Lexus RC F Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Tuesday 21st March


What is it like to drive?

Be warned: the new RC F comes with MODES. Lots of them. There’s a round knob in the middle that switches between Normal (which is, erm, normal), Eco (again, pretty self-explanatory), Sport S, Sport S+ and Snow. Sport S changes the dial readout, changes down gears during hard braking, and holds onto them for longer. Sport S+ goes further with even quicker shifts, more steering weight, and activates the Sport mode in the VDIM – Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management – system.

Ah yes, VDIM. There are four modes for that, too – Normal, Sport, Off and Expert – while the torque vectoring diff itself has three modes (standard, slalom and track). Basically, you can adjust the thing to your heart’s content. Though… there’s no great difference between the hardest ones.

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On the road – which is likely where the majority of RC F buyers will use it – it’s a docile, supple and compliant thing to drive when your hair’s not on fire. The driving position is spot on, view outside good, it’s well damped and doesn’t bounce you all over the road. There’s no indication that a 5.0-litre V8 lies in wait up front. Indeed, during sedate driving, the engine runs on a more economical cycle than when driving as though you’re in a movie chase scene. You could look at it in a more cynical way – why pay so much for a V8 if you can’t tell you’re in a V8?

Moving on. Dial it up through the modes and – on a fast road – it’s accurate, stable and rewarding. There’s no great information dump from the steering but it’s sharp enough, there’s a good amount of grip (less so if you loosen off the shackles, but best do that on track), and progress is swift, if not the banzai rapidness of its turbocharged rivals. Can feel its weight, too – at 1,715kg, it’s on the heavier side of this class.

And that is likely to polarise your view on the RC F. Yes, there’s nothing at low revs, but keep it in the right gear and that engine singing above 4,000rpm, and it accelerates cleanly, accurately and to a delightful soundtrack. There’s fun to be had in repeatedly redlining the RC F, because it sounds so old-school. It’s a high-pitched, more frenzied note than, say, the old nat-asp 6.2-litre V8 AMG used to put in previous C63s.

To the polarising bit, then – the M4 and C63 are both rabid dogs in comparison. 0-62mph – even with launch control – takes 4.3s in the RC F, which is the same as the BMW M4, but three tenths down on the non-S C63. In gear however, the German duo’s turbocharged plants would sprint cleanly off into the distance; their power more deployable, more of the time.

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The gearbox isn’t up to scratch with the very best this very talented class has to offer either, slurring a little too much for something so powerful and pointy. Everything feels a little… last generation.

Think of it more along the lines of a Japanese muscle car – something you choose because you want a Japanese muscle car, and not a point-and-squirt coupe, and it makes some sense. Got a lot of charm, this thing.

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