Lexus builds the most exciting RC to date
The 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition’s name—and big wing—hint at the automaker’s RC F GT3 race car. And Lexus does claim the connection exists, mostly by way of aerodynamic technology. The Track Edition still has the RC F’s big V-8 that we’ve grown to love, and it’s lighter than the 2019 model, too.
That last part is important because as we’ve previously reported, the RC is a fundamentally heavy car. The last time we weighed an RC F, it tipped the scales at 4,040 pounds (1,823 kg), making it the heaviest among its competitors. Lexus’ effort to shave pounds for the Track Edition was exhaustive. A smaller air conditioner compressor, for example, saved less than a pound, while a lighter intake manifold and new hollow axle halfshafts are 1.5 and 4 pounds (0.7 and 1.8 kg) lighter, respectively.
A little bit here and a little bit there certainly helps, but bigger cuts came from using carbon fiber. The roof and hood are made from the lightweight material, as is the support brace behind the rear seats. Brembo carbon-ceramic brake rotors save a significant 48.5 pounds (22 kg) in unsprung weight, and 19-inch forged BBS wheels save another 6 pounds (2.7 kg). In all, Lexus says the 2020 RC F Track Edition is 177 pounds (80 kg) lighter than the 2019 RC F.
Naturally aspirated eight-cylinders are becoming a rare treat these days, and the one in the RC doesn’t disappoint. The 5.0-liter V-8 carries over essentially unchanged from the 2019 model, but now it makes 472 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque, which is 5 horsepower and 6 lb-ft more than before. The Track Edition’s exclusive new titanium exhaust muffler adds a racy note and sounds fantastic. And not only does the fancy exhaust save 15 pounds (6.8 kg), but it also echoes inside the cabin naturally, without any of the normal RC F’s cabin speaker enhancements (and removing those speakers cuts weight by another 1.1 pounds (500 g)).
We got a chance to drive the 2020 RC F Track Edition, along with the updated 2020 RC F, on the 1.8-mile (2.9-km) course at the Thermal Club south of Palm Springs, California. Lexus claims an improved 0–60 time of just under 4 seconds thanks to a higher final-drive ratio (3.13 versus 2.97) and a new launch control system. Off-the-line acceleration does feel peppier (even without using launch control), and power delivery is linear (Lexus says it also refined the throttle mapping). The carryover eight-speed auto is relatively quick, though it was a tad late on a downshift before entering a corner, which upset the chassis a bit. We’d recommend using the paddle shifters to avoid any such mishaps. Like the RC F, the Track Edition has selectable drive modes (including Eco, Sport, and Sport+) that adjust transmission shift and throttle performance even further.
Aerodynamic tricks borrowed from the GT3 race car include a carbon-fiber front splitter and canards that reduce lift, while redesigned rocker panels improve airflow past the rear wheels. Meanwhile, the carbon-fiber fixed rear wing takes the place of the active spoiler used in the RC F; it not only reduces drag and lift but also contributes up to 58 pounds (26 kg) of downforce. And the RC F’s distinctive front-fender air outlets are now bigger to improve brake cooling. That said, the Track Edition felt assuring and stable speeding through both straights at Thermal, and the brakes retained good bite and feel throughout our lap sessions.
Lexus has decided not to offer its trick torque-vectoring differential in the RC F Track Edition, claiming the standard Torsen limited-slip diff gives the driver more control of the car. The Track Edition does put the power down well, even if you dip into the throttle a tad early on corner exit. New Michelin Pilot 4S tires (replacing the previous Super Sports) certainly help.
Aside from stiffer bushings on the steering rack and rear subframe and a redesigned engine mount, the chassis is pretty much unchanged. A series of quick S turns at Thermal reminded us that the RC F is a well-planted coupe with quick and responsive steering.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to drive the Track Edition on the street, but we have no reason to doubt it’s a luxurious and comfortable cruiser—which was more important to Lexus than making a hardcore track car.
Production is limited to 400 units globally, with just 50 going to the United States. Each one is priced at $97,675 USD.
And with that, naysayers will have plenty of ammo. They’ll likely point out that the standard 2020 RC F is almost $32,000 USD cheaper yet shares many of the Track Edition’s upgrades, including launch control and the new tires, engine and drivetrain tweaks—and the standard RC F offers TVD. Based on the short time we had with both cars, they’ll say the Track Edition, although fun and engaging to drive, doesn’t feel much different from the normal RC F, making them wish for things like wider and stickier tires, stiffer suspension, or more supportive seats. Really F it up. We’re ready for it.