CENTIMETRES from the walls on Bathurst's famed Skyline and Dipper, there were heart-stopping moments.
At the helm were the capable hands of Neal Bates, an Australian motorsport icon, but most notable was the machine he was wielding: the new Lexus RC F.
Rarely in the past have we seen too much excitement from Lexus. The Japanese marque does "nice" extremely well, and an outstandingly quiet ride, but "exciting" traditionally isn't on the list.
Then came the IS F sedan a few years back. A V8 shoehorned into a compact sedan shell.
Yet now comes sexy styling and power. The RC F is a sensual coupe powered by an up-rated version of the same bent eight, which starts from just below $135,000.
Using a similar theme to what we have seen in the NX sports utility vehicle, the coupe cabin has interesting lines and aspects.
There's a sprinkling of carbon fibre inserts through the dash and console, along with leather trim on the most touched areas.
Refined leather seats walk the line between luxury and sporting, offering a cosseting feel with excellent lateral and base support.
Operationally everything's straightforward. The driver has a range of instrument options depending on mode, in "eco" you get a lovely naturally looking windmill effect for your speedo, and the look gets angrier as you step up into the sport modes.
On the road
Hit the start button and the V8 rumbles to life.
Relatively subdued at low speed, the RC F feels distinctly sporting with a firm ride, although it manages to do a good enough job of soaking up the lumps while still being capable in the bends - and on the racetrack.
Lexus designed this more as a grand tourer rather than a pure sports car. And it's decidedly easy to drive quickly.
The V8 pumps out 351 kilowatts, 12% more power than the previous donk in the IS F, and it'll hammer from standstill to 100kmh in 4.5 seconds.
Under acceleration, it has a brilliant soundtrack. Tuned to sound like the LFA V10-powered supercar once it passes 6000rpm, you can let it loose just beyond 7000rpm. The eight-speed automatic can feel lazy on occasions, but when you're feeling like giving it a squirt, you just pull on the paddles to control the cogs yourself and get into the torque band to let the good times roll.
You can select from various drive modes and traction control functions, one specifically for the track with limited electric safety interference, via console dials.
What do you get?
Among the complimentary items are 19-inch 10-spoke alloys, sunroof, heated and ventilated front sports seats, leather trim, sat nav, LED headlamps with automatic high beam, 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo, radar cruise control, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist, eight airbags and lane departure warning.
You can option 20-spoke 19-inch alloys for $2500.
Those wanting more bling can get the Carbon model for an extra $14k with a carbon fibre bonnet, roof, rear spoiler (which automatically deploys when required), interior trim and Alcantara seat trim - but that means you go without the cooling function of the pews.
Living with a performance car doesn't mean you need a racing budget. The RC F has normal servicing intervals and shouldn't attract extraordinary upkeep, although brakes and tyres will depend on how hard you drive.
Being a naturally aspirated V8 means you will have some pain at the pump. The official figure is about 11 litres, but it doesn't take too much encouragement to average 16 litres per 100km.
Four seats are within the coupe confines, but the back seat has limited leg and knee room. Those in the front need to shift well forward to create enough space for adults in the back, and even then you don't have a lot of area for your feet.
Anyone wanting a more spacious offering should wait for the four-door GS F forecast to arrive later this year.
Boot space is good enough for a pair of small suitcases, with some extra peripheral room for other gear. The rear seat backs don't fold, which would limit trips to Ikea.
There are two excellent centre cup holders also capable of hosting larger bottles.
This coupe is seductive and downright hot - two things not traditionally associated with Lexus. It's an attention-seeker, and the V8 tune is simply outstanding.
Few performance cars have everyday appeal.
The Lexus RC F is brilliant fun, and while it may not be as quick or raw as the pure sports offerings such as the BMW M3/M4 or Mercedes-Benz C63, it's a car that can perform the mundane and the insane.
It can cope with the track, while the Lexus reliability and quality ensures you can have your race car cake and afford to feed it too.
What matters most
What we liked: Beautiful soundtrack above 4000rpm, suspension for the track and town, good looks.
What we'd like to see: Larger central colour screen, additional legroom in the back.
Servicing and warranty: Four-year 100,000km warranty. Servicing intervals are 12 months or 15,000km.
Verdict: 4 stars
Model: Lexus RC F.
Details: Two-door rear-wheel drive performance coupe.
Engine: 5.0-litre V8 generating 351kW @ 7100rpm and 530Nm @ 4800rpm.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic.
Consumption: 10.9 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance: 0-100kmh in 4.5 seconds. Top speed 270kmh.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $133,500,Carbon $147,500.
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