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Lexus Brings Fastest Car to CD's 2016 Lightning Lap

How did Lexus put up the best time this year? - It totally cheated - in a good way.


Car and Driver’s Lightning Lap is a fantastic 10-year record of what cars are really fast in their given sales class. It uncovers cars that are actually fast, like the Ford Focus RC, and which cars are dog-slow for the money on a racetrack, like the Tesla Model S. The testing is always done on the same track, so the cars earn their spots in a controlled environment. The Lightning Lap rules state that the “winners” are to be street-legal cars on street-legal tires. Lexus didn’t send a street legal car, nor did it put street-legal tires on it. Instead, Lexus sent its mighty RC F GT Concept Coupe shod with Yokohama racing slicks that CD said were loud enough “…to make your ears bleed.”

The Lexus RC F is a production performance coupe that has rear drive, a V8 and a lot of go-fast bits balanced with the sort of things that make a ride home from work tolerable. The production car ran a 3:05.8 time in 2015, which is not very impressive for its class. A Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat ran the course about two seconds quicker as a point of comparison. However, the track-ready RC F GT Concept put up a time of 2:43.2. How fast is that? Consider that the track-ready Lexus is faster than the 2016 Dodge Viper ACR, which “won” the contest this year by a full second. In fact, the only car ever tested by Car and Driver that was as quick, was the 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder, which put up a time just one tenth of a second faster than the Lexus.

So, aside from the racing slicks, what advantage did the Lexus RC F GT have? For one it has a modified engine. Instead of the 467 hp from its V8 the street version produces, CD estimated that the GT Concept version has about 500 hp. Furthermore, the Lexus RC F GT Concept had most of its interior trim stripped out (and a roll cage added back). Interestingly, the Lexus seems to have retained its 8-speed “direct –shift” automatic transmission, which CD said slowed the car down. Apparently, slow is relative, since the RC F GT Concept was faster than every the car in the history of the test. All but that million dollar Porsche.

See Car and Driver's full Lightning Lap coverage in the October 2016 Issue on pages 33-59.
Image courtesy of Lexus