Last year, Lexus celebrated the tenth anniversary of its F performance brand, a badge introduced to capture the sporting spirit of the Fuji Speedway, the home of Lexus performance vehicle development. In 2008, the F marque began with the IS F but cemented its reputation in 2010, with the introduction of the LFA supercar.
Today, the F Line casts its influence over a much broader range of Lexus vehicles from sports-focused coupes to stately sedans. On the rare occasion that Lexus gets the whole F Line fleet in the same place, they like to invite a lucky few to enjoy them. Fortunately, we happened to be on the list.
The single-day event began with flights to Melbourne followed by Lexus transfers to the extravagant $100-million Melbourne Jet Base, which it has partnered with to chauffeur clients to and from their private aircraft. After a quick refreshment, we hit the tarmac, strolling past two of James Packer's Bombardier Global Express XRS jets before climbing into a pair of Microflite choppers ready to whisk us away to Lake Mountain Resort.
Lake Mountain Ski Resort
Emerging from Tullamarine airspace, the chopper set a course North East for Lake Mountain Resort, perched atop one of Australia's greatest driving roads. Our journey took no more than 40 mins before we made a sweeping approach around low fog to land in the resort car park.
Greeting us on arrival, the illustrious Lexus F fleet, spearheaded by the mighty Lexus LFA and flanked by a Marie Kondo style arrangement of the brand's finest. With just 500 LFAs produced worldwide, 10 making it to Australia and seven figures required to own one today, they're a rare spot, even more so in the striking Heat Blue.
When the Lexus LFA debuted in 2010, it did so as a bold positioning statement. Developed as the technical champion of the brand, it made far more of a name for itself than it did money for Toyota. Sporting a 3.7-second sprint to 100km from the 4.8-litre mid-mounted V10 designed by Yamaha, it was, and still is, considered to produce one of the finest soundtracks in motoring history.
Unsurprisingly, we didn't get to drive it, confined to just a few minutes down a closed section of Lake Mountain Road, at the hand of a Lexus driver. From what I could gather, the carbon chassis was one of the stiffest I'd ever sat in. Every bump in the road and every gear change seemed to translate through the framework of the LFA, similar to that of the Nissan GTR Nismo Edition. Interestingly, it didn't feel as fast as I'd imagined but I'm happy to put that down to the fella driving. When it took off back up the hill, however, I stopped to appreciate the aural sensation from the iconic tripod exhaust. Just sublime.
LC 500 & GS F
Again, we didn't drive either the LC 500 or the GS F, which were piloted up and down the closed road with each guest as passenger. The LC 500 utilises much of the innovation and learnings from LFA enhancing the finishes and influencing rigidity, ride and performance. Lexus sells a hybrid variant but it's the 351kW 5.0-litre V8 we rode in on the day and it sounds absolutely unreal. Whether you see it as avant-garde, contemporary or elegant, everything about the LC makes a statement, one it backs up with poise and performance.
The car I was most impressed with on the closed road was the GS F sedan. A combination of adaptive variable suspension and torque vectoring ensures superb handling and grip through the bends while providing a luxurious but sporty ride. It also feels seriously quick for a big saloon and at $152,980 is a pretty compelling package.
Lexus RC F Track Edition
Finally, some driving! After our pre-lunch session on the closed road, we got to tackle the bottom half of Lake Mountain Road in a selection of RC F models - a base model with steel brakes, a model optioned with carbon brakes and a titanium exhaust and then a top of the range Track Edition which strips out 65kg through the use of carbon, including a carbon rear wing which adds 26kg of downforce.
We've just had the mid-tier RC F in the office for the week (with carbon brakes and a titanium exhaust) and after a quick spray up McCarrs Creek Rd today it's safe to say the Track Edition, while on paper looking like virtually the same car, is the more competent package.
I found the RC F Track Edition, on the empty Lake Mountain Rd, to be an enthralling piece of kit. Utilising the brand's sumptuous 5.0 litre V8, the Track Edition will have you at 100km/h in 4.3 seconds, making it the fastest Lexus offered since the LFA. The carbon ceramics are sensational and a lovely weighted steering wheel directs you exactly where you want to go as soon as you lift off them. Hit the gas again and the rear hints at getting feisty without you ever worrying that you'll lose control. It's a car that prompts you to exude confidence, and it's a nice feeling. I would have liked a bit more from the downshifts, in response and soundtrack but I jumped out of the RC F Track Edition mighty impressed. (More thoughts to come in our separate RC F review).
Capping off a glorious day of driving we were treated to a massage, before more food, more coffee and a final opportunity to shoot the RC F among the matching red Microflite choppers. While it was disappointing not to get behind the wheel of the car that laid the foundations of innovation and performance for the rest of the Lexus F Line, it was a treat to see and hear it in action. While it might not have made commercial sense in 2010, the LFA's innovation and resulting pedigree is alive and well in the 2019 F Line.
For more info on the Lexus RC F and GS F head to lexus.com.au