Lexus unveils fast and furious Track Edition RC F

It looks more like something that's blasted sideways and smoking off the set of The Fast and the Furious rather than the latest luxury coupe from traditionally safe-and-sensible Japanese car maker Lexus.

Matte black wheels, a carbon fibre roof and carbon fibre bonnet provide a superb contrast to the clean white paintwork of our test car. And there's a suitably sizeable wing hanging off the boot – complete with subtle F carbon lettering on each end plate.

The vented bonnet, carbon side skirts and sizeable carbon rear wing complete the boy racer theme 

Fast tracking

But the Track Edition version of the RC F is about extending the repertoire of a brand that set new benchmarks for refinement and quality when it was launched in 1989.

It takes the aggressive looks of the RC coupe and blends them with some thinking of the only Lexus supercar, the LFA of 2011, for some more track-focused thinking.

It also leverages the already racy image of the regular RC, with its pinched nose dominated by the Lexus spindle grille.

Lift the featherweight carbon bonnet and there's an iridescent blue finish to the headers on top of the engine, one of many cool detail touches.

All of which is aimed to dial up the excitement for a car that helps define the evolving Lexus brand.

Traditional thinking

The 5.0-litre V8 is a proven unit and was a terrific engine when it first appeared in 2007. While it's been tickled and tweaked since then, it's starting to show its age.

Advertisement

Where rivals have adopted turbochargers for more grunt low in the rev range, the Lexus V8 does without.

So, while its 351kW power peak is in the hunt (Mercedes-AMG C63 S makes 375kW and the Audi RS5 makes 331kW), its 530Nm torque maximum is less enticing (the C63 makes 700Nm and the RS5 600Nm).

Take deep breaths

What it lacks in initial back-shoving oomph it makes up for with wonderfully direct responses to your right foot, the top end of the rev range coming to life.

It's particularly noticeable when accelerating between corners, the crispness guaranteeing pace.

The lack of turbos to muffle the exhaust also makes for a wonderful sound – provided you're prepared to rev it, because it's at higher revs that things get better.

Accelerate hard and there's an intoxicating snarl as though the car has bolted on another set of lungs. It only gets better – and louder – as you approach 7000rpm.

The sound is even sharper in the Track Edition courtesy of a titanium exhaust, which gets a cool blue tinge to it when hot.

Trim and terrific

While the engine itself is unchanged on peak outputs (351kW/530Nm) there have been improvements to its response courtesy of revised intake components.

The Track Edition is also aster than its regular brethren because it's shed 65kg – that's on top of the 15kg weight savings for the updated RC F, which now gets lighter suspension components.

There's also a launch control system, although it's not the full-blown, spin-the-wheels deal many modern launch systems are.

Instead it allows revs to build to about 1800rpm before taking off.

It helps in smartening the take-off, although it's nowhere near as effective as systems teamed to twin-clutch automatics, which allow much higher rev thresholds before it's all systems go.

Hardening up

Underneath, aluminium suspension components have been employed to save weight and increase stiffness.

Plus, it's running on track-ready Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, which deliver massive amounts of grip and contribute to the newfound sharpness.

Fluid steering and a surprisingly agile chassis mean you can throw it around for some classic rear-drive fun, safe in the knowledge things won't get out of hand courtesy of well-tuned stability control.

The Sport damper setting is a tad firm for everyday use, but you can bypass that with the Custom drive mode, which allows you to define your preferred parameters for the engine/transmission and suspension, as well as choosing between Normal or Eco settings for the air-conditioning.

Turn the sound down

The only thing that comes close to the sound of the V8 is the Mark Levinson sound system.

With 17 speakers punching it is one of the finest car sound systems ever created, punching out tight, deep bass and crisp, clear high notes. And it dishes up some serious volume, the quality never erring.

That there are almost none of the plastic rattles so common in cars when you turn the volume up is testament to the quality of the car it sits in.

Two steps forward…

There's the occasional oversight. The foot-operated park brake is old school daggy and the shiny chrome and black plastic mirror caps look out of place on a car dripping in carbon fibre.

The Lexus Remote Touchpad is a clumsy way to operate the infotainment functions within the 10.3-inch screen, its slide-and-push pad meaning you'll often shoot past whatever it is you're trying to select.

Not that it detracts from the big step up in driving excitement of the RC F Track Edition.

While the core hasn't changed, the tweaks done to weight, suspension, brakes and tyres have made a good car great.

What's even better is that track-focused specials can often feel hideously compromised on the road, but the RC F Track Edition makes the transition confidently with few compromises.

It's still liveable – and loveable – day to day, although its higher limits are screaming for the thrill of the race track. So don't go confining it to peak hour!

Price guide

Lexus has revised the pricing on the RC F, reducing the regular model a few grand to $134,129.

Parking the Track Edition in your driveway is a fair bit more, at $165,690.

Not cheap, but a worthy step up for those who appreciate some driving panache.

While it's likely in the twilight of its existence, the Track Edition is proof age hasn't wearied Lexus's slick coupe.