill bends off Skyline.

Lexus is keen to point out the RC series is designed from the ground up as a two-door sports coupe, it’s not a sedan modified by the removal of the back doors. The F differs from the others in the RC range by being wider, thanks to pumped guards front and rear; lower, due to uprated sports suspension; and longer because of the big frontal splitter and revisions to the tail.

2015 Lexus RC F interior

This Japanese sports coupe certainly looks the part, even more so when painted up as the Safety Car for the upcoming V8Supercar season. Lexus is very keen to be seen as more than a maker of smooth luxury cars and SUVs, it want to be very much part of motorsport action as well.

There have been ongoing talks between the V8Supercar promoters and Lexus about the possibility of the Japanese company fielding race cars. The GT3 series is also understood to be on Lexus’ radar, and the 12-hour Bathurst is another contender. Time will tell who, if anyone gets the nod on this. Stay in touch.

Other makers are right into big-grille designs at the moment – Lexus is taking this to new extremes, going for what you might like to call a ‘huge-grille theme’. We find it a little overpowering in the standard RC range, but it works a treat in the RC F.

Inside there’s an immediate feeling of a sporting design in high quality materials, with cues to the Lexus LFA supercar. The instruments are housed in a binnacle. They are electronic with different displays that can be changed depending on the driver’s needs.

Steering is excellent. Feel and feedback are spot on and it will be interesting to see how many owners take part in track days. This Lexus really is far more than a sporty road car and we would love to see keen drivers blasting around circuits to really enjoy the full scope of their car.

The front seats have bolsters that provide plenty of side support and comfort is good – for a sportscar. Lexus RC F coped well with the road drive we embarked on after leaving Mt Panorama, but there’s no doubt it leans in the direction of sports in the eternal comfort vs sports equation.

The Lexus RS F coupe is on sale now priced at $133,500 for the standard model and $147,500 for the RC F Carbon which adds a lightweight carbon-fibre active rear wing, bonnet, roof panel and interior trim as well as alcantara seat fabric. Note that these prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Lexus dealer for drive-away prices.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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