2021 Lexus RC F Fuji Speedway Edition Review: What's in a Name?

Kshitij Sharma
by Kshitij Sharma
It’s no secret that the Lexus RC F had long been a far cry from a performance car.

It could be considered a cruiser, a great daily driver, and a long-distance coupe, but setting lap times had never been the Lexus coupe’s forte. And there are a few good reasons for that.

Lexus didn’t design the RC as a performance car from the outset. It’s essentially an IS coupe but shares its platform with the IS and the GS. And like most Lexus cars, its forte was getting from A to B with minimal effort. And until the LC came along, it was the only GT car in Lexus’ lineup. Due to its rather conservative demeanor, it was frequently taken to task for its lack of performance. But Lexus had had enough of everyone poking fun at its V8 coupe and decided to give it a little tune-up.

The result is the RC F Fuji Speedway Edition (or Track Edition, as this tester is called in Canada). Yes, it’s a little late to the party; the BMW M4 has had a generation change and the Mercedes C 63 now makes enough horsepower to power the moon. Lexus has gone around the RC F saving weight and sharpening its responses, but has it made a difference?

What’s new?

Did we mention the weight-saving measures? So anything deemed unnecessary or heavy has been ditched to make the 2021 RC F Track Edition as light as possible. Carbon-fiber replaces the traditional materials on the hood and roof, there are also carbon-fiber skirts all around the car. A new rear wing is also all-carbon-fiber and comes with an “F” etched on either side with a different weave. Very cool.

This hardcore RC F also now comes with a titanium exhaust, BBS wheels, re-tuned suspension, and carbon-ceramic brakes. A lot of the steel parts have been replaced with aluminum—it even uses a lighter AC compressor to save weight. There are other deletions as well but we will talk about them in just a bit. There is, however, no change to the output of the 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 motor. The upgrade to the Track Edition from the regular RC F costs $31,650 ($35,000 CAD).

Looks the part


Engine: 5.0L V8
Output: 472 hp, 398 lb-ft
Transmission: 8AT, RWD
US fuel economy (MPG): 16/24/19
CAN fuel economy (L/100KM): 14.4/9.6/12.2
Starting Price (USD): $98,275 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (USD): $98,275 (est, inc. dest.)
Starting Price (CAD): $122,565 (inc. dest.)
As-Tested Price (CAD): $122,565 (est, inc. dest.)

All the changes on paper aside, the 2021 Lexus RC F Track Edition (I hope Lexus adopts shorter names in the future) certainly looks the part. The carbon-fiber body panels give it a more tuner look, especially when paired with the available white paint. The rest of the carbon-fiber parts, like the skirtings and the non-adjustable wing, add to that purpose-built aesthetic.

Not many manufacturers can pull off massive front grilles and Lexus is not one of those OEMs. The hourglass grille on the RC F is just the right amount of aggressive and tame at the same time. Its best viewing angle is dead-on. Move to the side and the image of a beluga whale is difficult to shake when viewing the front quarter in profile. The design is a tad bulbous overall but the flared wheel arches and the busy body lines add a bit of edginess which contrasts rather well with the rounded front end.

The dwellings

There is no doubt that the RC F is old. And you can see that in the way the cabin is set up, which feels like it’s from 2015. Having said that, it is still very Lexus. Old it might be, but pedestrian it is not. The Track Edition is only available with the sportiest of interiors, which means it’s covered in red leather. Thankfully there is a fair amount of black leather on the dash to break up the monopoly of the predominantly red interior. The carbon-fiber panels with a red weave look quite cool as well. The front seats are comfortable and supportive enough to spend hours in; the rear seats however are inadequate for adults. You can, however, install a child seat back there with relative ease.

There are no heated seats and the Mark Levinson stereo has been binned as well, we suspect in the pursuit of weight saving. You can spec the Track Edition with the sound system for $2,725 extra. It is however not an option in Canada. Lexus’ infotainment system with trackpad controls is still at the center stage of the dash and remains infuriating to operate on the move. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard but that makes the operation only slightly easier. There is no getting away from that trackpad.

No replacement for displacement

The 5.0-liter V8 is the same engine that also powers the gorgeous LC 500 and the power output is identical at 472 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the recent crop of turbocharged engines, the naturally spirated V8 lacks a strong mid-range which means you need to wring the throttle to get going quickly. But then again, this is a naturally spirated V8, if you don’t want to wring it out at every chance you get, there’s something wrong with you.

SEE ALSO: 2021 Lexus LC 500 Coupe Review: Exquisite Express

The relatively conservative power output and lack of a strong mid-range also translate to a slower launch. Using launch control does make a difference but it is immensely complicated to get right and even after launch the initial push dissipates rather quickly. Though urgent, the acceleration isn’t as buried-in-your seat quick as the similarly priced M4. Curiously though, despite the titanium exhaust, the V8 isn’t as sonorous as it is in the LC. Don’t get me wrong, the progression of decibels, and the drone that quickly changes into a growl past 4,000 rpm and goes climbing till 7,000 rpm, is music to the ears—but it just isn’t as authoritative as the LC’s.

An ideal daily driver

When a manufacturer makes a track edition car, you are allowed to be wary of its ability to handle the daily grind. But that’s where the RC F Track Edition turns out to be a surprise. It reminds you that it still is an RC. In comfort mode, albeit still a hair stiffer than you would like it to be, the Track Edition handles the daily duties with aplomb.

It is just the right blend of sportiness and comfort to make driving in the city a breeze. The steering feels just light enough for those lock-to-lock turns. A softer suspension setup in comfort mode makes short work of most of what city roads can throw your way. Even mid-corner bumps don’t faze the “Track Edition.” The seating position is spot on and you can spend hours in the seats without feeling fatigued. It does get quite noisy on the highway thanks to the removal of insulation to reduce weight but it never feels unfazed or uncomfortable. It is as at home at 30 mph (50 km/h) in the city as it is at 70 mph (113 km/h) on the freeway.

Shift to Sport+ and the whole demeanor of the car changes. The steering weights up considerably and despite its age feels quite direct and provides plenty of feedback. The throttle response sharpens up considerably as does the eight-speed automatic transmission. Even at the slightest dab of the right foot, the RC responds instantly. Every pull of the paddle shifter results in an almost instantaneous shift. The upshifts seem a tad faster than downshifts, though. The whole car seems to come alive. As you increase the pressure from the right foot, the tacho needle races towards the redline, the engine growls and the transmission whirrs, coming suddenly alive (ASC has something to do with it maybe), yellow lights flash on the dash, you shift up and the cycle starts again. For a moment you feel you’re straddling a race car. It is a good feeling.

SEE ALSO: 2021 BMW M4 Competition Review: Smells Like Success

Approach a corner looking to brake late and no matter how late you are, that impeccable carbon-ceramic brake setup always has enough bite to get you slowed down in time to make the corner. The feel from the middle pedal is immense and the braking is progressive and confident. It is one of the best setups I’ve driven in the past year. Add to that a well-weighted steering with good feedback and you seem ready to attack the upcoming corner.

And that’s when the Track Edition falls apart. The suspension feels too stiff and it tends to bounce on bumps and is rarely ever able to put the power down on an exit. It also tends to oscillate mid-corner, shifting its weight from one side to the other. This also hampers grip and makes the Track Edition quite unpredictable in the corners.

The Sport mode, however, is the sweet spot where it rides and handles like a grand tourer. You also have the individual mode which lets you have the Sport+ power settings sans the stiffness. And the Sport+ specific tacho readout which is a bummer.

Verdict: 2021 Lexus RC F Track Edition Review

Starting at $98,275 (including destination) before options, the RC F Track Edition (Fuji Speedway Edition for US readers) is an expensive piece of kit. Speccing it out will set you back by $102,160. In Canada, you only get the one model priced at $122,565 including destination.

The RC F Track Edition with all its improvements is the best RC F model to date. Lexus couldn’t have extracted any more performance out of the aging platform and that is commendable. Also, you can never get enough of that naturally aspirated V8 rumble. But as a track tool, the RC F doesn’t handle nearly as well as the M4 which is its main competition price-wise. It also feels heavy in the corners and struggles with grip in Sport+ mode. It is however a fantastic daily driver and a capable grand tourer. But if you want a V8 grand tourer that looks the part while being both luxurious and a treat to drive, the LC 500 is the one to have.

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  • In cabin comfort
  • Great daily driver
  • Naturally aspirated V8


  • Doesn’t handle as well as the competition
  • Expensive
  • LC 500 is cheaper
Kshitij Sharma
Kshitij Sharma

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