2015 Lexus RC F Compared to Muscle Cars and Sporty Cars On a Racetrack
Last year Torque News was lucky enough to be invited to the RC F media launch. Due to some odd scheduling, we had almost unlimited track time on the road course at the fabulous Monticello Motor Club. I shared four cars with just two other journalists for about 2 hours after the rest of the attendees left. In total, I turned about 20 laps that day in every version of the RC. The next week were back with the International Motor Press Assoc. and tested the IS F (sayonara) and the BMW M3 among other great cars. Last week we had a second shot at the RC F at Monticello courtesy of Lexus and IMPA, this time in a TVD-equipped RC F model. My initial impression of the RC F is now firmly cemented in my mind.
If you are looking for absolute objectivity, I can’t offer it here. I own an IS 350C and do not want to trick anyone into thinking I am without a positive view of the RC F. We all have our preferences, and mine lean toward luxury touring cars. Also, this is not a Car and Driver-type instrument test. At Monticello, the club changes the track when we journalists use it for our safety and to keep the shiny side of the cars facing up. Consider this an 8/10ths test. We do go full speed on the straights, but they are shortened. We do go to full ABS braking, but the brake zones are marked for us. We do get the cars to slide a bit, but we don’t drift. We are not trying to embellish anything here in our reporting. What we can tell you is that if you took your car to a track day and didn’t want to risk wrecking it, this is about as fast as you could drive.
My day started with a MINI Cooper John Cooper Works hardtop. The MINI is a blast to steer, and the engine is spunky. However, on the acceleration parts of the track, this car, the VW Golf R, and the BMW 228iM all run out of steam. They are darty and fun, and a tremendous value for track day cars but a huge part of the fun is full-throttle acceleration, and these cars just don’t match the next price bracket of cars.
Next I tried both the Hellcat Charger and Challenger models. These are the best muscle cars ever built. Insane power. Surprisingly amazing brakes too. However, for this semi-talented driver, there are two things that spoil cars like this on the track. They are the opposite of tossable. In turns, they keel-over and feel unwieldy. I prefer a car I can dominate and I can't do that in the Hellcat. Secondly, if one stomps the throttle in the second highest drive mode (I don’t shut off stability and traction control completely) the cars limit their power so much they are hard to drive fast. Patrick Rall of Torque News may have the most track time of any journalist in Hellcats and similar beasts, so I reached out and asked Patrick what he would do differently on a road curse to enjoy the Hellcats.
I have had the pleasure of driving the Hellcat Challenger and Charger on a couple different test tracks around the country and at these test days, I also drove the other Challenger/Charger trim lines. I can say without any doubt that the Hellcat models are the best-handling cars Dodge has ever sold outside of the Viper, but it cannot be driven like a 3,000lb car with 500hp.
You have to be delicate with the throttle coming out of the turns, but the weight of both cars helps with traction and when you do hit that sweet spot coming out a turn - the Hellcat cars pull like few others in the world. Also, the massive front and rear Brembo braking setups afford this car stunning stopping abilities, so you can go from huge straightaway speed down to a manageable speed to make it through the corners cleanly with the electronic suspension setup eliminating almost all body roll.
Ultimately, the Hellcat Charger and Challenger make such good use of the available 707hp that they can make up what they lose to lighter cars in the turns. While a car like the RC F will get through the turn quicker, the Hellcat Challenger gets out of the turn, down the straight at much higher speeds and back down to lower speeds for the next turn better than any 4,500lb car I’ve ever driven.
Back John Commenting On the RC F:
The V8-powered RC F and its amazing transmission hit the sweet spot for me. The car handles great, due in part to the torque-vectoring differential, and if you treat it right, the car is neutral in the corners. At first it understeers, but one quickly learns to get the tail out enough to make the car neutral at the limits. The brakes are amazing so you can go deep into turns. Exiting, the V8 has as much power as all but a handful of cars under $100K and the acceleration is fantastic. On the last straight, we topped 100 MPH easily. We were only able to do this in the Hellcats (107), Corvette Stingray, Cadillac ATS-V, and came close in the BMW 340i. To give you a reality check, the Mazda CX-3 only got up to about 65 MPH in that section.
We had multiple laps in the RC F throughout the day and found that it had what it takes to be a completely enjoyable track-day car. On a road course, it blends the handling of the MINI and BMW 228i with the strong power of the V8 muscle cars without having any of their compromises.
Thanks to Patrick Rall for adding his insight and experience. Thanks to Matt Blouin for taking the video and offering his suggestions.
Main story Image Caption: Corey Proffitt of Toyota/Lexus/Scion offers a tester advice on the drive modes of the RC F before a drive. Thanks again to all the Mfg.s who brought out the hardware!
In addition to our video below we have more RC F track video at our Youtube Channel. Check it out.