The thought of spending a week in an hyper-limited, track-focused special edition vehicle with a large, high-revving naturally aspirated V8 is damn exciting. These are the things car enthusiasts dream of, right? Unfortunately, reality rarely lives up to our dreams, and this is certainly the case with the 2021 Lexus RC F Fuji Speedway Edition.
- Excellent build quality
- Strong carbon ceramic brakes
I do not like
- Lazy transmission
- Hard ride
- Too expensive
On paper, the RC F Fuji edition looks great. It has tons of carbon fiber, carbon ceramic brakes, and the 5.0-liter 2UR-GSE V8 you’ll find in high-performance cars like the, the beloved IS F and the new . That engine produces a respectable 472 horsepower at 7,100 rpm and 395 foot-pounds of torque at 4,800 rpm, but this is where the RC F’s disappointments begin.
This engine certainly screams in its upper registers, as evidenced by the revs at which it gives maximum power. This is where the V8 is exciting, responsive and alive. Unfortunately, at the bottom of its rev range, the 5.0-liter V8 runs on the Atkinson cycle, the same efficiency-focused cycle Toyota uses in its hybrids. This means valve timing changes to focus on fuel efficiency at the expense of power, torque and responsiveness.
2021 Lexus RC F Fuji Speedway Edition – at least it sounds good
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On paper, having a more efficient car at speed around town sounds good, but it actually makes a track-focused beast look like the dead, unexciting RC F. If this were anything but a top sports model, I’d be less critical, but in a car like this, with a big carbon wing, hyper-aggressive styling and a hefty price tag, it feels like a huge misstep. I want my big naturally aspirated V8 to kick ass all the time, and that doesn’t.
That V8 is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the engine, the transmission works well in the city but disappoints the driver on good canyon roads. It shifts slower than some of the eight-speed ZF boxes I’ve experienced and, again, in a track-focused car, it doesn’t have to be. At least this transmission is paired with a lockable rear differential that works as advertised and is a welcome addition to the RC F.
The suspension of the RC F Fuji is another area that should be impressive solely based on its specs, but it falls short of the hype. The double wishbone front suspension features Sachs adaptive shock absorbers and a hollow front stabilizer bar. The back uses a multi-link design. The whole setup is extremely stiff and unsightly in the city, but doesn’t do a great job of controlling the RC F in high-speed driving. Also, I find it hard to trust the car to stay planted while moving on fast canyon roads because it never feels truly stable. Even the RC F’s vague electronic power steering does a poor job of providing feedback to the driver, adding to that general lack of confidence on the road.
Arguably the best thing about the Fuji is its 14.9-inch Brembo carbon ceramic brake set. The RC F is a heavy car with a curb weight of 3,781 pounds (121 pounds lighter than the standard RC F) and with nearly 500hp on tap, these unflappable brakes are a welcome addition to repeatable and confidence-inspiring stopping. . Together with the reasonably sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, the RC F’s overall grip is good, despite the problems I have with the suspension.
The cockpit of the RC F is a sea of leather, Alcantara, carbon fiber and buttons. At 6 feet 4 inches, I’m certainly taller than most drivers, but I struggle to feel comfortable in any position. The seats are gorgeous and probably a great help for smaller drivers, but after an hour in the canyons, I feel like they’re punching me in the kidneys, and that’s no fun. Head height could also be better, considering the lack of a moonroof in the carbon-roofed Fuji. The BMW M4 offers more headroom (and helmets), but at least the RC F has plenty of legroom. The entire cabin is exquisitely built with fine materials, at least, a hallmark of Lexus products.
The RC F lacks blind spot monitoring (thanks to its carbon fiber side mirrors) and rear cross traffic warning, but at least it features adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beam, exit warning. lane and the like. But while the security suite is only OK, the infotainment system is pretty bad. The RC F doesn’t have a touchscreen, but thankfullyAnd they’re standard, and my test vehicle is equipped with the optional Mark Levinson audio package – a mandatory addition for any Lexus, as far as I’m concerned. The Lexus Enform system is problematic due to its clunky interface and slow response, not to mention the picky trackpad which is difficult to use while driving.
The RC F Fuji Speedway Edition has a starting price of $ 98,275, including Lexus’ $ 1,075 destination tax. That’s a premium of over $ 30,000 over the standard RC F, so what, besides exclusivity and carbon ceramic brakes, does Lexus offer buyers for that money? The big aesthetic differences are the carbon fiber hood, rear wing, roof, front lip and side skirts, as well as the red leather and Alcantara interior with carbon trim. There’s also a titanium exhaust system, forged BBS wheels, and the aforementioned torque vector rear end.
But it’s worth it? In short, no. The RC F Fuji Speedway Edition is not a very good car on public roads and neither is it fun on the winding sections of canyon roads. It might be fine on a racetrack as the name suggests (although I can’t confirm it), but with its punishing ride, cramped interior, and underwhelming drivetrain, I can’t imagine choosing this over any other sports car at this price point. For the price of $ 102,510 as tested of this RC F, I’d rather have a basic Porsche 911, which is both a better sports car and a much more livable everyday driver.
For 2022, Lexus has decided to extend the Fuji Speedway Edition by an additional 50 units. The company also added a new color – a cool blue called Electric Surge – and gave Fuji a new 19-inch wheelset. Unfortunately, these updates do nothing to increase the appeal of this super tough sell.