Will Exclusivity And Track-Honed Updates Justify The Lexus RC F Track Edition’s $97k Pricing?
The Lexus RC F has carved out a name for itself by being a bit different from the crowd, that crowd being the turbocharged German opposition that has dominated this lucrative segment for decades. By not challenging rivals like the BMW M4 and Mercedes C63 S head-on, the RC F has managed to focus on its differences, like that superb naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8, rather than risk embarrassment by releasing a Bavarian clone that might fall short in some crucial area.
The resultant experience is different, if not exactly better. The RC F’s rather portly curb weight gives it more fluidity down a bumpy stretch of road, although at the expense of on-the-limit sharpness, while its 8-speed automatic transmission (not the ZF ‘box found in most everything else these days) is smooth and quick without being as aggressive as the dual-clutch units found in some rivals. The rev-happy V8 is lag-free and a joy to wring out, but once again it won’t deliver that massive mid-range torque that the forced-induction opposition do.
The chassis is balanced and there is little wrong with how it covers ground along a challenging stretch of your favorite road; the overall impression you get is a vehicle that is happier as a quick grand tourer than an out-and-out sports car. It may come as a bit of a surprise, then, that for 2020 Lexus has released the limited-run RC F Track Edition, a lighter, more aggressive variant of the standard car that is a direct competitor to the Germans and a few very capable Japanese rivals too. The revitalized RC F Track Edition now makes 472hp and 396lb-ft of torque, an increase of 5hp and 6lb-ft, while weight is down by a substantial 176lb thanks to the liberal use of carbon fiber both inside and out. Carbon-ceramic brakes replace the steel rotors, while aiding downforce are a front splitter and huge carbon-fiber rear wing.
The changes have been influenced by the knowledge Lexus has gleaned from competing in various race-series over the years and the lighter weight also pays dividends in straight-line pace, the 60mph sprint now dipping under 4-seconds with the aid of the now standard launch control system. Only 60 Track Editions are planned for the 2020 model year, 40 white and 20 matte gray. Pricing for the standard RC-F is a competitive $65,775 including destination fee but the Track Edition is an altogether more serious $97,675. That puts it up against the BMW M4 CS, as well as the ageing but brilliant Nissan GT-R; whether the Lexus’s exclusivity, sharpened handling characteristics and more modern interior are enough to sway customers away from these default choices remains to be seen.
Images courtesy of Lexus