It can’t be easy being in charge of Lexus’ performance arm. Over the past couple of decades, the company’s line-up of non-F pedestrian mobiles has consisted of (LFA aside) wafty saloons, wafty SUVs and, more recently, wafty coupes. But it’s clear that those in charge at the almighty F are proper petrolheads, fitting massive V8s to barges of all shapes and sizes, and giving them a damn good spanking on the Nurburgring for the performance car seal of the approval.
And yet, those adorned with the big F aren’t exactly BMW M beaters, nor are they intended to be. It’s all about effortless performance while retaining the key features you come to expect from Lexus, such as a pillowy ride and good old Japanese refinement. All makes sense, right? Well, sometimes Lexus serves something up that has us scratching our heads. A bit like the RC F Carbon.
At first blush, the Carbon seems like a four-wheeled contradiction. Take a two-door coupe known for its cruising capabilities and slap on a carbon fibre bonnet, roof and boot spoiler for the ultimate road-racer look. Admittedly, it didn’t save a huge amount of weight. The Carbon is only 15kg lighter than a standard RC F, which itself is a tad on the portly side at 1,780kg – minus the driver.
Let’s not forget that the RC F was actually a far more serious car than Clarkson’s rather blunt TG review suggested. The regular RC F came bundled in with Sachs dampers and Brembo brakes, while the Carbon edition was equipped with a torque vectoring differential with a trio of settings at no additional cost. Lexus proudly claimed that it was the first of its kind to feature in a front-engined, rear-wheel drive car – a tenuous stat, for sure, but something to bring up with your mates at the pub when they inevitably bring up its German rivals.
The example we have here walks the line between track car and luxo coupe perfectly. The Messa Red Metallic contrasts beautifully with the carbon body panels and brings out the RC F’s sportier side. Power remained unchanged on the Carbon models, so this example gets the same 477hp 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 as the standard RC F and is good for a 0-62 dash in 4.5 seconds. Even by today’s standards, that’s pretty brisk. It’s not just a motorway bruiser, either, as that torque vectoring diff meant the RC F could get the power down nice and early coming out of corners.
Prices have remained rock solid since its launch six years ago. Values for hot Lexuses (not a euphemism) typically plummet during the first 12 months of ownership and then, somehow, level off for all eternity. The car we have here comes in at £41,995, a mighty drop on the original £67,995 sticker price but still a fair chunk more than a non-Comp M4 and non-S C63. If anything, prices have gone up since we last featured a low-mileage RC F Carbon a couple of years ago.
A tough sell on the surface, then, but Lexus is known for its rock-solid reliability and build quality, and the same applies to its F cars. So while running costs will be on the high side, even with the recent dip in fuel prices, it’s unlikely you’ll be handed an eye watering bill at the next major service – especially as there are only 8,000 miles on the clock. If anything, it could be the most worry-free performance V8 on the market. Possibly.
SPECIFICATION | LEXUS RC F CARBON
Engine: 4,969cc, V8
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 477@7,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 391@4,800-5,600rpm
Year registered: 2016
Recorded mileage: 8,000
Price new: £67,995
Yours for: £41,995
1 / 8