On sheer looks alone, this new Lexus RC F coupe is a real head-turner — looking as much a contemporary beauty as a bit of a beast.
Large roadside posters of it pose almost as much a distraction to drivers as those infamous ‘Hello Boys’ billboard adverts of an age ago.
So if you’re thinking of treating yourself to some New Year fun, order books have just opened for the car with first UK deliveries in February and prices from £59,995.
The new Lexus RC F coupe goes from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 168mph
Looking good is just not enough, says the Japanese luxury arm of Toyota.
So its high-performance qualities — acceleration from rest to 60mph in 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 168mph — are reflected ‘in every carefully crafted curve and plane’.
The guiding principle, it says, was ‘functional beauty’.
The dramatic grille, for example helps ventilate the powerful 471 bhp 5-litre engine linked to an 8-speed automatic gearbox with paddle-style manual override.
The car, above right, also has special ducts to push cooling air onto the hot front brakes.
The lip of the boot incorporates an active rear wing which pops up automatically at speeds of above 50 mph to optimise airflow and generate downforce for added stability during highspeed driving. It retracts again when the vehicle’s speed falls below 25 mph.
But the driver can also control wing deployment from the cockpit.
If you’re worried about your computer being hacked, just wait until driverless cars hit the road. For one of the biggest risks to autonomous driving — now to be trialled in the UK from January — is ‘cyber hacking’, where computer geeks take control of a car over the internet for mischief, mayhem or worse.
Transport Minister Claire Perry told MPs it was one of the biggest barriers to the introduction of such vehicles, along with questions of liability and insurance. Experts agree. Hugh Boyes, cyber security specialist at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), said: ‘While they are likely to bring benefits, such as increased mobility for the elderly, lower insurance costs and less congestion, there are fears that they may be targeted by cyber terrorists.’
Driverless cars will cut road deaths and casualties — as well as help hard-pressed mums avoid the school run, the Transport Minister also told MPs. She said: ‘I have a vision of the school-run driverless car, where you wave your children off to school and they come back at 3.30.’ And though she was keen to reduce road casualties further, there would be no Swedish-style ‘zero deaths’ target.
Meanwhile, she acknowledged that with an 18-year-old child of her own now seeking a provisional licence, insurance costs can be ‘prohibitive’.
So ‘black box’ telematics, which track a young motorists’ actions, can play a part in reducing premiums and helping stop the multiple fatalities that occur when vehicles carrying several passengers are involved in high-speed collisions.
Miss Perry was giving evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee on the future of motoring.
In last week’s Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne announced that driverless car trials would start next year in Greenwich in South-East London, in Bristol, in Milton Keynes and Coventry.
Bloodhound SSC, pictured, is powered by three engines — a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet from a Eurofighter Typhoon, a cluster of Nammo hybrid rockets and a 550bhp supercharged V8 engine from Jaguar
I enjoyed a fascinating evening in the company of world speed record holder Wing Commander Andy Green, OBE.
Green, right, is now working hard on the True Brit project to exceed 1,000mph in the Bloodhound supersonic car that’s being built and tested. You could feel the hairs on the back of your neck rise as he went through in step-by-step forensic detail what he would experience strapped into the cockpit of a rocket on wheels.
Getting up to 1,000mph is not the most challenging bit, he said disarmingly. Slamming on the brakes without blacking out with the massive G-force — equivalent to going from 60mph to zero in just one second in a family car for 20 seconds — while ensuring you stop before you run out of track is the really tricky part, said the RAF officer who has held the world land speed record since hitting 763mph in Thrust SSC in 1997.
Bloodhound SSC, pictured, is powered by three engines — a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet from a Eurofighter Typhoon, a cluster of Nammo hybrid rockets and a 550bhp supercharged V8 engine from Jaguar. Between them they generate a thrust equivalent to 180 F1 cars. At full speed it will cover a mile in just 3.6 seconds. So if you were sitting in a football stadium as it roared by, it really would be a case of ‘blink and you miss it’, he said.
Bloodhound is being built in Bristol before being rolled out next summer for runway testing at speeds of up to 200mph in Newquay.
The team then moves to a specially prepared track, 12 miles long and two miles wide, in a stretch of desert called the Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape in South Africa with a target of hitting 800mph. They’ll return to South Africa in 2016 with the aim of reaching 1,000mph. Details at: bloodhoundssc.com