Aerodynamics are vital in a high-performance car and Lexus RC F stands out for its visual aggression

Aerodynamics are vital in a high-performance car and Lexus RC F stands out for its visual aggression

Committed to being seen as a maker of high-performance cars, not simply silent saloons, Lexus has unveiled the hot version of its new RC coupe at the Detroit motor show. Lexus RC F will be aimed solidly at the Audi RS series, BMW M cars and Mercedes AMG mid-size models when it’s launched towards the end of 2014.

Though based on the all-new Lexus RC coupe, there’s no surprise that the RC F coupe takes many of its styling cues from the Lexus LFA supercar.

The RC F has its own take on the now familiar Lexus signature spindle grille, it has a subtle ‘F’ motif embedded in the mesh below the Lexus symbol, though you wouldn’t exactly describe the size and shape of the grille as being subtle.

The bonnet has been redesigned, with a strong shape culminating in air outlets to assist cooling. There’s a big emphasis on aerodynamics over and under the body. Front-quarter ducts in the shape of an L (for Lexus) are a standout feature.

Downforce is increased by an active rear wing incorporated into the bootlid, it begins to work at 80 km/h, so even speed restricted Aussie owners will be able to get some benefit from it.

We couldn’t resist passing on this crazed example of marketing hyperbole, “The all-new high back seats have been designed to resemble the look of tight-fitting athletic sportswear to support and cosset occupants.” So, now you know!

Lexus RC F uses a 5.0-litre V8 powerplant. Engine design is presumably still in its final stages, so all Lexus is saying at this stage is ‘power well above 330 kW and more than 520Nm of torque’. We feel the engineers are trying to squeeze at least 450 horsepower out of the engine as 330 kilowatts translates to 442 hp.

Power is taken to the rear wheels through an eight-speed transmission with Sports Direct Shift.

Cleverly, Lexus has developed a Torque Vectoring Differential (TVD). That type of diff has been previously used by other marques for high-performance front-drive cars – where big torque can be a real problem. The use of it in an FR (front-engine rear-drive) car is claimed by Lexus to be a first.

Lexus RC F’s chief engineers, Yukihiko Yaguchi, explained, “I’ve built RC F to be enjoyed by all enthusiasts – no matter what their level of expertise.

“There’s a misnomer that racing cars are hard to drive. In fact, they’re easy in the right hands because they’ve been purpose-built for the skill level of their drivers. It’s the same with RC F.

“Electronics can be modified instantly on board to provide appropriate levels of performance and protection. But even at its basic setting, it’s a blast.”

In its Standard setting the electronic differential provides a balance of nimble performance and stability. The Slalom is self explanatory and aimed at the most nimble steering response. Choosing Track sets the Lexus RC F up for consistent, stable behaviour, ensuring the vehicle stays on the intended corning line as the driver applies more throttle.

Borrowing technology from its hybrid models, the Lexus RC F uses the Atkinson cycle at cruising speeds for lower fuel consumption, but them reverts to a conventional Otto cycle at higher revs to develop impressive performance levels.

To maximise aural pleasure Lexus has developed a system that regulates induction and exhaust sound to help create a deep tone up to 3000rpm, and a higher-pitched tone as revs rise above 6000rpm. Sounds like the best of both worlds to us, if you excuse a crook pun.

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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