The most impressive thing about the Lexus RC F Track Edition compared to a regular RC F is that it lives up to the promise.
Those big carbon-ceramic brakes can go lap after lap, even despite the fairly tall order of having to haul up 1715kg; the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres are grippy yet durable; and, partly thanks to a new transmission oil cooler, even in high ambient temperatures you’ll be getting hot and bothered long before the naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 does. Ah, yes, Toyota reliability. Sorry, Lexus reliability...
It’s even half effective when it comes to the stopwatch, the Track Edition’s stiffer, bodyroll-resisting chassis, dependable brakes and grippier rubber helping it lap just 0.7sec shy of the much more powerful Camaro ZL1, itself hardly an under-tyred or under-braked car.
But the bigger question in all of this is: unlike the ZL1, would you want to belt the Track Edition around for lap after lap, even if it can do it?
According to our judges, it seems you will pull into the pits having had your fix long before the brakes, engine or transmission need cooling down. And that’s owing to the fact that, while 65kg lighter than the regular RC F – giving it a poofteenth more verve – the Track Edition is still a heavy car, a dirty big lump of V8 between the front strut towers very much still noticeable.
The car also just feels a bit old; the steering, while quick in rack and with plenty of lock (great for skids), could be straight from 2010, and to be honest it probably is.
It’s not fast enough for how much it costs, either. The Track Edition, while being the quickest Lexus since the LFA, only managed 4.79sec to 100km/h, almost half a second short of its 4.3sec claim and, frankly, a time that would see rivals like the M4 and C63 S blast it into the weeds.
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Don’t think that we’re hating on the Track Edition, though. Popular with everyone on PCOTY for its myriad delightful details – from the discoloured titanium exhaust tips to the gorgeous carbonfibre fixed rear wing – the Track Edition also garners affection for being a wholly Japanese performance car (oh hey, Supra).
The engine is still a gem and sounds great, a loud, revvy V8 intake note burbling up from deep within the dash, and it’s much more eager to rotate on the brake into corners than a regular RC F, making it a very willing drifter. But while $165K might get you a bit of rarity in the Track Edition, you can simply go a lot faster, and have a lot more fun, for a lot less.
Finding the finest on Performance Car of the Year 2020
2020 LEXUS RC F TRACK EDITION SPECS:
Engine: 4969cc V8, DOHC, 32v
Power: 351kW @ 7100rpm
Torque: 530Nm @ 4800-5600rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
0-400m: 12.90sec @ 182.33km/h
The Bend lap time: 1min 34.7sec
Dylan Campbell - 5th
"Not going to bother a C63 or an M4 for pace or poise, but tries hard to please. Succeeds."
Louis Cordony - 10th
"A bit lost on the road and track for me. Lovely brakes, though."
David Morley - =5th
"As much as I love the engine in the RC F, the track-spec bits don’t seem to gel."
Scott Newman - 9th
"An easy car to like, but confused personality and too expensive for what it offers."
Tim Robson - 6th
"Great engine and newfound chassis suppleness, but can’t overcome its heft."
PCOTY 2020 Scoring