Lexus Fs get handling, power boosts

words - Bruce Newton
Club racer provides strong clues to RC F and IS F and you can but it now
If you want a taste of the sort of handling and power delivery the new BMW M4-rivalling Lexus RC F coupe is expected to deliver then go and have a drive of the IS F CCS-R.

That’s the advice of Yukuhiro Yaguchi, the chief engineer of the original 5.0-litre V8 IS F, the developer of the CCS-R and the man behind the RC F V8 coupe, which is expected to break cover in Detroit in January 2014.

The CCS-R, or Circuit Club Sport Racer, is based on the original IS F, retains its 311kW 5.0-litre V8 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission, but is lightened by 314 kilograms and has substantial suspension tuning for motorsport.

“Next generation models benchmark is this car,” Yaguchi said. “Handling and acceleration performance.”

The CCS-R has been around for a few years in one form or other, but gained most attention when it won the exhibition class at the 2013 Pikes Peak hill climb in the USA.

Hand-built in Japan – a process that takes up to two months – it is available for commercial sale at 20 million Yen ($210,500) plus delivery, is left-hand rive, not road registrable and is characterised as a car for ‘gentleman racers’.

Seven have been sold in Japan, two in Europe and one in the USA and it is available in Australia if anyone wanted one.

“If someone was interested in owning a vehicle such as the IS F CCS-R they’d have to approach us directly,” said Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley. “We’re yet to investigate local ordering, servicing and support network but it’s something we are keen to support.”

A three lap drive at Fuji Speedway this week showed the CCS-R was about the most accessible racing car you could imagine – apart from getting in out of the gutted interior without rattling your helmet on the full rollcage bars and squeezing an ample frame into a racing bucker seat.

But the power delivery, steering, handling and grip (on Yokohama Advan tyres) were exemplary and significantly superior to the standard IS F road car also sampled, which turned in nowhere near as crisply and lacked the same level of front or rear-end grip.

Yaguchi was insistent the CCS-R’s handling feel could translate from the racetrack and could be allied with suitable road-going ride quality.

“The racing car nowadays the suspension is softer and the handling is easier,” he said. “This car has lots of roll but still drivers can enjoy.

“The CCS-R uses special parts but our hope is to have the kind of direct handling this car has in mass production car.”

The essence of the car’s power delivery was instant, tractable and strong, accompanied by a brutally attractive and unfettered noise.

Again, Yaguchi was clear this was the sort of experience that should translate to the road. If the speculation is accurate, a more powerful version of the current naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 will transfer to the new RC F and the second generation IS F, although the timing of the latter’s debut is yet to become apparent.

“We want even higher performance for even more people,” Yaguchi said.

He also was sure the new generation RC F/IS F family would benefit from the lessons learned cutting weight out of the CCS-R, including carbon-fibre technologies.

“Just reducing the weight is not the target,” he cautioned. “Having a better feeling of driving, that is the target.”

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Published : Friday, 22 November 2013
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