High-performance Lexus models are a rare sight on British roads. In fact, since the upmarket brand made its debut over a quarter of a century ago, it has only offered two go-faster flagships – the IS F saloon and the LFA supercar.
However, that figure is set to double in 2015, with the arrival of the souped-up GS F four-door and this, the RC F coupe. We’ve already sampled the muscular two-door car on smooth and flowing Spanish roads; now we put it to the test on tougher British tarmac.
At the heart of the RC F’s driving experience is its naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8, which produces 471bhp – 46bhp more than a BMW M4 – and a typically bellowing soundtrack. Combined with a reasonably slick eight-speed automatic box, it allows the Lexus to blast from 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds. Yet it never feels as fast as the figures suggest.
Peak torque isn’t delivered until 4,800rpm, meaning the RC F is a little lethargic at lower speeds – it’s certainly not as potent as the turbocharged M4. Acceleration is further blunted by the hefty 1,765kg kerbweight. Let the revs rise beyond 5,000rpm, however, and the coupe really begins to fly.
Given its heavyweight build, the Lexus feels remarkably composed through a series of corners. The steering is naturally weighted and precise, body movement is well contained and there’s plenty of grip, too. Only in fast changes of direction and under heavy braking do you become aware of the car’s bulk. Our test car was fitted with the optional torque vectoring diff, which shuffles power between the rear wheels to boost agility.
It works well in Normal and Track modes, but the turn-in felt artificially aggressive in the Slalom setting. Unlike rivals, the RC F isn’t available with adaptive dampers, so it suffers from a firm low-speed ride. Ridges and potholes send a shudder through the cabin, while the car fidgets on motorways.
The racy theme is present inside, where you’ll find a pair of figure-hugging, high-backed seats, a chunky three-spoke steering wheel and an all-new TFT display for the driver. This neat set-up features a large central rev counter that changes its look depending on whether you’re in the Eco, Normal, Sport S or Sport+ driving mode. There’s also a screen that can be configured to display anything from the sat-nav guidance to your cornering G-forces.
The aggressive external design cues, such as the fake bonnet vent, bulging wheelarches and tailgate spoiler, do come as a bit of a surprise, though. But our car’s bright-orange Solar Flare paint added to the RC F’s kerb appeal.
Elsewhere you’ll find a decent 366-litre boot and plenty of handy storage – although the rear seats are cramped. There’s also a lengthy list of standard kit that includes sat-nav, LED headlamps, a 10 speaker stereo and a whole suite of safety features. Go for the flagship £67,995 Carbon model and you’ll get the torque vectoring differential as standard, plus a carbon fibre roof, bonnet and tailgate spoiler.
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