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CAR REVIEW: LEXUS RC F

Are sports cars all just about power and handling? Here’s one that proves not.

Lexus, Toyota’s premium arm, is hardly known for producing sports cars. It makes great, dependable luxury sedans that give German premium marques a run for their money. It’s probably easy to forget that the Japanese brand has a more sporting side. It has a tuning arm known as Lexus F that even the company calls the “other side of Lexus”.

The unit, which is a similar concept to BMW’s M, Mercedes-Benz’s AMG and Audi’s S and RS, was created to produce performance vehicles. It was responsible for building 500 manic, million-dollar LF-A supercars for the world. Lexus F also worked its magic on the IS sedan, which resulted in the souped-up IS F.

Since the SC coupe of the 1990s, Lexus has not had a coupe in its line-up since. The SC model became a hard-top convertible in the 2000s. After a decade of a coupe dearth, the new RC coupe marks the return of fun to the otherwise staid offerings by the carmaker.

The range-topping RC F is perhaps the most important variant of the line-up. It is the most powerful Lexus in production now, equipped with a 5-litre V8 engine that puts out 470 horsepower. It is proof that F is able to put fun into its cars (the F actually refers to Fuji Speedway, where the company tests its cars).

It rushes from standstill to the golden 100kmh mark in 4.5 seconds. On the roads, the well-tuned suspension offers great control without being too harsh, while the rightly weighted steering offers a just-adequate level of feedback. Such handling is expected of a car of this calibre (and price).

There are four drive modes to choose from: Eco, Normal, Sports S and Sports S+. This gives you the option to tweak the engine and transmission's behaviour, according to your driving mood.
There are four drive modes to choose from: Eco, Normal, Sports S and Sports S+. This gives you the option to tweak the engine and transmission’s behaviour, according to your driving mood.

But what’s more interesting is how the car reaches out to the driver by touching his senses – literally, in some areas. Take the entertainment system command dial, for example. Put your fingertip on it and slide it across the touchpad. When you want to select an option, you apply pressure with your finger and the surface vibrates, giving you the impression that you’ve pressed a real button. But you haven’t; it’s thanks to the haptic feedback. It’s the little touches like that that make this car feel special.

Another trick up the RC F’s sleeve is its engine and exhaust notes. You see, the cabin is extremely well-insulated. Unwanted noise is kept out as it should be. Job well done. But that also means the sound-deadening material has kept the very noise of the vehicle that creates emotions for motorheads. To overcome this problem, Lexus has employed the use of a sound system to amplify the intake and mechanical noise from the engine bay, piping it into the cabin. But it’s not just a mic and speaker – it’s a sophisticated system that measures vehicle speed, engine revs and throttle position to produce the right amount of noise to complement the intoxicating roar of the exhaust.

At low speeds, the sound is almost muted but, when the action gets going, the sound increases in both intensity and ferocity to deliver an exciting aural performance.

If experiencing G-force isn't enough for you, the RC F is equipped with an on-board G-metre to keep track of how hard you've been braking, accelerating, or going into corners. It's a fun way to see how far you can push the car before it starts protesting.
If experiencing G-force isn’t enough for you, the RC F is equipped with an on-board G-metre to keep track of how hard you’ve been braking, accelerating, or going into corners. It’s a fun way to see how far you can push the car before it starts protesting.

But more interesting is the visual treat that the RC F is. No, there’s no special-effect lighting in the cabin. I’m talking about the exterior design of this model. It starts from the aggressive front spindle grille – the most eye-catching in this quarter. It takes up almost the entire facade. If you stare hard enough, you’ll start to see the “F” motif on the black mesh.

Compared with the basic RC, this top-end model is wider, lower and longer, which gives the car a sportier stance. There is also a bump on the bonnet to hint at the powerful engine that lies within. The lines on the car flow sensuously, running from the front all the way to the rear. By itself, it’s almost like a piece of art.

The IS F had it first, and the idea somehow ended up on Ferrari's California. But Lexus F is claiming birthrights of the quad stacked tailpipe of the RC F.
The IS F had it first, and the idea somehow ended up on Ferrari’s California. But Lexus F is claiming birthrights of the quad stacked tailpipe of the RC F.

Then, coat it with five layers of blue paint known as Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0. The brilliant blue stands out in a sea of cars cruising downtown and accentuates all the sexy curves and sculpted lines in all the right ways. This coupe turns heads – in ways that even Ferrari and Lamborghini owners will envy.

Sports cars are set apart by how they perform at their limits – which no owner gets to experience on public roads. There are purer and more focused offerings in the marketplace, but it is the finer details like the ones seen on the RC F that make all the difference in setting you apart from the pack.