And no, he didn't need the translator for that one.
Missing the point?
It seems like Lexus is the only manufacturer who didn't get the email. You know, the one about turbochargers being the only way to deliver the power, the torque and the emissions targets? And for a brand created by Toyota, solely to keep the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz honest, it seems odd to choose a different direction at this point in history.
But, clicking through the paddles at 7,300rpm, this five-litre V8 is alive. It's not brutal, it's certainly not imbued with mid-range, but it IS fun. The figures don't lie, and 477hp is the most powerful Lexus V8 ever, and only the upcoming AMG C63 will trump that figure in class.
from low expectations, but the RC F is surprisingly easy to love. The flow from corner to corner is impressive in its delivery. The stratospheric top-end of that motor means you only ever desire the last 2,500rpm of the rev-counter. And the sequentially-driven gearbox, with its complete lack of block-shifting, works best with single shifts as close to the brick-wall rev-limiter as you dare to go. Keep it on the boil and the Lexus is one of the quickest coupes you could hope to pilot over a fast-paced A-road.
Flaws for thought
But if you let that pace drop, then prepare for incredible frustration. Picture the scene; you're in a queue of slow-moving traffic when a gap opens up. Suddenly the fuel-saving benefits of eighth gear are rendered unimportant. With no torque whatsoever below 5,000rpm, you want third gear right now. So you click that left paddle quicker than an eBay bid at 9pm on a Sunday night.
And over four seconds later, you'll have it. Four seconds. No kidding.
With an EU kerb weight of 1,840kg (that includes a 75kg driver), you could be forgiven for thinking that the porky RC F might not handle so well. But here lies the biggest surprise of the day. Despite cruising at Grandma pace in absolute comfort, the RC likes the corners. No, actually, it loves them. Despite the passive Sachs dampers being the only thing on the car without a mode button, they handle everything except for the smallest and sharpest of bumps with aplomb.
And the balance that was lacking in the IS F is finally here. Slight understeer will transform to fantastically proportional oversteer, purely with driver input. On road and on Ascari (see below), it's clear that Yaguchi and his team of motorsports-enthused followers have had free rein to create a car to please themselves, and not some focus group of middle-aged company car pilots. It's so nimble and so poised that it takes multiple laps of Ascari for the huge six-pot Brembos to finally wilt and remind you how much mass they're having to contain.
A special mention must be given to the optional active differential too, which is a first because it uses two actuators to route the power perfectly between the wheels operating at up to 1,000 times a second. Unlike rival systems, this enables full torque transfer as required in both acceleration and braking. Not only does it make the Lexus harder to unstick on the power, it also allows the car to dive into corners with an accuracy that will befuddle you. The sense of controlled rotation is downright spooky, the system dragging the rear axle towards the apex with amazing accuracy.
No middle ground
The Lexus does a lot of things really well. But it does nothing effortlessly. Slow cruising in total comfort might be possible and even enjoyable, but it's hard to resist the baser instincts. And if you do want to go fast, then it's down five gears (wait five seconds) and total commitment until it's time to cruise again.
The effortless mid-range point and squirt you might enjoy in an M4 is absolutely not here. With the Lexus it's either one thing or the other. You can swim with the shoal, or murder them all in one V8-powered frenzy.
Respect is due for the Lexus RC F. It might suit the more hardcore enthusiast, including both Yaguchi-san and those of a PH mindset, but it's certainly not a match for the accessible, everyday devastation offered up by the rivals. But in this context we'll celebrate that.
LEXUS RC F
Engine: 4,969cc V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 477@7,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 391@4,800-5,600rpm
Top speed: 168mph (limited)
Weight: 1,840kg (EU, including driver)
MPG: 26.2mpg (claimed)