By Eric Barton
Forty-five minutes to get from downtown Fort Lauderdale to Palm Beach. It seems unlikely. It seems impossible as we enter the busy Sunday-morning traffic on I-95. No better time to drop the Lexus RC F into “sport plus” mode.
As we skirt trucks and merge into the fast lane, the engine downshifts. There’s an exhilarating grunt from the exhaust. At stake: brunch reservations.
OK, sure, this might not seem all that dramatic. But let’s be honest about our racing pedigree: Few of us in South Florida make our daily drives through a tricky S curve or brave an outside pass on Turn Three.
So if we’re going to risk a speeding ticket, the RC F is a fine choice of vehicle to get us to brunch on time. It’s the sports car Lexus has never really built. Toyota’s luxury brand produced the brilliant LFA supercar for a couple of years – at a cool $500,000 – but never before has Lexus sold a mass-market vehicle that looks ready to challenge for the pole position.
Rakish is the adjective a couple of people used when eyeing our shiny white tester with its sporty and fairly stunning manhole-size black wheels. There’s a hood scoop and giant fenders that jut out like the shoulders of Thor. A button on the dash pops up a back spoiler, for those moments when you need even more rakishness.
The inside is less racy, with a handsome interior trimmed in leather and suede. The only disappointment is the touch pad that operates everything. It’s difficult to use while driving and is poorly placed for anybody who likes to rest an elbow on the armrest. Dashboard and steering-wheel buttons, however, provide alternate controls.
Behind the driver’s seat is a space of a few inches before the back seat begins, so anyone sitting there better be under 5 feet tall or enjoy sitting cross-legged. In that regard, this Lexus doesn’t compete with the two-door sports cars from BMW and Audi, which feature fairly usable back seats. For this kind of money – our tester had a sticker just shy of $74,000 – that puts the RC F in competition with two-seaters like the lovable Porsche Cayman or the object-of-desire Jaguar F-Type. Tough company.
Speaking of tough company, our brunch companion requested a bit of braking as the RC F’s speedometer neared speeds we prefer not to divulge in print. In our defense, the didn’t-see-that-coming acceleration seems to happen any time you punch the big V8 in this sporty ride.
Easing off the speed, the RC F coughed and barked again as it downshifted from eighth to sixth gear. Dropping into “normal” mode allowed an up-shift, and we cruised the rest of way to Okeechobee Boulevard with a growly hum.
Out on Palm Beach, the towering trees of Royal Palm Way reflected off the hood as the engine emitted the bass-heavy sound of a perturbed lioness. We turned onto South County Road and had our choice of parking spots in front of BrickTop’s. We clocked our trip, door to door, at 43 minutes – two minutes ahead of, ahem, the checker flag.
Could we have made it to our brunch on time in a more pedestrian vehicle? Sure. But few cars can make a journey more fun.
5350 W. Sample Road, Margate, 954-972-2200, jmlexus.com; Lexus of Palm Beach, 5700 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach, 561-291-6004, lexusofpalmbeach.com; Lexus of Pembroke Pines, 16150 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines, 954-443-2020, lexusofpembrokepines.com.