Okay – so despite the name, I didn’t take this one to the track. I would have loved to have had the opportunity, and hopefully will get the chance someday, but it wasn’t in the cards this time.
Second caveat is that my test was for just three days as opposed to the usual week. Interest in this car among auto journalists, as you might imagine, is high so Toyota PR shortened the loan period to accommodate more bookings.
That said, I squeezed a fair bit of driving (324 km) into my three-day stint, which provided enough time to collect some impressions, which I’ll dispense with shortly.
The RC F Track Edition is an option package overlaid onto the base car and consists primarily of light-weighting and cosmetic options. Read: lots of carbon fibre.
I’ll get to the add-ons, but let’s reset the RC F lineup for 2021. With the option packages, Lexus Canada has created three models: Base, Performance Package and Track Edition. Each adds extra kit, with the latter receiving more than the rest. All models are built on a shared platform with the IS sedan (and the now departed GS), that are powered by a 5.0-litre V8 (472 hp / 395 lb-ft) that drives the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Now, lest you think the base-level RC F ($85,000) is a bit of a stripper car, think again. Among its standard performance goodies are 19-inch forged alloy wheels, SACHS shock absorbers and active rear wing. Interior features include heated and ventilated front seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, moonroof and a 10-speaker audio system.
But say you want more and don’t mind shelling out for it. No problem – your Lexus retailer can step you up into the Performance Package grade ($96,000) which brings enhancements such as 19-inch polished alloy wheels, carbon fibre roof, active rear wing and a torque vectoring differential system. The moonroof is deleted to make way for a fixed carbon fibre dome, but the stereo gets an upgrade to a 17-speaker Mark Levinson unit.
If you want the Full Monty, the Track Edition awaits. For an extra $35,000 ($120,450 MSRP), Lexus empties its performance parts bin. Among its many upgrades are Brembo carbon ceramic brakes with painted red calipers, 19-inch forged ultra-lightweight BBS alloy wheels, carbon fibre body panels (hood, roof) and aero kit and a titanium muffler.
Staying true to the notion of being track-ready, Lexus has also removed some equipment to reduce the Track Edition’s weight. In addition to lighter body panels and wheels, the heating and ventilating modules for the front seats have been removed, along with the power unit for the tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Rain sensing wipers have also been deleted. The other notable cabin change is a red Alcantara interior which is unique to the Track Edition.
In sum, the Track Edition’s light-weighting efforts shave 80 kilograms (176 pounds) off its curb weight, making it the lightest model in the RC F range.
All the performance kit makes for quite a bad ass looking car too, I must say. Lexus figures owners of such a car won’t mind advertising its track bonafides, and with a large wing spoiler, carbon fibre body panels and bright red brake calipers, there’s a zero per cent chance this car won’t turn heads. If you own one, be prepared to engage strangers in conversation about it. And, yes, it will attract stop light aggression from others who will feel the need to defend their honour against a car that, let’s be honest, looks a bit like a Batmobile.
I resisted the urge because I don’t engage in such shenanigans on public roads (or on track for that matter), but older cars, even those without any performance pedigree, will want a go. One would be wise to decline such entreaties and take this car directly to a local track for some spirited, and safe, fun.
Disclaimers aside, plenty of fun can be had in the RC F Track Edition on public roads. The ride in sport and sport plus is achingly stiff, as one might imagine, but in normal, its ride is acceptable on all but the roughest pavement. Road noise is well insulated, but some engine / exhaust noise filters in, which is in keeping with the car’s performance aesthetic.
In terms of the driving character, the braking, steering and general handling are all knife edge, and really demand a closed course for a proper thrashing. So yes, panic stops, and evasive maneuvering capabilities are greater here than with an average performance car.
As for the 5.0-litre V8, it provides decent acceleration, but didn’t thrust me into the seatback unless I really stomped on the accelerator. It’s a naturally aspirated unit, so there’s no on-rushing feel of thrust from forced induction to slingshot the car forward. Instead, power delivery is much more linear, with peak torque not coming in until 4,800 r.p.m. The car is still plenty fast from rest, but I didn’t get a strong sense of power output unless I really mashed the gas, which I did only sparingly on public roads.
The freedom of a closed course with long straights and sweeping corners would be great outlet for this powertrain. It’s also the best location to get the most out of carbon ceramic brakes and carbon fibre aero packages, I might add.
In sum, it was a fun three days. I’m a little bummed there was no track component for my test, but it was an enjoyable experience all the same. I’m not usually a fan of screaming red interiors, as they’re a little too much for my senses, usually, but I like the Track Edition’s Alcantara’s mix of deep red and black. The seats are very comfortable, and the digital displays look great and operate with smooth efficiency. I especially like the instrument cluster graphical changes that occur as the drive mode selector from normal to sport and sport plus.
Bottom line, despite its hefty price tag, the RC F Track Edition feels like a bit of a performance bargain when compared to alternatives, particularly those of the German variety. Not perhaps what one would expect from Lexus, perhaps, but a car that delivers the goods all the same.
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.