Lexus introduced the world to all-new RC Coupe at the Tokyo Motor Show last November, and for us it was love at first sight. Of course, our first question was “When can we drive it?”, and that question was answered earlier this month, when I was invited out to Monticello Motor Club to test out the entire RC family (Lexus RC 350, RC 350 F SPORT, and RC F) on their amazing 3.6 mile, 18-turn race track.
We were most interested in driving the 2015 Lexus RC F, the brand’s high performance coupe which faces off against such powerhouses as the BMW M4, Audi RS5, and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. Boasting the most powerful V8 performance ever developed by Lexus, the 5.0L engine pumps out 467HP and 388 lb-ft of torque. It’s backed up by a close-ratio eight-speed Sports Program Direct Shift transmission and available Torque Vectoring Differential. The RC F does 0-60 in a scant 4.4 seconds and the 1/4-mile in 12.5 seconds, on it’s way to a top speed of 170 mph. Needless to say, this isn’t your “typical” Lexus, not by a long shot.
Now there are a slew of technical details about the car, and Lexus does a great job of outlining them in their press release, so if you’re dying to know the nitty-gritty details, be sure to check that out. For me, the three important facts were curb weight (3958 lbs), weight distribution (55/45), and coefficient of drag (0.33).
Lexus developed the RC F to excel on the track as well as the road. Body rigidity, suspension, brakes, tires and all other systems were developed with the expectation that RC F owners would be taking their cars to track day events. And not on trailers, but actually driving their own cars to the track.
So that’s exactly what we did, driving the RC F nearly two hours from Westchester to Monticello on a variety of highways and back roads, to see if it could actually be someone’s daily driver. In a word – Yes. The RC F has a surprisingly comfortable ride, and the exhaust note is also pretty quiet (until you give it some throttle, and then you’re rewarded with one of the most intoxicating exhaust growl you’ve ever heard).
Once we arrived at Monticello, we had a quick informational session where we learned about the intricacies of the track, and then they let us loose to start driving. I jumped into a Molten Pearl RC F, turned on Sport S+ mode, and waited for my turn to go. I took it easy on the first few laps as I got acquainted with the track, and then I really started to push the RC F. Let me tell you, the car is an absolute monster on the track – It’s well balanced, has an unbelievable amount of grip in the corners, gobs of power for those straightaways, and the brakes do a great job of shaving off speed in a hurry, with no fade in sight.
Visually, it’s impossible to overlook the RC F, between the radical styling and the seven “look at me” exterior colors: Ultra White, Nebula Gray Pearl, Liquid Platinum, Obsidian, Infrared, Molten Pearl and Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0. You’ll either love the styling or you’ll hate it, there’s really no in between here. I think the designers took a real chance with the RC’s styling, but they knocked it out of the park.
The interior of the RC F has all of the luxury features you’d expect from a Lexus, but with a sportier feel. The sports seats are fantastic, supportive yet not overly bolstered, the perfect balance for a car that pulls double duty. The infotainment system is top notch, and the Remote Touch Interface received the same update that the Lexus NX did, replacing the often frustrating joystick with a touchpad that’s a little easier to use.
Furthermore, if you opt for the 17-speaker Mark Levinson Surround System, prepare to be blown away by 835 watts of high fidelity. In addition to the great sound you’ve come to expect from a Mark Levinson system, it also offers Clari-Fi music restoration technology, which reverses the effect of digital compression and brings your music back to life. We got a demonstration of this firsthand, and it’s really pretty incredible!
Overall, I was REALLY impressed with how well the Lexus RC F performed, both on and off the race track. It’s clear that Lexus engineers took the lessons learned from the IS F & LFA and applied them to the RC F, and the result is a world-class high performance sports car that’s designed to be fun to drive for any driver, regardless of their level of driving skill.
If I had a spare $63,225 laying around (that’s how much the RC F starts at), I might be tempted to purchase one of these bad boys. But since I don’t, I’ll have to simply revel in the memories of my day at Monticello with the Lexus RC F.
If you’re looking for a fun sports car that you can take to the track on the weekend, and you’re not afraid of some edgy styling, the 2015 Lexus RC F is just the ticket!
Visit http://www.lexus.com/concept/RCF to learn more about the Lexus RC F.
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Gets A Substantial Power Boost, Higher Redline
When we drove the current-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, it didn’t take long for us to fall for it, as it offers one of the purest driving experiences out there. In fact, we described the ND as “the most fun you can have for under $30K”. And that’s a statement I’ll stand by today.
If you’re looking for a car that will deliver maximum smiles per hour as you go flat out through the twisties, it honestly doesn’t get much better than this. Seriously, if I lived in an area with fun roads (and less snow), there’d be a Miata parked in my garage right now.
Still.. a little extra power would be nice, as the Miata only has 155 horsepower on tap, which is less than the Fiat 124 Spider, even though they’re essentially the same cars!
But that’s about to change. The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata gets a substantial bump in power, with 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, with a richer torque curve throughout the car’s entire rev range. And the redline has increased from 6,800 rpm to 7,500 rpm.
While an additional 26 HP might not sound like much, it’s all about the power-to-weight ratio. The Miata is a lightweight car in it’s own right, weighing in at 2,300 pounds and change, which is 1,000 less than most “regular” cars. Coupled with the better torque curve, it’s going to make a HUGE difference in the way the car drives. Zoom-Zoom!
Mazda says the new MX-5 is quicker, more responsive and aims to be more engaging to drive, adhering to Mazda’s unique Jinba Ittai — “horse and rider as one” — engineering philosophy.
Beyond the engine improvements, the 2019 MX-5 introduces an available brown canvas soft top, new black metallic 17-inch wheels, a newly telescoping steering wheel (30mm of travel), easier-to-open doors and revised door stops and revised cupholders and seat levers. There are also some additional safety features.
The 2019 Mazda MX-5 will be available in the U.S. this fall, with pricing, packaging and full specifications to be announced closer to on-sale timing.
Of course, the age old question.. Go with a new 2019 Miata, or get a left-over ’18 model for a big discount? Decisions, decisions..
The 2019 BMW 8 Series Is The Luxury Super Coupe We’ve Been Waiting For
When BMW unveiled the Concept 8 Series last year, it caused quite a stir for obvious reasons. After all, it had been nearly 20 years since the last 8 Series rolled off the production line back in 1999, and we had long given up on BMW ever bringing back the storied nameplate.
But was the Bavarian car company just teasing us with another sexy concept that wouldn’t see the light of day, as is so often the case?
Today, we got our answer, with the introduction of the all-new 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe, a luxury sports coupe that is ready to take on the competition with outstanding performance, beautiful design and state of the art technology.
The directive for the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe’s design was to provide a thrilling driving experience. Body, powertrain and suspension were honed to achieve the agility, precision and poise expected of a top-class luxury sports coupe.
Styling wise, the production model stays fairly true to the concept, exuding “a very modern form of sporting appeal beautifully blended with an air of exclusiveness and sensual allure.” The 8 Series is the first model to show off BMW’s new design language that is focusing on modernity and emotional engagement.
The car’s low-slung design, an elongated silhouette with a slim window pillars, a roofline with a distinctive “double-bubble” contouring, a long wheelbase and wide track are the defining elements of the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe’s proportions.
The first variant to launch, the BMW M850i xDrive, is powered by a new twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 that puts out a healthy 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, launching the car from 0-60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. And it will serve up an enthralling soundtrack along the way.
As the name suggests, the BMW M850i is equipped with xDrive rear-biased intelligent all-wheel drive, and it’s mated to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission that has been updated with wider ratios and sportier gear shifts. Shift paddles on the steering wheel are included as standard for manual gear selection, while a Launch Control function allows for accelerating from a standing start with maximum available traction.
Being BMW’s flagship vehicle, the car will come loaded with luxury features and technology, more than there’s space for here to go on about. But rest assured, you’ll be rolling around in the lap of luxury, and the envy of all of your neighbors.
Pricing for the BMW 8 Series Coupe will be released closer to its launch date this Fall.
What do you guys think about the 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe?
New 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350 Would Get Carroll’s Stamp Of Approval
When the 2018 Ford Mustang launched last Fall, there were a number of models for buyers to choose from (EcoBoost, GT, Performance Pack 1, Performance Pack 2, Bullitt). But one model that was noticeably absent from the list was the track-ready Shelby GT350.
Like many others, I figured that Ford Performance was focused on the upcoming 2020 Shelby GT500, and that the Shelby GT350 would ultimately get phased out. But Ford surprised us the other day when they unveiled a new 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350 at a media event at M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan.
As you can see from these photos, the Shelby GT350 doesn’t adopt the 2018 Mustang’s styling updates, continues on with the same exterior design as before. Nor does it receive any changes under the hood, sticking with the glorious 5.2-liter flat-plane-crank V8 that puts out 526HP at 8,250 rpm and 429 lb-ft. Because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
So what is new? Ford Performance engineers and designers incorporated the latest advances in tire, aerodynamics and chassis technology into the 2019 Mustang Shelby GT350.
Working exclusively with Michelin, the team also engineered new Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires with a Shelby GT350-specific tread pattern and different compound to deliver more grip for significantly improved acceleration and lateral acceleration, as well as braking. These tires are wrapped around new 19-inch aluminum wheels.
An all-new rear spoiler with optional Gurney flap and optimized grille closeout was designed and tuned with experience gained from wind tunnel development of the Ford Performance Mustang road course racing cars and upcoming Shelby GT500 model. Together, they deliver significant rear greater aerodynamic efficiency when equipped with the new optional Gurney flap on the rear spoiler, which will be available after launch.
Upgrades to Shelby GT350’s standard MagneRide active suspension complement the aero and tire enhancements with recalibrated springs and revised damping to take full advantage of the improvements.
Stopping power is provided by six-piston front and four-piston rear caliper Brembo brakes. For added control and improved driver feedback, Shelby GT350’s electric power-assist steering and three-mode electronic stability control settings feature enhancements taken from Ford Performance’s hundreds of hours of competitive track testing.
The result of all of these tweaks and adjustments? A more balanced, higher-performing car on the straightaways and especially in the corners.
“The new Shelby GT350 is our ultimate track Mustang. We’ve stuck to Carroll Shelby’s original formula for winning championships and made our Shelby GT350 even better with the latest in race-proven aerodynamics, tire and chassis technology,” said Hermann Salenbauch, global director for Ford Performance vehicle programs.
Honestly, I didn’t think the Shelby GT350 could get any better than it already was, but clearly I was wrong. The new model will be the benchmark for the competition, and I can’t wait to get some seat time with it.. hopefully on a race track!