The Lexus RC F Track Edition Deserves the Name
We go for a few hot laps in the most aggressive Lexus since the LFA.
Mid-cycle refreshes of mid-pack luxury sports coupes typically aren't very interesting. But the 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition turns that notion on its side, delivering marked upgrades to the car that deliver the goods when it comes to track work. The 2020 Track Edition is the high-performance driving enthusiast's version of the also-updated standard 2020 RC F, with a handful of additional upgrades as the whipped cream and cherry on your Sunday driver.
All 2020 RC Fs get a thorough program of weight reduction, including a lighter aluminum intake manifold, a smaller air conditioner compressor, aluminum spring brackets, carbon-fiber bumper reinforcements, and hollow half shafts. It all adds up to 55 pounds saved over the previous model, but the Track Edition goes even farther, with its total savings adding up to a substantial 176 pounds.
The Track Edition's extra diet consisted mostly of reducing rotational and unsprung masses, which pay off even more than sprung mass in terms of dynamics. The biggest single weight savings comes from Brembo carbon-ceramic rotors, which drop a total of 48.5 pounds compared to the steel units. An additional 1.5 pounds are saved at each corner by the fitment of 19-inch forged BBS wheels based on those of the RC F GT3 race car. Titanium exhaust components save another 15 pounds, mostly at the rear of the car, and carbon fiber is used in several additional places to save weight and add rigidity, the roof, hood, and rear bulkhead brace being the primary components.
But it's not all about weight, even for a Track Edition car. If you want to go fast, you need power, and the RC F Track Edition has it by the bucketful. Lexus claims the Track sports the best power-to-weight ratio in its segment, with 472 horsepower and a claimed curb weight of 3,781 pounds returning a figure of eight pounds per pony. Yet despite its power-to-weight figure and despite Lexus shortening the final-drive ratio from 2.97 to 3.13, the sensation of power delivery is more gradual than explosive, largely because the RC F is powered by a normally aspirated V-8 instead of using forced induction like its competition. The engine unleashes its might with a pleasing rise and peak that combines with a glorious sound to make for an exciting on-track experience, even if it does lack some of the low-end shove of the torquier turbos. The RC F Track Edition's meaty V-8 is rated for just 395 lb-ft of torque.
Driving the Track Edition back-to-back with the standard 2020 RC F at The Thermal Club near Palm Springs, California, was eye-opening. The updates to the 2020 model make even the standard RC F a friendlier and livelier dance partner, but the Track Edition upgrades take the RC F from track-capable to track-ready. The difference is immediately apparent and appreciated even more after a few laps have heat-soaked the brakes and left the standard car's pedal feeling long and soft, even if they're still plenty able to stop the car. The Track Edition's upgraded brakes are indefatigable, and the carbon rotors and beefy (yet lightweight) six-piston front Brembo calipers make the car much more confidence-inspiring on the track, while retuned brake-pedal travel improves precision in application.
On track the power is ample, and the rear is always ready to rotate the nose toward the apex at turn-in, a tendency that's easier to modulate this time around thanks to the almost perfectly linear throttle mapping—there's no more artificially boosted throttle application in Sport+ mode. Likewise, the steering is neither too light nor too heavy, and inputs yield the expected outputs, with enough feel to have confidence in pushing the front end toward its grip limit. In all, the RC F Track Edition feels like it belongs on track as much as any other luxury sport coupe in its price range, and that's quite a compliment, considering it shares space with the BMW M4 Competition and AMG C63 S.
Unfortunately, despite the images you see here, there weren't enough cars yet built for us to also get drive time on public roads, so we can't tell you how that track-tuned strength translates to the street, or if it's a detriment to the overall comfort, quietness, and long-haul steadiness of the regular RC F. Hopefully we'll get another crack at it soon—and for a much longer stint.
Until then, we'll leave it at this: Our short drive indicates the 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition is the RC F you've been waiting for. If you have the $97,675 burning a hole in your pocket, you won't have to wait long. The additional cars we hoped would be at the event are now rolling off the assembly line and will be hitting dealerships soon.