Sadly, I missed out on the 2019 Lexus RC F Track Edition since it was only available on the West Coast for a limited amount of time, however, since then I got the chance to drive the 2020 RC F, which has been lightened by 55lbs over the previous model. As luck would have it, I was able to get seat time in the 2021 Lexus RC F Fuji Speedway Edition, named after the Fuji Speedway motorsport race track standing in the shadows of Mount Fuji, in Oyama, Japan.
What makes it a Fuji Speedway Edition?
Lots of weight reduction, in fact, 175 lbs. worth by adding Brembo Carbon Ceramic brakes, a titanium exhaust, and extensive use of carbon fiber aerodynamics including the hood, roof, rear wing, front splitter, and rear seatback. Lexus claims it will go from 0-60 in an estimated 3.96 seconds, which we couldn’t replicate but we had a lot of fun trying.
You’ll also lose the memory seat options as well as seat heating and cooling but all that isn’t missed once you start driving it. It’s also only available in two colors Arctic Blast Satin or Cloudburst Gray. Arctic Blast Satin is a Lexus-first, it’s a unique white paint with a semi-matte finish which Lexus says is durable enough to go through an automatic car wash. Inside, there’s only one-color choice and that’s Circuit Red leather-trimmed seats with Alcantara accents.
Included with the purchase of every RC F Fuji Speedway Edition (only 60 units) will be a limited production MSTR automatic movement watch which had obviously been removed from my tester.
Lexus is aiming the RC F as a direct competitor to the BMW M4 and the Mercedes-AMG C 63 AMG, and I think that this time, with the Fuji Edition they may have actually pulled it off.
So what makes it go?
It’s one of my favorite V8’s ever, the glorious 5.0-liter produces 472 hp @ 7,100 rpm and 395 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm mated to a quick-shifting 8 speed Aisin automatic transmission that’s an absolute gem. Sure, it has less power than its rivals, but it makes up for that by having tons of soul.
The Fuji means business, so it needed to look even more aggressive, that rear wing is positively menacing in the rearview mirror and the four tailpipes (all real) add to that. At the front, the huge black grille is framed by a carbon-fiber splitter and two aggressive air intakes at each side to cool the brakes. It looks fantastic!
Hunkered down on the road
There are various drive modes to choose from including Eco, Normal, Sport S, and Sport S+, you simply ignore the first two and choose one of the Sport options. Lexus has swapped out the standard Torque Vectoring Differential for a Torsen unit that provides better traction and power delivery for both track and road.
There’s a definite change in the way the Fuji drives, it’s more purposeful and hunkered down, the brakes feel like they’ll stop a freight train and the steering has tremendous feel and accuracy. This all makes it an absolute joy to drive, mash the go pedal, and the 8-speed rattles off ratios like an Uzi, and the corners arrive fast meaning a dab on the brakes and back on the gas, while the four titanium barrels at the rear blast out a wonderful hard-edged sound. The V8’s wail in the upper reaches of the rev range is intoxicating and the engine is always wanting to give more without a complaint. It’s by far one of the best naturally aspirated V8’s I have driven.
You can attack more in this car, it wants to go fast, there’s a sensation of less weight and way more control. Approach a corner fast and the nose turns in and the back pushes you out, with occasional help from the traction control system if you overdo it. The steering is about as good as it gets, confidence-inspiring, and has plenty of feedback, and grip is phenomenal thanks to the Michelin Pilot 4s all around.
The 8-speed transmission works seamlessly with the V8, holding gears perfectly in the engine’s sweet spot. Lexus has reprogrammed it for the Fuji and it never skipped a beat, always finding the perfect ratio to storm out of the turns and onto the next straight. Mash the throttle from a standstill and you are rewarded with a surge of pure acceleration accompanied by a high-pitched rumbling from the stacked exhaust pipes, which is all real, no fake noise here.
Sport and Sport + modes are much firmer in the Fuji and you will get bumped around a little on all but the smoothest pavement, it really does feel like a GT race car. The good news is you can set it to Normal mode, and it’s happy to handle a morning commute, soaking up potholes and producing a comfortable, quiet, and reasonably. Select Sport + mode Dr. Jekyll quickly becomes Mr. Hyde.
Everything about the Lexus RC F Fuji oozes luxury and it smells good too, the 10-way power seats are extremely comfortable, and the Alcantara inserts provide plenty of grip and support. Lexus’s premium infotainment system has a 12.3-inch screen, Sat Nav, and a multimedia interface that looks super cool, but is clunky to use with its not-so-friendly touch pad.
The dash is an interesting mixture of analog and digital gauges that seem odd at first but work well. The large digital tachometer changes when you switch drive modes going from cool blue in Eco mode to angry red in Sport + mode, which makes perfect sense. The RC F Fuji comes standard with adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, and automatic high beams.
Pricing is set at $97,100 some $30K more than the standard RC F my tester had some options including LED headlamps ($1,160), Navigation Package with Mark Levinson Audio (2,725), and Intuitive Park Assist ($500) taking the price to $102,510 including destination.
I think Lexus should delete the rear seats and create some additional cargo space since you need to be quite small or work for Cirque du Soleil to fit back there. Other than that, there’s not much to fault, Lexus has done an impressive job with the weight reduction in this car making it, in my opinion, the best driving Lexus yet. If you are one of the lucky 60 who get to own one of these, don’t leave it in your garage, drive it because the RC F Fuji is simply sensational!
2021 Lexus RC-F Fuji Speedway Edition Numbers
BASE PRICE: – $97,100
PRICE AS TESTED: – $102,510
VEHICLE LAYOUT: – Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
ENGINE: – 5.0 liter, DOHC 32-valve Atkinson-capable V-8
POWER: – 472 hp @ 7,100 rpm
TORQUE:- 395 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
TRANSMISSION:- 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
CURB WEIGHT: – 3,720 lb (est)
0-60 MPH: – 3.9 seconds
TOP SPEED: – 168 mph
EPA CITY/HWY/COMBINED: – 16/24/19 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: – 12.5 mpg
CARGO SPACE: – 10.4 ft³
PROS: – Glorious V8 wail, super quick transmission, lighter and faster, superb handling
CONS: – Only 60 available