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At xBhp, we always strive to do things differently. Yes, we are petrolheads and motorheads but we are artists too. That is why with every article, every experience of a vehicle, we try to bring it to you with a flavour of uniqueness. But sometimes, that pursuit leaves us perplexed. That very thing happened when we got our hands on a Lexus RC F. We looked at it and wondered, “What to do with that?” Then came an idea.
Before the mountain pass racing and drifting culture came to be known by flashy neon lights, skimpy clothes, weirdly catchy music, and, Americans, of course, it was known by something much simpler and way more effective. Initial-D, a name so popular that after its start with a Manga, it spawned an anime series and even a live-action film!
Not all of us are big on anime but InitialD offers more than a few reasons to love it. The most obvious one is its automotive connection. Then there’s the old-school Nintendo-ish music, the technical correctness and authenticity. And last but not the least, the story.
It is a regular underdog story. But the essence is in the fact that a regular kid who drives his regular car every day, relentlessly, is better than pros in their flashy high-end cars. Interesting? Absolutely. Inspirational? We are kinda recreating it, aren’t we?
About the recreation, the original had serpentine roads in the mountains. We have those too. The protagonist’s driving was centred around Tofu. We have paneer. But a car like Toyota AE86 Sprinter Trueno or Hachi-Roku? That’s a tough nut to crack. But the Lexus RC F and all we know and got to know about, sort of makes it fit the occasion. Why?
527 Nm of torque means grunt. Rear-wheel-drive means sideways fun. A spoiler and a carbon-fibre hood mean a lot of Japanese Tuner culture reference. And Lexus? Well, it is much closer to Toyota than we think it is. But xBhp’s first love will always be motorcycles and we never make do without one. So let us tell you about another Japanese Shinshi who’s joining us. ZX-10R Ninja-san. We’d like music at this point but you’ll have to imagine it.
Let’s start with the looks. The Lexus RC F looks a little confusing. On the front, the headlights look beautiful and so do the sharp DRLs. The problem is that they look a little small and as a result, a bit disproportionate. It is further accentuated but the beautifully sculpted signature Lexus grille. It does not feel that way if you look at it dead-on but any other angle, it’s apparent.
We think the fault lies with the bulging hood and the accompanying wheel arches. The carbon fibre hood looks really cool and the same goes for the scoop. This colour also really brings out the sheen of the carbon fibre which is there on the roof too. We just wish the front was a little sleeker to go with the headlights.
Fortunately, that is the only issue and that too, dependent on personal preference. Apart from that, the Lexus RC F is surely a looker. The side profile is beautiful with the design lines complementing the coupe roofline really well. The wheels are a piece of art and they belong in an art gallery. They’re that beautiful.
Towards the rear as well, this car is a sight to behold. The lip on the trunk is a delight to look at from the side and the taillight also follows a sharp and confident design theme. But the mufflers take the cake here. Four pipes, two on either side, stacked on top of each other but slightly offset. The speed activated spoiler is also a thing of beauty but one that you’ll only be able to behold if you can catch up.
Let’s talk a little more about the design and Lexus’ philosophy here. First, there is the F philosophy. It is all about sportiness and making cars that are not reliant on ‘big numbers’ alone. It is more about evoking emotions when the car is being driven… hard! Then, there’s the Takumi craftsmanship which is responsible for every Lexus being, well, Lexus.
There is a reason why Lexus cars feature one the best fit and finish be it the exterior or the interior. There is a reason why Lexus cars have one of the best reliability ratings in the industry. There is a reason why you can perceive all that even in brief glances. Takumi is Japanese for an artisan but it is much more.
While it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert, Lexus states that it takes 60,000 to become a Takumi master. That’s… superhuman. But then, Takumi craftsmanship is the reason why Lexus cars are being held in such high regard. And the F philosophy is what lends the sportiness and the intent to the F series cars such as the Lexus RC F.
We were beyond impressed with the attention to detail and the finesse with which Lexus makes their cars. Even something as insignificant as the operation of the door handle or closing the doors feels like a rich and premium experience. The Lexus RC F may be a sports car but it is a Lexus too and it shows on the inside.
The Lexus LFA is widely regarded as an almost Legendary supercar. Engine, performance, handling, track cred, it had it all. But despite that, it had an interior one could live with and be happy in. The same goes for the Lexus RC F. Despite its sporty intentions and track-developed focus, it is still a car that can teach you a thing or two about opulence.
The cabin is roomy and lined with Alcantara, premium leather, and carbon fibre. Yes, there are seats at the back but it is not meant for humans. It is a coupe, and that’s a given so better leave it for stuff that you just bought and people you don’t like. The boot is a bit tricky too. But hey, those things aren’t meant to define cars like the Lexus RC F.
Keep your focus on the front and everything feels as premium as it can get. The car is also loaded with tech. A huge infotainment touchscreen, Bluetooth and so on. There’s a power moonroof too and the list just goes on. The point is, this car can easily pass off as a luxury sedan if you drive yourself and have one passenger at the most. There’s even an analogue clock in the centre of the dash. Touché.
While those things and the craftsmanship that is needed to execute them are exemplary, they aren’t the best things about the interior. That honour goes to the driver’s seat. The Lexus RC F has the best seats we have ever sat in… ever. Why?
Not because they are heated, ventilated and extremely comfy. Not because this car has a kickass music system (again, one of the best) and the seat is the perfect place to sit and listen to songs. It is none of that. The seat is just very… natural. Very organic. The seating position, the reach to the steering and the feeling of a racing bucket seat. It just feels like a proper driver’s seat and that… is awesome.
Push the starter and you realize that Lexus also makes silky-smooth engines. Silky smooth and high-revving. The internet is full of Lexus LFA’s engine which is also known to produce perhaps the best automotive sound. The Lexus RC F has a 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8 that can rev up to 7,300 rpm.
Blip it and you realize that while it is not in the league of the LFA (we think nothing can be), it still sounds really, really good. It has a sort of duality to it. In the lower-revs, there’s a murmur. A little bit of a foreword. Rev it up to the redline and it is a proper raspy growler. Refined, smooth, and not too loud. But a growler.
467 bhp of power and 527 Nm of torque are no joke. 0-100 km/h in 4.4 seconds and a top speed 270 km/h isn’t one either. This is a serious car and if you put your foot down, it shows. The acceleration is a revelation because all the time you spend admiring the interior and the sound of the engine made you forget that this is a serious car!
The 8-speed Sport Direct Shift Sequential Transmission with Manual Mode and Paddle Shifters is a joy to go through. Considerably more than going through that name. The gear changes are quick in Auto but the Manual is a little more fun because it is a little more organic. And also because you can hold the revs to listen to the glorious V8 sing away.
The engine oozes of grunt and God knows that we all love rear-wheel-drive. There are not a lot of things more fun than the rear kicking out a little when you are being adventurous. Being on the edge of control with the tyres squealing is the closest to God you can get. Literally too! And the RC F can do that.
It can go around corners fairly well and handle even the rowdiest of drivers. There’s no supercharger or turbo grunt but the RC F makes up for that with a precise throttle and you can keep it pinned through a corner because the power delivery is linear. It won’t present a sudden peak to unsettle the chassis… or the driver.
It is aerodynamically efficient and there’s a speed activated spoiler to further enhance downforce at speed so it can handle those numbers too. There’s also an optional Torque Vectoring Differential to further boost the Lexus RC F’s track credentials and prowess. But that’s about it… you know… this is where the organic-ness of this car as a sportscar kinda fades.
So what’s wrong? Well… Soul. You see the RC F looks like a sportscar and goes like one too… but it’s a Lexus. And in the form of an RC F, it is confused whether to be rowdy like a sports car or composed like a… well, Lexus. It leans towards the latter.
It is a little on the heavier side and the weight distribution is not ideal either as it is a little front biased. That introduces a little understeer and that is why it just does not feel as engaging as, say, an M4. The RC F is heavier, a little less quick, and… a tad less engaging.
It is not that Lexus does not know how to make sports cars. If you think so, it’s blasphemy. Those who know the LFA and even more so, those who have driven it, know that it was a proper, supercar! That was Lexus’ passion showing its mad and obsessed side. The RC F though is a tad too much of a goody-two-shoes to be… extreme.
So is it a bad car? Hell no. No Lexus ever is. It is a very civil and very comfortable car. It glides over bad roads and the interior is heavenly. Drive an M4 Competition around town or on bad roads and it gets on your nerves after a while. But then, the M4 is not meant for that.
And that’s the problem. The RC F does not know what it is meant for. The sportier modes do add a little more oomph, more noise, more action… but probably not enough. It is a jack of all trades but it is troubled in the sense that it does not know where to go…
Well, the tofu… err… Paneer run is nearly over. And in trying to figure out what the Lexus RC F is all about, Ninja-san has accumulated quite a bit of lead. It needs to be caught and there are some paneer sandwiches to be made. We’ll just let the Lexus RC F figure out who it wants to be…
Lexus: It already has.
xBhp: What do you mean?
Lexus: For 2021, there is going to be a Track Edition for the RC F. Psst… it has a fixed rear wing and it weighs much less.
xBhp: … Eurobeat?
P.s. This was not a race but just a fun take on the RC F and IntialD. So take our advice and do not race on the roads because you don’t want to be too close to God.
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
Now we did mention that Ninja-san built up a considerable lead, right? That’s because the new ZX-10R is a phenomenal motorcycle. The thing that Kawasaki has been able to achieve with the new ZX-10R is that it is a great base. In the stock trim, it is a really fast motorcycle that is pretty easy to live with. Riding often happens often due to the easygoing nature of the engine and the setup.
On the road, the 998cc inline-4 delivers the power in a linear manner. That translates to usable performance in the city albeit it needs the gearbox to be worked a little. Show it some open roads and it can accelerate with the ferocity that one expects from a superbike. Nothing with the ZX-10R is extreme. Nothing about it is intimidating even for relatively newer riders. And for that reason, the ZX-10R can be a great learning tool if someone is inclined towards motorsports.
But as we said, the ZX-10R is a fantastic base. 200 bhp (210 with RAM air) and 114.9 Nm of torque ferrying 206 kg of kerb weight mean the motorcycle has got more than enough juice for track days. A few add-ons, a couple of tweaks is all you need to turn it into a proper track weapon. There is a reason why Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki dominate the WSBK and riding the ZX-10R once is all you need to get to know that reason.
But most importantly, the graphics, the signature green, and a design that has stood the test of time lend it a beautiful look!