Seven years ago, Lexus unveiled the IS F, a fast, thrilling sports sedan that immediately resonated with drivers because of its superb maneuverability on both the road and track.
The letter F has held special significance among Lexus owners and engineers ever since. Representing the word flagship and referring to the Fuji speedway, Lexus’s chief test site, the Lexus F is now synonymous with speed, precision, innovation, and technological progression.
The Lexus F project was initiated by one engineer, Yukihiko Yaguchi, who in the early 2000s pursued a personal dream to create a car with driving capabilities he could proudly announce as “the best around,” he says.
In 2004, having experimented with automobile parts on his days off, Yaguchi built a prototype, later known as the IS F. The model attracted significant attention, first from other Lexus engineers who would soon join forces with Yaguchi on the project, and then from Lexus’s top executives, who recognized the engineer’s personal work as the beginnings of Lexus’s official foray into the high-performance vehicle market.
“What drove me to kick-start this project was a simple aim to build a car that would embody Lexus’s ideals,” Yaguchi says. “To that end, we focused our attention on three things: steering response, sound, and acceleration—key factors that make the driver feel connected to the car.”
Now, a decade after that first prototype was built, Yaguchi and his team have unveiled the Lexus RC F, the second model in the Lexus F range. Equipped with a 5.0-liter V8 engine, the RC F, which was revealed at the Detroit auto show earlier this year, is an ultra high-performance coupe that produces 450-plus horsepower.
Deemed the most powerful model in the Lexus production lineup to date, it also comes with a torque-vectoring differential (TVD). The system is designed to allow the driver to choose from three operating modes: “Track” to help with consistent control, helping the vehicle stay on the intended cornering line; “Slalom” for emphasis on nimble steering response; and “Standard” for a balance of performance and control.
“The RC F presented us with a tougher challenge than the IS F,” Yaguchi explains. “We were, of course, under pressure when working on the IS F. But the weight of expectation was far heavier this time, now that we’re in the second chapter of the F legacy. We had to create something much, much better than our previous models to impress. That was tough, to say the least.”
Yaguchi is modest, but his efforts have paid off. The RC F’s steering outperforms that of its predecessor, thanks in part to the car’s aerodynamic packaging, its highly sophisticated underbody, its improved fenders, and its upgraded suspension.
An electronic active rear spoiler—a feature inspired by the LFA—has been built into the back end to be deployed when the car exceeds speeds of 50 mph. The model’s 19-inch alloy wheel options and updated spindle grille will appeal to current Lexus owners and Lexus newcomers alike.
“This car is purpose built for the skill level of all driving enthusiasts, especially with the TVD,” says Yaguchi with a smile. “With this car, you can cruise through town, but you can also have a go on a circuit if you’re into that sort of thing.”
—BY SHOGO HAGIWARA/MOUNTAIN PHOTOS BY GREG WHITE