By Clive Funizwe
The Lexus “F” marque represents the high-performance division of cars produced by the company. In late 2006, Lexus filed a trademark applications for an “F” emblem, leading to speculation that the luxury marque was about to launch a performance brand. At the time it was suggested that “F” stood for “Fast” or “Flagship” or “Funizwe”… J Whatever the “F” means – it definitely lives up to either of the speculated nomenclatures of sorts. To get your mind in the correct frame of thinking – let me explain the perspective of this review. Let’s call this perspective “Operating Range”. This is where majority of the owners – will be operating the RCF for the bulk of time. This then alludes to the school run, commute to work, road trips, etc.
Before the RCF was delivered to me, the last performance car I drove was the Toyota Supra. It had in its heart a 3.0 litre turbo charged petrol engine that produced a heart thumping 250kW with 500Nm of torque. Each kilowatt felt a lot meatier than the claimed figures. So when jumping in the RCF that has a naturally aspirated 5.0 V8 you expect a lot before you even know what the figures are. You jump in, the exhaust note intoxicates you, and your blood turns into petrol. Naturally you rush through the acquaintance process as you eye out for a stretch of road to release the beast. You inevitably give it the beans but something doesn’t add up. [insert confused emoticon here]. You engage the sport + mode but something is still missing. As you continue to wonder why your hair is not on fire from that monstrous 5.0 V8 that you now know churns out 351kW / 530Nm – you continue to enjoy the engine noise, perfectly weighted and precise steering and get back to acquainting yourself to the car – foreplay is important is seems.
As things have slowed down – you start to notice small things that are counter intuitive but functional – like how the gear shifting goes down and to the left as opposed to down and to the right. The remote-touch interface is finicky at first – but its operability becomes second nature in no time.
You start to take note of the cabin materials, its quality and the sound system (which is the best upgrade in any car – and yes – this includes the Dynaudio in the Golf R, the Meridian in the Range Rover and B&W in the X7 and XC90)… and one thing starts to become apparent with this car – and that is the fact that it takes a little longer to make its case compared to its rivals that immediately impress you. It becomes evident that most things about the RCF are better than the competition, but are not immediately noticeable.
The build quality of the interior as a whole is top drawer stuff. The leather wrapped steering is heated. Seat ventilation for the front seats are both heated and cooled. Auto-Dual zone climate control comes standard with its very unique touch slide control system. Other comfort features include a reverse camera, adaptive cruise control, navigation which is a bit tedious to use. Aural intoxication is taken care off by the 17 speaker Mark Levinson sound system. This is the only vehicle where you would find a Mark Levinson sound system. This not only sounds exclusive but it literally is…
Driver aid features include a radar guided cruise control, pre-collision brake assist, rear cross traffic alert, park distance control, blind spot monitoring, hill assist control, lane keeping system with lane departure alert and steering control.
Our favourite feature was obviously the Driver Mode Select button that alters the characteristics of the engine and steering weight… which bring us to the priority reason on why you would consider buying the RCF. How does it drive? Do the credentials translate to a road killing machine that the RCF is set up to be?
Let’s start with the suspension. The RCF doesn’t have adaptive dampers and in our opinion it doesn’t need them… either than this being one more thing to worry about in the long run. The ride is more than compliant from both a comfort and spirited setting view point. The latter does however feel a little less balanced from an acceleration and cornering point of view. But this can be attributed more to the weight of the car than the suspension. The RCF also uses a torque vectoring differential to improve grip on acceleration. It has a centre differential and two electronic modules on each side of the dif – which all help to look at the steering angle, g-force, and affects which way the car distributes power to which wheel. When you’re on the spirited side of things, you never feel like the rear wheels are not hooked up properly despite the weight marginally affecting the nimbleness and handling of the car. The RCF is comparatively heavier than its rivals by almost 400kgs in relation to the lightest rival by weight – the BMW M4. When cornering at speed, there is a slight body roll that is felt. Acceleration and throttle response is immediate, soulful and fulfilling. However, there’s no denying that turbo charged engines can have you briefly thinking of adult diapers.
All this is not to say the car is slow… not in the least bit. It is fast – very fast. It is however a fraction slower than the competition. Refinement and cabin inertness also takes away from the feeling of the car feeling fast. Either than these two aspects of marginally slower and lacks the nimbleness of the leading rivals, it trumps the competition everywhere else.
The RCF is priced from R1,331,500 and comes with a class leading 7 Year/105,000km maintenance plan and 7 year warranty.
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