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Lexus RC F review – brilliantly different from the establishment

Will Beaumont
10 Jan 2018
Verdict:

The RC F feels unlike its European rivals, but not always better

Evo Rating: 
Price: 
£61,310
For 
Refreshingly different, beautifully controllable engine, well-balanced chassis
Against 
Too heavy, only at its best in the right driving mode, engine not as exciting at its top end as you might hope
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Ride and handling

The controllable engine that allows you to be precise with the amount of power that you deploy is let down by a chassis that’s doesn’t feel particularly lithe or agile. In slow corners the steering feels slow, the car feels big and, initially, it’s rather cumbersome.

Low speed ride from the fixed-rate dampers is a little edgy, too. As the speed rises, over 40-50mph, the suspension seems to find its range and it begins to flow down a road in a more dignified manner than your first impressions suggested it ever could. That same fluidity is maintained through longer, wider corners, the RC F settling onto a well-supported outer rear corner and the throttle allowing just a slight influence over the car’s attitude. With the engine playing a part in creating some yaw angle, the lazy steering seems less of an issue.

When travelling at higher speeds you need to be careful of big undulations and crests that can cause the heavy Lexus to fall out of sync with the road; the dampers struggle to deal with too many big inputs and you have to slow your pace to allow the RC F’s chassis to catch up.

The Lexus’s assured high speed stride rejuvenates your confidence in the car, so when you’re confronted with a series of tighter, technical bends you’re able to overcome the car’s slow reactions with a bit of commitment. This unlocks impressive front end grip, but you have to rely on that rather than feel it as the steering communicates very little.

If you want to exploit the engine’s top-end power and the super-accurate control it grants you in slower corners you’ll need to choose the correct settings and mode to free the car. First you’ll also need to set the stability control to Expert with a long press of the traction control button after selecting Sport+ from the main driving modes, of which there are four: Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+. Now you’re let loose without any interference from the car, no safety net to save you if you’re too enthusiastic. You then need to set the TVD (Torque Vectoring Differential) by choosing between Standard, Slalom and Track modes.

We’ve only driven RC Fs with the optional TVD differential. The first two modes are frustrating; the diff takes its time to engage and allows the inside rear wheel to spin and saps away at your momentum. On the occasions it does lock, it then tries to quell any slide before you’ve had chance to enjoy it or react to it. It’s the final, most focused Track setting that provides the most natural feeling set-up, with the diff engaging as soon as you touch the throttle and staying locked as you dictate your angle of slide with the throttle. It can easily be kept small and tidy or large and boisterous depending on how much throttle you choose to use.

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