BMW has been making the M3 (now also called the M4) since 1985. Lexus only began as a company in 1989. We say this because, 25 years down the line, the Japanese marque is daringly trying to take on the undisputed king of performance coupés at its own game with its third F-badged product, the RC F coupé. It follows the excellent IS F saloon and the truly sensational LFA in building the F-for-Fuji brand into something that can conceivably challenge M, AMG and RS.
And we say daringly because Lexus has eschewed forced induction to stay with a normally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine, making colossal figures of 471hp and 391lb.ft. However, peak torque is delivered at a lofty 4,800rpm, meaning you have to work the Lexus hard to get the best from it. But when you do, the rewards are fabulous. The noise is unbelievably good and only very slightly augmented, the handling, steering and brakes are all excellent, and the Lexus belies its porky 3,891lb curb weight to deliver eye-widening straight-line go from 3,500rpm onwards. It’s more softly suspended than a BMW M4, though, so while it’s supremely comfortable on road, on track it’s a tiny bit less precise than the German icon.
Other RC F flaws are fussy front-end design, cramped rear seats and economy/emissions figures that are embarrassing in this day and age. It makes up for these with an otherwise pleasant and high-quality cabin and decent standard specification. So does the RC F beat the class-leader, the M4? Objectively, no. The Beemer is the better handling and quicker car. But what the Lexus has is bags of charisma, a sonorous engine and plenty of comfort. If you let heart rule your head, the RC F could be the rapid coupé for you; that amazing V8 bellow certainly floats our boat.