Lexus (NYSE:TM) made waves when it produced the LFA, a gratuitously powerful and well-calculated supercar that naturally went for a very supercar price of about $375,000. Overall, the LFA — and its delightful engine note — was well received, and its V10, which supposedly revs so fast that it requires a digital tachometer to keep up, and Nürburgring-engineered handling showed the world that Lexus had what it took to be a competitive player in the super high-performance leagues.
That being said, the LFA was well out of reach for the majority of the population, and it was made more exclusive still by its limited production run. With that thought reverberating in their heads, Lexus engineers set out to create a more pedestrian performance car, and the results of their efforts were revealed on Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The Lexus RC F is the higher-performance model of the Lexus RC Coupe, and once you look past its polarizing — though admittedly gaping — front grille setup, Lexus created what will become a truly competitive high performance coupe, at least on paper.
The new Lexus design language has its fans and also its critics, most of whom have been quite vocal about the hourglass shape and angular lines that the company has applied to much of its lineup. Love it or hate it, it’s what’s nestled behind the grille that really matters in this case. The RC F packs a new 5-liter V8, which will reportedly pump out in excess of 450 horsepower and more than 383 pound-feet of torque. This power will be run through — in a first for Lexus — a torque vectoring differential.
Naturally, Lexus engineers couldn’t just plant a 5-liter V8 inside the car and call it a day without having some fun. Apparently, the RC F can run on the more fuel-efficient Atkinson cycle when it’s not being hammered through turns or down a straight, but when it is going through those motions, the RC F will convert back to the more conventional Otto cycle to offer its full potential.
To ensure all the power is used effectively, the RC F takes advantage of one of Lexus’ strong suits: a healthy dosage of aerodynamic features, with all kinds of clever inclusions to help improve handling. “The RC F takes design cues from the Lexus LFA supercar, especially in essential air cooling and aerodynamics,” a company press release reads. “Its hood air vent, such as those on the LFA, combined with front cooling ducts contribute to engine cooling and overall vehicle stability.”
Around the back, the RC F features the quad-exhaust setup that first made an appearance on the earlier IS F, Lexus’ high-performance sedan. The car’s C pillars flow nicely from the roofline onto a set of muscular-looking haunches, which straddle a set of 19-inch wheels.
“As in the LFA, an active rear spoiler is incorporated into the trunk lid to provide down force at speeds of more than 50 [miles per hour],” Lexus said in its release. “The active spoiler is a highlight of RC F’s aerodynamic package which includes careful tuning of the underbody, the intakes in the grille and the front fender vents, and strategic placement of the aero stabilizing fins.”
Despite its being rather visually controversial, the RC F represents a big step for Lexus in a segment that it has not really competed in before. The IS F was certainly a quality car, but seemed to leave some uncertainties as to whether it could effectively shake the BMW M3′s performance sedan empire. However, the RC F leaves little doubt in the mind that the new M4 will be facing a viable threat from Japan.