The BMW M4 Convertible may have hogged the limelight at the New York Motor Show, but across the hall, a Lexus lay in waiting.
The Lexus RC-F is an important car, not just because it signals a return to high performance machines for the Japanese marque, but also because it will rival the fearsome M4 - both in terms of price and power - when it finally reaches our shores. Here's why you should care.
Surely Lexus doesn’t stand a chance against the mighty M4?The upcoming RC-F certainly has some stiff competition on its hands but it won't keel over in the first round. It packs a 5.0-litre V8 that develops a mighty 450bhp – 25bhp more than the BMW’s new twin-turbo straight-six. Round one to Lexus.
Didn’t Alan Partridge refer to his Lexus as “the Japanese Mercedes”?Yes he did. But the days of copying luxury German saloons are over and Lexus has its own unique style. That massive, gaping ‘spindle’ grille will be seen on many upcoming models, while the stacked quad tailpipes have become something of a trademark on modern, sporty Lexuses… or should we say 'Lexii'?
The BMW M3 has years of pedigree. What does Lexus have?The RC-F’s predecessor was the IS-F, a vehicle that many considered a true rival to the previous generation M3 thanks to its willingness to drift around corners and generally act like a big hooligan.
You might also remember the LF-A supercar, which was capable of 202mph and was adored by a certain Mr J Clarkson, who said if he could be given any car ever made, he’d pick “a dark blue Lexus LF-A”.
RC-F chief engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi said upon its initial launch in Detroit earlier this year that some of the LF-A’s DNA runs through these upcoming cars, so expect a scorching performance.
Is the inside as mad as the outside?It’s not quite as mad but it remains an impressive sight. A TFT instrument panel glows an inviting blue behind the steering wheel and will display varying information depending on the driving mode selected.
Neat, aluminium paddle shifters take care of the gear changes, while a recessed infotainment screen hosts the technology, which although is yet to be confirmed, will likely offer the Lexus Enform App – a Cloud-based connected service that can access apps such as Facebook, Bing and Pandora (an American web radio service that's really rather good).
So who is going to win?That’s yet to be decided – you can bet the handling of the M4 will please critics, but that’s not to say we should write off the Lexus. It will almost certainly be cheaper than its Germanic challenger and it will feature a naturally-aspirated V8 engine – the exact thing that made previous generations of the M3 so ruddy good to drive.
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