The philosophy of Lexus ‘F’ models

Lexus IS F F3Q
Lexus LFA F3Q
Lexus RC F F3Q

The relentless pursuit of perfection has led Lexus to consistently set new industry standards in design, engineering and construction.

In recent years, this practice has expanded to include the development of high-performance models on challenging race tracks around the world. The majority of testing work is carried out on Japan’s famous Fuji Speedway, which gave rise to a new ‘F’ designation for the manufacturer’s specialist high-performance derivatives.

Introduced with the skunkworks-style Lexus IS F and followed soon afterward by the groundbreaking LFA supercar, these ‘F’ models were more driver-focused and passion-arousing than any other cars in the company’s history. Now, with the unveiling of a third model in this race-honed portfolio – the new RC F coupe – we wanted to reveal some of the thinking, engineering and styling cues behind this evocative alpha designation.

Much more than a skin-deep makeover, high-performance Lexus F models employ motorsport engineering to deliver a unique perspective on driver engagement: refinement with a razor-sharp edge.

Take the powerplants as an example. Both the 417bhp 5.0-litre V8 of the IS F and 553bhp 4.8-litre V10 of the LFA were jointly developed by Yamaha, a technical partner that knows a thing or two about powerful, high-revving engines thanks to its superbike and Formula 1 programmes. The RC F’s 5.0-litre V8 is an extensively reworked version of the IS F powerplant and with around 460bhp will be the most powerful V8 in Lexus history. It also marks the first time that any Lexus engine has been able to switch between an Atkinson cycle for efficient cruising and an Otto cycle for high-rev power output.

Unlike other high-performance derivatives, Lexus F cars make use of automatic or automated gearboxes to deliver their distinctive blend of refinement and edginess. Shift speeds are lightning fast and designed to offer unrivalled linearity between accelerator inputs and engine response. In addition, power is transferred to the rear wheels via a torque-sensing limited-slip differential (not pre-2010 IS F), though the RC F enhances this virtue with world-first vectoring technology to direct torque to the wheel with the most traction.

F models vents

From an external perspective, F cars feature athletic proportions that are wider and lower than their regular counterparts (LFA excepted). Integrated into the designs are numerous aerodynamic enhancements that assist engine and brake cooling and improve downforce. This is particularly noticeable in the L-shape vents that flow seamlessly into the side skirts. Meanwhile, the wheels have always been BBS forged alloy constructions of a diameter sufficient to house oversized brakes clamped by multi-piston Brembo calipers.

IS F and RC F

Further distinctions on front-engine models include a sharper curve in the bonnet line, an addition originally necessary to clear the extra length of the V8 engine but one that has since become a signature styling cue.

LFA and RC F spoilers

Similarly, while the IS F made use of a subtle fixed boot spoiler, the later LFA and RC F models employ active rear wings that rise automatically at speed. And while we’re on the subject of rear ends, who can fail to miss an F model’s generous complement of exhaust outlets…

Lexus F exhaust stacks

Lexus F cars are born out of a pure passion for driving. The F division is dedicated to delivering a unique interpretation of raw driving thrills while also providing a new definition of usable power. But while these halo vehicles might be out of the reach of many, Lexus has ensured that the same DNA filters down into F Sport models available within each model line.

F Sport models can be visually identified by their expressive mesh grille and interior and exterior upgrades, as well as performance enhancements that affect the brakes, anti-roll bars, suspension, clutch and chassis.

Why not visit your local Lexus Centre and give a Fuji Speedway-honed car a try?

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