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Interesting stuff....if you haven't read it before.
The Lexus IS nameplate dates back to 1998 and the entry-level luxury segment. Originally a popular choice in Japan and the United States, the four-door sedan and five-door wagon variants were your only choice if you wanted the IS. There was no two-door coupe as demand was simply not that high for it back then. Fast forward to 2006 and the new generation, and things have drastically changed. Performance luxury coupes were fast outselling sedans and nowhere was this more apparent than with BMW’s M3 and Mercedes’ C63. To avoid competing with the much more capable Germans, Lexus offered a convertible version only. It wasn’t until 2015 and the third-generation IS that the highly-anticipated coupe version finally made its debut. Weirdly enough, it sported the RC F moniker rather than the IS.
Though the design is borrowed from its IS sibling heavily, the RC F is a bespoke product in terms of marketing placement. The aggressive design with lots of creases, sharp edges and bold lines makes it immediately apparent that something sinister lies beneath the alien-looking exterior. Lexus claims it pays tribute to the legendary LFA super car, but we’re not seeing that. Make no mistake, this is not a GT-R rival although it looks like it could be. It’s not a super car-killer the GT-R is, but rather a high-performance version of the standard RC destined to compete with the M4 and the C63 AMG, as well as the RS5.
From the outside, it’s not difficult to distinguish it from the normal RC Coupe. The aggressive styling with massively flared arches and a signature Lexus Spindle Grille make it immediately apparent that it’s something much more special than just a plain RC. The hood boasts a large dimple, but it’s a case of form follows function. The large V8 had to rest somewhere, and the hood needed to accommodate it. But more on the beastly engine later.
Both front and rear fascias get L-shaped air outlets to channel hot air from the hood and extract it into the atmosphere. The lower halves of both connect via the bottom part of the door, creating one continuous line. The front end is littered with strategically placed fins which stabilize the large coupe at extremely high speeds. Not the stuff one would expect from Lexus, but we said the same when the LFA debut, so nothing can surprise us anymore.
Out back the RC F boasts a new sports exhaust system carrying over the same stacked trapezoidal quad tailpipes like the ones found in the IS F. The best part? It’s elegant and sleek when stationary, with no nonsense spoilers to ruin the flowing design, but take it above 50 mph and you’ll notice a speed-sensitive active rear spoiler pop out from the top of the trunk. It retracts when the speed drops below 25 mph. Available with lots of carbon fiber elements and a choice of three different ten-spoke 19-inch forged aluminum wheels, buyers can customize the exterior far more than what the M4 allows.
Perhaps even more breathtaking than the exterior, the interior follows the same aggressive and sporty design, but because this is Lexus, everything you see and touch feels completely bespoke. Lexus tried to match the LFA’s unique character and vibe, and for the most part we’d agree that they’ve achieved just that. Whether you’re looking to just cruise or do track days in, the RC F’s cabin is an extremely nice place to be in. The steering wheel, the seats, all of the gauges and even the pedals are one-offs fabricated for the RC F models. The seats can be wrapped in smooth leather and come in three color choices, with a special foaming construction designed to keep the occupants in place under extreme G-forces. You can technically fit adults in the back row, but ideally only for short journeys and if you really, really have to.
Alcantara is scattered everywhere throughout the cabin, as is premium leather, with aluminum and carbon fiber trim piece accessories finishing off the entire look. The TFT display encased in a machined-aluminum ring showcases all vital driving information, turning the rev counter red as you pop the F-Sport button on. The 10-speaker sound system with 256 watts is amazing, but true audiophiles will no doubt want the 835 watt, 360-degree three-dimensional sonic Mark Levinson sound system. To say it’s anything short of staggering would be an understatement.
Unlike its German rivals, which focus mostly on the sporty side and less on the luxury, the RC F offers a much better balance of both. It also uses a naturally-aspirated, screaming V8, as opposed to the turbocharged units used over in Germany. The engine in question is a 5.0 liter, 32-valve V8 pushing out 348 kilowatts and 527 Nm of torque. It’s also the first sports car to use the Atkinson cycle in an effort to lower fuel consumption and emissions when cruising. The big V8 is mated to a close-ratio eight-speed automatic with a Torque Vectoring Differential. The RC F can sprint to 100 km/h in just 4.4 seconds and run the quarter-mile in 12.5 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 275 km/h, 25 km/h more than the equivalent Beemers and Mercs.
Front and rear suspension systems are completely independent using monotube, gas-filled shock absorbers and ball-jointed stabilizer bars. The Torque Vectoring Differential (TVD) offers three different driving modes: standard, slalom and track. For a large coupe, the RC F is amazingly competent in the bends. It will understeer at the very limit as a precaution programmed in from Lexus, but turn all systems off and it has no issues lighting up the rears in induced oversteer.
Will it beat an M4 or a C63 AMG Coupe on a track? Definitely not. But that’s missing the point. As a real-world performer, we’d argue that the RC F is more competent than both. It’s just as fast on A and B roads, with the added benefit that you get to enjoy sumptuous luxury and Lexus refinement. It also helps that the 5 liter V8 screams like a race cars’ unit at anything beyond 5 grand. A real joy to drive.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard about the new Porsche 911 GT3 and its RS hardcore variant. How could you not have? Every magazine has been praising it and every schoolboy’s bought an RS poster just to hang it up on his bedroom wall. It’s been called the sportscar of the decade, the bargain of the century and even a supercar. Well, the simple fact of the matter is that it probably IS the greatest sportscar ever made, and we’ll tell you exactly why. To further differentiate the “standard” GT3 from the insane GT3 RS variant, we’ve decided to compare the two and highlight the differences between them.
The normal GT3 looks like, well, a GT3 racecar for the road. It’s wider, lower and more aggressive than your run-of-the-mill 991 911. Almost everyone bar those partially blind can tell the difference between it and the regular car. That’s mostly down to one thing: that huge rear wing. You can’t ignore it can you? It’s just there, sitting tall and proud. For 2017 Porsche has redesigned the bumper lights and the air intakes, bringing it more in-line with the new Carrera. The air intake layout is especially interesting, since it seems to be remarkably similar to the one found on the Cayman GT4. Headlights and taillights get a slight revision, as does the decklid and the bumper at the back.
Then, there’s the GT3 RS, and you really can’t miss this one even if you are blind. For starters, the front bumper has been completely redesigned sporting larger air intakes big enough to engulf a small child altogether, thinner LED stripes and a huge splitter. The front fenders get louvers, and that’s a first on any production Porsche. They’re not just aesthetic however. They provide actual downforce at the front axle, pushing down on the tires, providing more turn-in and stability. The rear fenders get intakes similar to those found on the 911 Turbo variants and revised side skirts with an all-new wheel design round off the look. Well, that and the ridiculous rear wing. If you thought the GT3 had a large wing, wait till you see the RS’ fixed one. The weird thing is that it doesn’t look out of place, especially since you have the splitters and the louvers. It really does give off the impression that it’s a well thought out package, mostly because it is.
We’ll just touch base on the interior and move on, since it’s the usual Porsche stuff you expect to find. The GT3 RS bases its cabin on its younger GT3 sibling, boasting some RS badging, Alcantara all around and a sportier layout. The bucket seats were ripped straight out of the 918 Spyder and offer more support as well. A Club Sport Package is standard on the RS, offering a bolt-in roll cage, battery master switch preparation and a six-point safety harness for the driver along with a fire extinguisher should things go wrong, which hopefully they won’t. If you’re after even more race-ready equipment, there’s always the Sport Chrono Package with integrated timers and Porsche’s very own Track Precision app. It measures lap times automatically via GPS, logging data on a smartphone. A useful feature to compare your laptimes and measure up against your mates at the end of the day.
This is the 911’s crowning jewel. The standard GT3 houses a 3.8 liter flat-six Boxer engine at the back, producing 354 glorious naturally-aspirated Kilowatts and 439Nm of torque. By contrast, the GT3 RS uses a bigger 4.0 liter flat-six unit with 373 Kilowatts (18 more than the GT3) and 459Nm of torque. The two units might not seem that different on paper, but the way they go on about delivering their power is anything but. For instance, the GT3 RS does indeed feel more powerful, and you can feel the extra kilowatt difference, but they get delivered slightly lower down in the rev range. When we say slightly we mean that it “only” revs to 8,250 rpm, whereas the GT3’s unit, because of its smaller displacement and titanium connecting rods with forged pistons, goes all the way to 9,000 rpm. Just imagine that. A six-cylinder horizontally-opposed engine screaming at bike-rivaling revolutions per minute. If you think it sounds glorious, you’d be right.
Both engines use Porsche’s brilliant 7-speed PDK transmission, but the 2017 GT3 might see the addition of a third pedal and a manual shifter. Porsche isn’t revealing anything just yet, but it’s almost certainly going to happen. Finally, after years of complaining about the lack of manual, we finally might get our wish.
If you’re purely after a track car, go for the GT3 RS, no question about it. It’s got more aero, 20mm wider tracks at the front and rear, a revised suspension and more power. It is, for all intents and purposes, the faster car. Period. However, don’t mistake it for being the better car. On the road, the GT3 is just as fast as the RS, and arguably even more fun. The lack of the RS’ trick aero means it’s much more willing to dance and it’s just amazing getting to rev it out to 9,000 rpm. It looks slightly more mannered and if you choose to leave the roll cage out, it’s much more livable with on a day to day basis.
It’s a matter of picking your poison really. Do you want something which will annihilate every other car on the track, or the best sportscar ever made capable of demolishing any B-road? Porsche has you covered on both fronts, and it’s a win-win situation either way you go.