While other brands go down the turbocharged road, the Lexus RC F offers a naturally aspirated V8 engine
All natural alternative EASY TO DRIVE: The steering wheel with its fat leather-wrapped rim is not only well-weighted and accurate, but fast enough so you don't have to take your hands off it for most corners

IN an automotive world where almost every luxury manufacturer has downsized its big engines and substituted displacement with forced induction, Lexus stands out for its muscular, naturally aspirated five-litre, V8 engine.

This high-revving petrol unit delivers 470 hp and 530 Nm to the rear wheels - smoothly, linearly and most importantly, without unnecessary turbo lag. It is actually a massively upgraded version of the one which debuted in the IS F more than seven years ago. The result is that it revs higher with maximum torque available earlier but runs on the Atkinson cycle for improved fuel efficiency.

The V8 drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed gearbox that is so fast it is hard to believe it is actually a conventional automatic transmission with a torque converter. The Sports Direct Shift transmission downshifts quickly and obediently when the left steering wheel-mounted paddle is pulled. There is no hesitation and so direct that engine braking can be harnessed to slow you down instead of having to stomp on the brake pedal itself.

As with the other Lexi, there is the familiar knob on the centre console to select one of four drive modes. The RC F is very civilised in Normal mode and easy to drive. But the power is always there to remind you that it's seething under the hood. Take a sweeping corner faster than you should, for instance, and you can feel the traction control cutting in to prevent the rear from sliding out.

The steering wheel with its fat leather-wrapped rim is not only well-weighted and accurate, but fast enough so you don't have to take your hands off it for most corners.

In Sport mode, the RC F brims with torque as it gets angrier with a louder exhaust. Turn the knob clockwise again and Sport+ will reduce intervention levels while ratcheting up the engine's responsiveness such that driving it around in the city can get slightly choppy. This is best left for track day, together with the RC F's unique feature - the torque vectoring differential.

It comes with three settings which are independent of the drive modes - standard, slalom and track. Any one of these will deliver, depending on how much "turn-in" you want in a corner, or in this case, how violent. But when you're not tearing around a circuit, it is the styling and refinement of the Lexus RC F coupe which are its most attractive attributes.

With its bulging bonnet and wheel arches, this 4.7-metre-long 2+2 with a 2,730 mm wheelbase has aggressive styling. A rear spoiler on its distinctive tail automatically deploys above 100 kmh.

Inside, the front sports seats with their deep side bolsters are luxuriously comfortable. A wide TFT screen in front of the driver is the virtual instrument binnacle, with its colourful graphics and details changing depending on the drive mode chosen (this is snazzier than the one in the RC350 F Sport model, which is inspired by the LFA supercar and has the same sliding ring for the single central meter that moves over to reveal a second menu with additional driver information).

Despite its high-performance abilities, the RC F is extremely driveable. It can cruise comfortably and efficiently (engine speed can be as low as 1,200 rpm in top gear).

Or it can be fast and furious. Whatever your choice, the RC F is always refined and composed, and behaving more like a very muscular grand tourer than a hardcore sports car. This is truly the epitome of performance luxury.

CAR INFORMATION

Lexus RC F 5.0 V8 (A)

Price

:POA

Engine Type

:

V8 DOHC Dual VVT-i

Engine Cap

:

4,969 cc

Horsepower

:

470 bhp / 7,100 rpm

Torque

:

530 Nm / 5,600 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

4.5 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

270 km/h