Here comes the whispering sports car

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MOST £60,000 sports cars shout at you; the Lexus RC F, however, prefers to whisper.

It’s a supercar, capable of 60mph in 4.5 seconds and 168mph if pushed. And you only have to tickle the pedal to unleash a deep-throated roar which makes the hair on the back of your neck rise up.

The lines are smooth and potent but there is little of the machismo you might find in a Porsche

Steve Teale

But it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The lines are smooth and potent but there is little of the machismo you might find in a Porsche or the look-at-me boldness of a Maserati.

The RC F is a modest machine. Smart. Seductive. Polished. But restrained.

These things don’t happen on purpose so someone at Lexus must have decided that this car should be capable but shy. The result is a car with stunning performance which acquires admiring glances rather than stares.

So how does the RC F shape up? It’s a proper sports car with a clever but spartan compact cabin and excellent firm seats. The cabin is typical Toyota-Lexus in that it is of good quality and easy to use.

When you start the engine it sounds relatively modest. Certainly, you’d never guess it was a whopping V8 until you press the gas and suddenly it explodes into life.

The ride and handling is almost saloon car compared to some harder-than-hard sports cars but it does hold the road well and it is a very capable car.

It has plenty of ‘wow’ features. The rear lip of the boot incorporates an ‘active’ rear wing to optimise airflow and generate downforce for added stability at high speed.

The wing is automatically deployed at speeds above 50mph and retracts when vehicle speed falls below 25mph. The driver can also control wing deployment at any time from the cabin, or cockpit as Lexus call it.

But the key ingredient to this car is the engine. It is a new 5.0-litre V8 engine delivering 471bhp and 530Nm of torque, and an upgraded eight-speed Sports Direct Shift transmission that gives the driver a choice of five operating modes, from fuel-efficient Eco to full-blooded Sport S plus, plus an option to switch to manual, sequential shift control.

The engine is Lexus’s most powerful unit and - here’s one for petrolheads - it’s the world’s first use of Torque Vectoring Differential in a front engine, rear-wheel drive car.

It also has new Sport and Expert settings that let the driver safely exploit the car’s full performance capabilities.

The car comes fully loaded with a good selection of safety and comfort features.

Importantly, for such a powerful car, it has vehicle stability control, anti-lock brakes, brake assist and eight airbags.

It also comes with cruise control, superb sports seats, aluminium pedals and footrest, a premium navigation system, 10-speaker Pioneer sound system and leather upholstery. For such a compact cabin, it feels remarkably comfortable.

The RC F won’t appeal to everyone and it does have some very capable rivals for around the same price, but it does have a stunning engine. And if you want something different and don’t want to be too in-your-face, then this model is definitely worth considering.

Lexus RC F

PRICE: £66,415

ENGINE: A 4,969cc V8 engine delivering 471bhp

PERFORMANCE: Top speed 168mph and 0 to 60mph in 4.5 seconds

COSTS: Town 17.6mpg; country 36.2mpg; combined 26.2mpg

EMISSIONS: 252g/km

INSURANCE: Group 48E

WARRANTY: Three years, 60,000 miles

Rivals

Porsche Cayman GT4: At £64,451, it offers similar performance and great style in a more compact body. I prefer the Lexus V8 engine to the 3.8 litre V6 in the Cayman.

Mercedes-Benz SL 400: At £73,000 it offers similar price and performance and iconic styling. The Lexus exceeds the Mercedes-Benz in equipment and has a superior engine and is cheap by comparison.

Jaguar F-Type: From £51,775, it is the best rival for the Lexus. Looks good, drives well and although not as quick, it is a fantastic all-rounder.

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