A naturally aspirated 470bhp 5.0-litre V8 coupled with good old-fashioned rear-wheel-drive on a sopping wet track would usually send shivers down the spine of even the most adept drivers, but Lexus believes that a plethora of technical wizardry will ensure even the most ham-fisted drivers can maintain control of its RC-F monster saloon.
But the Japanese marque also thinks the ballistic coupe packs enough of a performance punch to take on the mighty BMW M4 and Audi RS5 Coupe. But is it enough of an animal to slay the German giants?
We can't talk about the new RC F without mentioning the car that clearly inspired its very existence. The 2010 LFA was a bespoke project that saw a crack team of Lexus engineers well and truly poke the boundaries of performance with a machine that revved at such a rate that it required special digital dials to keep up with proceedings.
The RC F is not quite in the same supercar stratosphere as its big brother but it does feature a whole host of performance-orientated tech and styling cues that have kindly been handed down to the smaller sibling.
The RC F is certainly a looker, and will most definitely have heads turning when it lands next year.
This is partly because just 500 will be sold in Europe but mainly because its dimensions are spot on. The curvaceous exterior has been designed to maximise aerodynamic and cooling efficiency, so it's all swooping lines and gaping grilles. The large rear pipes and automatic rear wing give it a menacing road presence when viewed from the rear, while the huge 'spindle grille' at the front ensures it looks just as angry when seen in the rear-view mirror.
If the words 'stylish' and 'exclusive' are high on the new car wish list then this is immediately worth a look.
In stark contrast to the exquisite exterior, the RC F's cabin is a bit of a hotchpotch of cutting-edge technology and bits clearly liberated from the Lexus parts bin.
A neat set of digital dials, which are the direct result of the aforementioned LFA, sit behind the chunky steering wheel. This screen can display all manner of information from sat-nav instructions to a g-force meter. The instrument binnacle also changes its appearance depending on the driving mode selected, but more of the later.
Cast your eyes to the centre console and things get a little muddled. A 7-inch multimedia display is inserted into the top stack of the dash, meaning it's slightly recessed and annoyingly positioned so the driver has to crane slightly to get full view of it. Another bugbear is the trackpad technology that controls everything - it's vague, styled a bit like an old Atari control pad, provides irritating haptic feedback and simply isn't as effective as a dial or a touchscreen.
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There are some saving graces inside; the seats are cossetting and look ace, while the optional Mark Levinson stereo with Clari-Fi technology is fantastic. It uses clever algorithms to 'repair and rebuild' the quality lost during file compression. Basically, the MP3s and Spotify tracks you listen to on a regular basis sound bloody brilliant blasting out of the 17-speaker set-up.
What the interior lacks in stylistic cohesion it more than makes up for with connectivity and features. The infotainment system accepts inputs from USB, Bluetooth aux-in and a bunch of other stuff we didn't have time to test out because we were too busy listening to the naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 engine. Plus there's sat-nav, phone pairing, a lap timer and loads of performance-related data that can be pulled up via switches on the steering wheel. It doesn't look particularly pretty - even the graphics could do with modernising - but it all works and mostly comes as standard.
Saved by technology
A rowdy 470bhp rear-wheel drive machine that weighs 2250kg on a sopping wet Ascari race circuit is a recipe for disaster but also the perfect opportunity to show off the sheer weight of tech that keeps the RC F from spinning into a bush.
Four different driving modes can be selected from a rotary dial on the centre console: Eco, Normal, Sport S and Sport+. Eco basically sucks the fun out of everything, Normal is best suited to long motorway journeys or a trip to the shops and things get really spicy when you stray into sporty territory.
Sport S configures the gearbox so it automatically downshifts under hard braking, while the traction control allows for a bit of slip at the back end. Sport + cranks it up another notch and unleashes the full fury of the engine, while a weightier steering set-up is activated that's much better suited to track sessions.
Drivers can then get super geeky and fiddle with the Torque Vectoring Differential, which alters the amount of torque that's pumped to the rear wheels. It basically means any driver in almost any conditions can exploit the full 470bhp.
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Despite the astonishing amount of power, the RC F's on-road manners are surprisingly sedate. It rides well in all driving modes and the big V8 engine is kept relatively quiet until called upon, making long journeys a breeze.
But that's the issue, it's just not mad enough.
The new Lexus is priced to compete with the BMW M4 and Audi RS5, two cars that possess the ability to scare the bejesus out of even the most experienced drivers on a regular basis, yet it doesn't feel as unhinged. Even in Sport + mode, with engine noise artificially pumped into the cabin, it's not loud enough and, perhaps thanks to the car's excessive weight, acceleration just doesn't feel as gut busting as its closest rivals.
But on the flip side, it's quick, smooth and surprisingly comfortable, which will undoubtedly please a certain cross section of the prospective clientele.
The latest Lexus is a mixed bag: It's quite clearly fast but nowhere near as crazy as the latest BMW M4. It draws a crowd when parked up but some of the interior tech feels out-dated. It inspires plenty of confidence thanks to a glut of clever gadgetry but it doesn't excite in the way other similarly priced cars do.
In the end, style-conscious cruisers looking for a weekend rocket will not be disappointed but those on the hunt for the absolute pinnacle of performance might want to look elsewhere.