Muscle car’s surprising feature

1. This is an unlikely hero

Hands up who thought Japan would keep the good old V8 alive this long? The brand's high-performance trio - RC F "racing coupe", GS F sedan and slinky LC 500 - are powered by a big, free-breathing 5.0-litre V8. Meanwhile, BMW and Audi dumped eight cylinders for boosted sixes in RC F rivals and Mercedes-AMG put a much smaller turbo V8 in its C63. Among several other V8s on sale, there is Ford's popular Mustang but even the blue oval ditched V8 power for its flagship Ford GT performance car and range-topping F-150 Raptor ute in the US. In the RC F, Lexus - hailing from a land renowned for its love of technology - flies the V8 flag as high as any other marque.

The Lexus RC-F is one of the few remaining cars that have a naturally-aspirated V8 engine.
The Lexus RC-F is one of the few remaining cars that have a naturally-aspirated V8 engine.

2. It costs less than before

Fresher European rivals prompted Lexus to update the RC F and snip $3600 from the price. On sale from $134,129 plus on-roads (about $144,000 drive-away), the Lexus undercuts the BMW M4, Audi RS5 by a handy margin - and the Mercedes-AMG C63 by about $25,000. Not that you would know it given the level of standard equipment, including the thumping 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio and comprehensive safety suite with autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control, eight airbags and lane departure warning with steering assistance. Satnav, leather trim and dual-zone climate control should be taken for granted at this price point. It gets five stars, eight airbags, AEB, active cruise, lane keeping assistance and more.

The RC-F is far cheaper than some of its German rivals.
The RC-F is far cheaper than some of its German rivals.

3. You can "Experience Amazing". Sometimes

Lexus pitches a holistic experience with a fuss-free buying and ownership of its well-sorted cars. Quality is everywhere you look, from near-flawless paint to a beautifully finished cabin with supportive seats and comfortable ergonomics to remind you this coupe is a special car. But the 10.3-inch infotainment set-up falls a long way short of amazing. Less than intuitive to comprehend, with a tricky touchpad that demands a delicate touch, it's nowhere near best in class.

Like old-school muscle cars the RC F’s exhaust note is a highlight.
Like old-school muscle cars the RC F’s exhaust note is a highlight.

4. It's Japan's muscle car

As in a Mustang or Camaro, the highlight here is a smooth and sonorous V8 equally at home in day-to-day traffic or a back roads blast. Delivering a measured exhaust note while serving up handy outputs (351kW/530Nm), the Lexus isn't the fastest or loudest car on the road but its punch is accompanied by a tune to make most rivals sound forgettable. Heavier than the likes of the M4, the Lexus brings a more relaxed disposition with meaty steering and a conventional auto (as opposed to a snappy dual-clutch) with revised calibration to make it a smarter bet in everyday driving. Claimed thirst is 11.2L/100km.

5. More if you want

Lexus turned the RC F up a notch this year with a new Track Edition, priced at a $20K premium. It adds Brembo carbon ceramic brakes, lightweight BBS wheels, titanium exhaust, red interior trim and carbon-fibre bonnet, roof, diffuser and rear wing. Who saw that coming?


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