Thrashing the Lexus F Sport Lineup on an Autocross Course: First Drive

If you live under a rock, you might not know that Lexus is serious about becoming a performance powerhouse. What with the LFA back in 2010, and now with practically a full lineup of F Sport cars, there’s something to be said about Japan’s latest performance special. But is it really special? You might already know how much I adore the RC F, for reasons that I still don’t comprehend, and I have a general soft spot in my heart for the IS F. And then there’s the F Sport lineup spanning cars like the IS, RC, and even NX SUV. In order to see if it was indeed special, Lexus invited me to take out their latest F Sport editions on an autocross course in a big open parking lot in the middle of Miami. RELATED: See Photos of the Lexus LFA Supercar The first car I got in was the IS 350 F Sport. It looks magical for a mid-size luxury sedan. That massive grille, those aggressive wheels— it sort of reminds you of the iconic first-gen IS what with its boxy styling and cult following. And then I got on the 'track,' and it handled just like it should. Steering was heavy and precise, power was somewhat jumpy but there, and carving up the corners felt about as good as the new 3 Series. With only 306 horsepower, it’s definitely not beating cars like the BMW 3 Series in a straight line, though. Still, if I was going to rate it on a scale of 1-10 — which I am— I’d give it a solid 7.5. REVIEW: The Lexus RC F Puts Germany on Notice Next up was the GS 350 F Sport. I’ll preface this by saying that this car is immediately too big for me. As are the BMW 5 Series, Infiniti Q50 and whatever the hell Audi is selling these days. But I still wanted to see how well it drove and how well it handled, obviously. It only has 306 horsepower… which is the same as the IS 350, if you didn’t notice. That doesn’t sound like a lot initially, but when you compare it to the BMW 535 with its lowly 300 horsepower, you’re paying significantly less for the Lexus than you are the Bimmer ($48,600 vs $55,600). But then you see and feel why. Where the 5 Series still feels relatively fresh, the GS is in much need of an overhaul. The steering felt sluggish and the power was only slightly enough to get me turning hard into a few corners. That tuned suspension was a high point, though. On my nifty 1-10 scale I’ll give the GS F Sport about a 5.5. RELATED: See Photos of the 467HP Lexus GS F And then there was one. More specifically, two versions of one: the RC and RC F. Putting these cars side by side, they’re probably the best looking cars Lexus has built in a while. Long, sleek, beautiful, and wearing that gaping grille pretty well. RC 350 F Sport first. At 305 horsepower, the RC 350 doesn’t dish out any more than either the IS or GS. It doesn’t need too, though. It feels lighter on its feet than both the IS and GS, with a more modern setup on the inside as well. My one gripe was the steering— and I noticed the same thing when I drove it on the Monticello track. It’s loose, too lose. From Eco to Sport mode, there wasn’t a significant increase in stiffness. You want to feel like you can just point and shoot, especially on an autocross course, and the RC 350 doesn’t provide as much feedback as you’d like it too. But then that’s where the RC F comes in, doesn’t it? RELATED: See Photos of the High-Powered Lexus RC F With 467 horsepower, the RC F is the most powerful car Lexus sells right now. And boy do you feel it. Driving it a lap on a real race track was only a small sample of what I got— autocross this thing and you really feel how sharp it handles. The steering was much heavier and more responsive than the standard RC coupe, and the overall suspension setup felt much more refined than anything else in the field. It’s the second best thing you can buy in the segment, behind the BMW M4, of course. Finishing off my adventures in the RC F definitely solidified my love for this thing. An 8.5 out of 10 felt like the ranking it deserved. As for the entirety of the F Sport lineup, the IS was definitely the high point, whereas the GS fell a little short of expectations. The middle-of-the-road RC, though it may not be to my exact liking, it's definitely interesting and fun. It's worth checking out if you're searching in that market. ____________________________________ Click Here to Read the Original Article on BoldRide

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