SAYONARA TIME

Itís the final commitment ceremony. Will we stay or leave?

Ė SN

IíVE BEEN watching quite a bit of Married at First Sight. I know, I know... and no matter how hard I scrub, the shame doesnít disappear, but my girlfriend enjoys it and it has a similar sort of appeal to those Nurburgring crash videos that feature numerous Renault Clios and BMW M3s pinballing between the armco. Itís awkward, a bit painful, but compelling viewing nonetheless. Being paired with a long-termer is a similar process (to the show, that is, not crashing at the íRing). All of a sudden youíre living with a new car and expected to get along Ė or at least thatís what the public relations person at the car company hopes. Thankfully, we usually have some prior experience before being sandwiched together. In the case of the RC F this wasnít necessarily comforting, as while not without appeal, it hasnít exactly wowed us during previous encounters. Hmmm. Still, thatís why we do these tests, to see if longer exposure brings to light virtues (or flaws) a quick road test or comparison may miss. Spending the past four months with the Lexus RC F has certainly improved my opinion of it, albeit there are a few caveats, which Iíll get to in a moment. Some will never consider an RC F purely for the way it looks. And fair enough, itís a challenging design. Its snout is a bit bulbous and its Ďeyesí too squinty, but I actually donít mind it Ė in the right light (and no, not complete darkness) it looks quite cool. I was also one of the few who liked the carbon treatment, though youíd have to have rocks in your head to pay $20,597 for it, especially given the meagre 9.5kg weight loss. It would be an expensive option if it saved 10 times that amount. The highlight of the RC F is undoubtedly its engine. It sounds a bit contrived, but the way the engine note hardens substantially around 4000rpm never fails to entertain and with 10,000 hard press kilometres under its belt, the 5.0-litre V8 was feeling particularly healthy, powering 1800kg-odd of Lexus to 230km/h along Sandownís straights on a recent track outing. Unusually for such a heavy car, on track was where the RC F impressed most. Its brake stamina makes a mockery of the BMW M4ís standard setup and the Lexus will keep circulating long after a Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe has run out of rear rubber. Despite two fairly substantial track sessions and plenty of road use the RC Fís stoppers still had plenty of bite and the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres were hanging in there, though rear grip was beginning to suffer. A shout-out to the Expert ESP mode, too, which is brilliantly lenient and impressively subtle in its intervention. Now for the bad stuff: the ride is okay, but with adaptive dampers could be better; it wasnít driven with economy in mind, but an atmo V8 lugging a heavy car around led to a fairly serious thirst; worst of all, though, is the infotainment system, something you interact with every day. Lexus needs a complete rethink of its control interface as the current trackpad is at best infuriatingly unintuitive, at worst dangerous given the amount of attention it diverts from the road. Good stereo, though, and the seatsí heating and ventilating functions were both used during its stay. So would I buy a Lexus RC F? No. To return to the opening paragraph, if I was forced into the relationship Married at First Sight-style, weíd certainly find common ground and have an enjoyable time, but itís not my dream partner. For my money, the GS F is the more impressive Lexus Ė itís lighter, more practical and a better drive. Likewise, while the RC F is a grower, it canít deliver the instant adrenalin hit of its more powerful rivals from BMW and Mercedes; both would be more alluring on a quick test drive. However, early on in the RC Fís tenure I spied a car that would be the perfect choice if youíre looking for a screaming V8 coupe and I havenít been able to shake the thought since. It might be yesterdayís news, but the E92 M3 follows the same recipe as the Lexus, only with tastier ingredients. Itís true marriage material.

UNUSUALLY FOR SUCH A HEAVY CAR, ON TRACK WAS WHERE THE RC F IMPRESSED MOST

PROS and CONS