2021 Lexus RC F Fuji Speedway Edition review: Special doesn’t always mean good

At least this car looks cool.

Kyle Hyatt / Roadshow

The thought of spending a week with a hyper-limited, track-focused, special-edition vehicle with a big, high-revving, naturally aspirated V8 is pretty exciting. That’s the stuff car enthusiasts dream about, right? Unfortunately, reality rarely lives up to our dreams, and that’s certainly the case with the 2021 Lexus RC F Fuji Speedway Edition.

like

  • excellent build quality
  • Strong Carbon-Ceramic Brakes

do not like it

  • lazy drivetrain
  • painful journey
  • very expensive

On paper, the RC F Fuji version sounds great. It has tons of carbon fiber, carbon-ceramic brakes and the 5.0-liter 2UR-GSE V8 you’ll find in performance cars such as Lexus LC 500, dear IS F and new IS 500. That engine produces a respectable 472 horsepower at 7,100 rpm and 395 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm, but it’s here that the RC F’s bummers begin.

This engine certainly screams in its upper registers, as evidenced by the revs at which it makes peak power. That’s where the V8 is exciting and responsive and alive. Unfortunately, at the bottom of its rev range, the 5.0-liter V8 runs on an Atkinson cycle, the same efficiency-focused cycle that Toyota uses in its hybrids. This means valve timing changes to focus on fuel efficiency at the cost of power, torque and responsiveness.

On paper, it’s nice to have a more efficient car at speeds around town, but in reality, it makes a track-focused beast like the RC F feel dead and fuzzy. If it were anything other than a flagship sports model, I’d be low-key, but in a car like this, with a big carbon wing, hyper-aggressive styling, and a big price tag, it seems like a huge wrong move. . I want my big, naturally aspirated V8 to kick ass all the time, and it doesn’t.

That V8 is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the engine, the transmission works well in the city but allows the driver to take to the nice canyon roads. It drives slower than some of the ZF eight-speeders I’ve experienced and, again, in a track-focused car, it doesn’t have to be this way. At least this transmission is paired with a locking rear differential which works as advertised and is a welcome addition to the RC F.

You will find this 5.0-litre V8 in the LC 500 and IS 500.

Kyle Hyatt / Roadshow

The suspension of the RC F Fuji is another area that should be impressive purely based on its specifications, but doesn’t live up to the hype. The front double-wishbone suspension gets adaptive sax dampers and a hollow front sway bar. The rear uses a multi-link design. The whole setup is extremely harsh and unpleasant around the city, yet it doesn’t do a great job of controlling the RC F in high-speed driving. Also, I find it difficult to trust the car to stay engaged as it spins on steep valley roads as it never really feels settled. The RC F’s fuzzy electronic power steering also does a poor job of providing driver feedback, leading to a lack of confidence on the road.

Arguably the best thing about the Fuji is the set of 14.9-inch Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes. The RC F is a heavy car that weighs in at 3,781 pounds (121 pounds lighter than the standard RC F), and with nearly 500 hp on tap, these ineffectual brakes are a welcome addition to repeatable, confidence-inspiring stopping. With the reasonably sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, the RC F has good overall grip, despite the suspension issues I’ve had.

The RC F’s cabin is leather, Alcantara, carbon fiber and a sea of ​​​​buttons. At 6 feet, 4 inches, I’m taller than most drivers, but I struggle to get comfortable in either position. The seats are gorgeous and possibly too supportive for younger drivers, but after an hour in the canyon, I feel like they’re boxing my kidneys, and that’s not fun. The carbon-roofed Fuji could also have better headroom, given the lack of a moonroof. The BMW M4 offers more room for the head (and helmet), but at least the RC F has plenty of legroom. The entire cabin is built with excellent materials, at least – a hallmark of Lexus products.

The interior is well appointed, but the infotainment technology is really poor.

Kyle Hyatt / Roadshow

The RC F lacks blind-spot monitoring (thanks to its carbon fiber side mirrors) and rear cross-traffic alert, but at least has adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beam, lane-departure warning and so on. comes with. But while the security suite is only fine, the infotainment system is very poor. The RC F doesn’t have a touchscreen, but thankfully apple carplay And android auto are standard, and my test vehicle is equipped with the optional Mark Levinson Audio Package—a mandatory add-on for any Lexus as far as I’m concerned. The Lexus Enform system is problematic due to its clunky interface and sluggish responsiveness, not to mention the finicky trackpad that’s hard to use while driving.

The starting price for the RC F Fuji Speedway Edition is $98,275, which includes Lexus’ $1,075 destination fee. That’s a $30,000 plus premium over the standard RC F, so other than exclusivity and carbon-ceramic brakes, is Lexus giving buyers a run for that money? The big aesthetic differences are the carbon fiber hood, rear wing, roof, front lip and side skirts, as well as the Alcantara interior with red leather and carbon trim. There’s also a titanium exhaust system, forged BBS wheels and the aforementioned torque-vectoring rear end.

Many of these will not be sold.

Kyle Hyatt / Roadshow

But is it worth it? In short, no. The RC F Fuji Speedway Edition isn’t a very good car on public roads and it isn’t enjoyable on the curvy stretches of canyon roads. It may be as good on the race track as its name would imply (though I can’t confirm that), but with its puny ride, cramped interior, and disappointing drivetrain, I’d imagine taking it over any other sports car at this price. can not do . For the tested price of this RC F as $102,510, I’d have a base for a Porsche 911, which is both a better sports car and a much more livable daily driver.

For 2022, Lexus decided to expand the Fuji Speedway Edition to an additional 50 units. The company also added a new color — a lovely blue called the Electric Surge — and gave Fuji a new set of 19-inch wheels. Unfortunately, these updates do nothing to enhance the appeal of this super hard sell.

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