Q+A With Lexus RC F, GS F Chief Engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi
The man behind the newest F cars.
Lexus is putting serious effort into building performance cars, with both the 2015 Lexus RC F coupe and the 2016 Lexus GS F sedan packing a 467-hp punch from a 5.0-liter V-8 engine. But what else makes those cars special? To find out, we talked to Lexus RC F and GS F chief engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi.
AUTOMOBILE: What performance developments unique to the 2016 Lexus GS F are you most proud of?
YAGUCHI: I am proud of the seamless switch from public-road to track driving, which is the signature of F [Lexus' name for performance cars]. In the GS F, this transition is remarkable as the car is strong, feeling uncompromised for its purpose in both situations. Often, it is hard to keep good a track car feeling luxurious on public roads.
A: What specifically changes when you switch between standard, sport and track modes on the 2016 Lexus GS F?
Y: Sport mode is one of the car's drive modes and track mode is the one of the TVD [Torque Vectoring Differential] modes. In addition to TVD operation and the degree of torque vectoring, the steering feel/weight changes as well as transmission response, shift points, and throttle blipping with each mode.
A: What styling elements are unique to the 2016 Lexus GS F, and how do they move the F performance style forward?
Y: We included several F design cues, such as a mesh grille, on the GS F. The front fenders, hood, and fascia are unique and add visible length. There is also a rear diffuser and four exhaust outlets. The styling elements are also aerodynamic elements that help manage airflow around the car at speed.
A: Was there any thought given to increasing power given that the Lexus GS F is bigger and heavier than the RC F, or are you confident it will perform with sedans in the similar class?
Y: The cars' performance is almost the same so I want customers to choose which they like: sedan or coupe between RC F and GS F, as that is a matter of taste. The GS F will offer a Lexus F brand performance experience with a focus on fun and an easy-to-drive experience, while balancing its street and track character.
A: Other performance brands are moving heavily into turbocharging. What advantages does a naturally aspirated V-8 offer over the competition?
Y: Response, sound, seamless power delivery -- those are the three key elements to the F brand experience, and a naturally aspirated engine gives drivers predictable power, and builds confidence in tandem with the rest of the vehicle system tuning.
A: Would an engine smaller than the V-8 ever be considered for an F performance model?
Y: No. I think the V-8 is the sportiest and it meets the power and fuel economy targets with a combination of Atkinson/Otto cycle operation. The sound is a very important part of the experience, I feel.
A: The F performance brand is now been expanded to two main line models. How much further would you like to expand it?
Y: We don't have future plans yet that we can share, but the F brand is a key part of Lexus globally going forward.
A: Is there a desire or need to create another halo type vehicle along the lines of the Lexus LFA as an ultimate expression of the F performance brand?
Y: The Lexus RC F-based race car will take that responsibility instead. The RC F GT3 story will evolve in the coming year to help become an ultimate expression of F brand globally.