1,000 Miles for a 10 Minute Test Drive, Worth It
As we inch closer to a post-COVID era, one looks for any opportunity to get back to where they left off before the start of the pandemic. Any chance to get back to normal, but what is normal? For me, normal is driving 1,000 miles round trip across the state of Texas to test drive a car for 10 minutes.
A long journey for a brief experience, but so is the life of a highway cowboy. A person who fantasizes about the tranquility of an empty two-lane highway while others daydream of white sandy beaches and whatever the hell social butterflies do.
For the trouble of 1,000 miles, I wasn’t going all the way across Texas to test drive a run-of-the-mill appearance-package edition of a crossover SUV. This was an invitation-only event organized by the Texas Motor Press Association (TXMPA) with Lexus for a hands-on preview of the new 2021 Lexus RC-F Fuji Speedway Edition sports car. I say sports car, but in reality, the RC-F is a JDM muscle car that can handle more than the quarter-mile.
The Fuji Speedway Edition builds on that and turns the RC-F into a race-bred, carbon-fiber dripping GT coupe with the heart of a naturally-aspirated muscle car. The test driver was brief but worth the trip.
Lexus GT3 team went through everything component on the RC-F and sharpened the edges. Behind the rear seat is a new carbon fiber V-brace to stiffen the body. The suspension uses lighter-weight aluminum parts. Stopping power comes from a set of carbon-ceramic disc brakes adopted from the Lexus LFA and cooled through functional air vents.
The carbon-fiber rear wing is inspired by the “swan-neck” wing used on the Lexus GT3 race car. Behind each door is a modified scallop designed to channel air away from the rear wheel-well and improve aerodynamics.
The car may look like a weekend racer on the outside, but the inside is still a Lexus. Every Fuji Speedway Edition comes optioned with red leather bucket seats with red Alcantara accents. Red carbon-fiber trim pieces and suede can be found throughout the business class cock-pit. Lexus’ bucket seats feel tailor-made for long-distance road trips.
Standard features on the Lexus RC-F Fuji SE include Launch Control, which was recently added to the RC-F in 2020. Lexus designed its LC to engage only after it reaches its optimal temperature to avoid abusive wear and tear on mechanical components. So, if you want to launch this car first thing in the morning as you leave the driveway, no dice, you’ll have to wait until it warms up first.
One detail I liked in the Fuji Speedway Edition’s interior is the lack of reminders. There is no special plaque on the dash with a serial number, no silhouette of a race track printed on the floor mats, or a stamped name of the faceless engineer who built the engine. It’s a car that would rather show you why it’s so special instead of merely telling you.
Under the Radar Test Drive
The test drive was on public roads, so not the best environment for a car of this caliber. Add the fact that someone, presumably, tipped-off Dallas’ finest that we were there. Easy to imagine a scenario of someone hiding behind a pay phone telling a 911 operator of a sinister-looking sports car rumbling through the streets. The planned route had more radar than restricted air space, but that wasn’t going to stop us from experiencing lift-off in the Lexus RC-F Fuji SE.
On a clear access road, I gave the throttle a taste of shoe leather. Lexus wanted the Fuji Speedway Edition to provide drivers with a more linear experience. Meaning when I hit the gas, the car responds immediately without the momentary electronic delay. Like a K-9 police dog, the RC-F Fuji SE is always on alert to obey your every command as you’re locked into a luxury cockpit of a JDM street fighter. Grip the wheel and feel the intoxicating sensation that only a naturally aspirated V8 can produce.
Nothing can turn a sensible driver into a throttle-junkie faster than a naturally-aspirated V8 engine. Because it’s not about top speed, tunnel acoustics, or how far you get pushed back in your seat when the light turns green. It’s the compelling sound of eight cylinders marching in harmony at idle, holding steady for an extra shot of kaboom-juice to set it loose from its chain and bite down on your attention.
Gone in 60
If you’re chopping at the bit to get your hands on a Fuji Speedway Edition, you better call your Lexus rep fast because only 60 examples are being built. Customers have the option of two colors, Arctic Blast Satin or Cloudburst Gray. The color featured in this article is Cloudburst Gray. Arctic Blast Satin is a semi-matte finish treated to handle automated car washes.
The cherry on top is an MSTR automatic movement wristwatch included with the purchase of your 2021 Lexus RC-F Fuji Speedway Edition. This timepiece is finished in gunmetal bezel with Fuji Speedway and F logos and a band dressed in red stitching.
The 2021 Lexus RC-F Fuji Speedway Edition is meant to provide the comfort of grand touring, a muscle car’s character, and a sports car’s confidence. It’s a premium luxury performance coupe designed by a committee of racers. Set a hot lap and never miss a tee-time at the country club with the Lexus RC-F Fuji Speedway Edition. It’s a flameproof Members Only jacket, and I want one, but I’ll settle for the opportunity to road test one for a week.
Side note. Read my review of the 2017 Lexus RC-F.