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Lexus RC F is go for Australia

Power play: The Lexus RC F was officially unveiled at the Detroit motor show earlier this year.

Most powerful Lexus to date, the RC F, to headline hot coupe range due here in Q4

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Lexus logo29 May 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

LEXUS has confirmed it will bring the dynamic RC coupe to Australian shores at the end of the year, headlined by a fire-breathing 330kW V8-powered RC F performance flagship to take on the BMW M4 and Audi RS5.

The image-building halo coupe range, revealed in the flesh at the Tokyo motor show last November, will hit local showrooms with two petrol engine options – an entry RC 350 and the RC F – but without a petrol-electric hybrid offering, at least initially.

The range-topping RC F – revealed a few months after the regular version at the Detroit motor show last January – is the most powerful vehicle to wear a Lexus badge.

Power comes from a tweaked version of the 5.0-litre V8 engine from the IS F that now develops more than 330kW of power and 520Nm of torque, pushing it beyond the 311kW/505Nm output of its four-door sibling.

The Japanese luxury brand is yet to release performance figures for the RC F, but expect the brutal coupe to eclipse the 4.8-seconds 0-100km/h time of the four-door.

The rear-drive range-topper is fitted with an eight-speed Sports Direct Shift automatic transmission that the company says improves “linear response to accelerator-pedal operation” so the driver can better feel the torque and power as it is applied.

Many improvements have been made to the RC F over the IS F, with the company's engineers focussing on making major improvements to the steering, aerodynamics, chassis and suspension as well as the tyre and wheel package that will include 19-inch alloys.

Lexus has given the RC F a more aggressive styling treatment over the already angry-looking 350 F Sport that was revealed at this year's Geneva motor show.

At the front the F gains two larger side air intakes, while at the rear it features a large diffuser, a similar quad exhaust set-up to the IS F and an electronic rear-wing on the boot lid that raises when the car exceeds 80km/h – a feature borrowed from the LFA supercar.

The hardcore RC F will be the second F model for Lexus after the IS F, which is still available despite being based on a now previous-generation car. Toyota's luxury brand is yet to confirm whether it will replace the IS F with a new-gen version.

Pricing, specification and performance and fuel figures are still under wraps, but expect them to be released in the lead-up to the local launch. The IS F retails for $129,945, but it is not yet clear if the RC F will be similarly positioned.

Its most obvious rival – the 317kW/550Nm BMW M4 that will start to trickle into local showrooms from June – is priced from $166,900, while the 331kW/430Nm Audi RS5 starts from $155,900.

The 336kW/600Nm Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG coupe is priced from $157,545, however this model is set to be replaced in 2015.

The striking two-door range will kick off with the RC 350 which is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 all-alloy direct and port-injected petrol engine capable of producing 234kW of power and 380Nm of torque and matched with an eight-speed sequential transmission.

One of its key rivals is the BMW 435i which uses a 225kW/400Nm 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder unit that pushes it from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds, while another German contender – the Audi S5 – is powered by a 245kW/440Nm 3.0-litre TFSI V6 and covers the same distance in 4.9 seconds.

Lexus says international demand and subsequent supply restrictions have ruled out the petrol-electric hybrid offering for this market, at least for the time being.

Speaking with GoAuto at the Good Design Awards this week, Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley said he was not expecting the RC to be a volume booster for the brand, but it will show what the company is capable of in regards to performance and technology.

“RC is not a volume car for Lexus. It's about demonstrating to the world that we can and we will. It again demonstrates Lexus' progression. We don't have to make an RC. We make an RC and RC F to show the world that we can. It's a brand halo.”

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