Why A Naturally-Aspirated V8 Is The Perfect Antidote To Stressful EV Driving

After a stressful weekend of pushing the range of a Tesla Model S to its limits, I needed a release, something I found in the new Lexus RC F

Just 12 hours ago, I was trundling along the M20 at just 50mph, getting overtaken by absolutely everything. Every uphill stretch of motorway was met with a wince as the mileage went down, making reaching the charging station for the electric vehicle I was in seem increasingly unlikely.

Fast forward to now, and all that extreme stress is gone. I’m staring at an RC F - a BMW M4-rivalling V8 super coupe from Lexus - and am about to get in and go for a blast. As I get in, I’m treated to a rather dated interior and spot a glovebox lock that looks like it might have been taken from a 1992 Toyota Corolla, but today isn’t about nitpicking the interior, it’s about driving. Time to fire up that V8.

Lexus - Why A Naturally-Aspirated V8 Is The Perfect Antidote To Stressful EV Driving - Features

I’ve got plenty of unleaded in the tank, and am heading away from civilisation towards the open road. I’ve spent the weekend undertaking an ambitious road trip in a Tesla Model S, stretching the car’s battery capacity to its limit and coping with some incredible range anxiety on the way. But now I’ve swapped the Tesla for the Lexus, I’m ready for a release. With 471bhp at my disposal and the road ahead clear, I get just that.

Lexus - Why A Naturally-Aspirated V8 Is The Perfect Antidote To Stressful EV Driving - Features

The first thing that hits you about the RC-F is just how long the throttle pedal is. It seems to go on forever, before it finally hits the carpet. And when it does, you’re in for a proper aural treat. I like to categorise V8 engines in two main camps: those that roar, and those that howl. This one? It’s a howler. The 5.0-litre naturally-aspirated unit revs up to a glorious 7400rpm red line, and once you get to 4000rpm, it really comes on song.

The first time I wind the RC all the way around the clock, it lets out a shriek that’d give Audi’s bombastic N/A 4.2-litre V8 nightmares. And thanks to the active exhaust valves, it seems to come from nowhere: nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, ARMAGEDDON! It’s fantastic.

Lexus - Why A Naturally-Aspirated V8 Is The Perfect Antidote To Stressful EV Driving - Features

I have little time to work my way through the gears, though, as I’m about to enter a tight and twisty section of road. And immediately, I’m attacking it as though this is a car I’ve done thousands of miles in - such is the confidence the RC-F gives you. The back end is superbly sticky, no doubt helped by the torque-vectoring rear differential, while the perfectly weighted and sharp steering does exactly what you expect to the car’s pointy snout.

To drive, it feels the perfect balance between the four-wheel drive Audi RS5 and the snappy BMW M4: unlike the Audi it won’t let you be a complete moron and get away with it, but you don’t get that ‘it wants to kill me’ feeling you get with the Bimmer. It hides its weight well, too; it’s incredibly composed for something that hits a rather shocking 1765kg on the scales.

With good, empty bits of road not exactly in abundance in this rather built-up area south west of London, I turn back around to have another crack at the twisty section I’ve just carved up. I’m loving every minute, with the V8 bouncing off the limiter and scenery flashing by, but there’s one thing that’s plagued the whole journey and refuses to go away: the disobedient gearbox.

Lexus - Why A Naturally-Aspirated V8 Is The Perfect Antidote To Stressful EV Driving - Features

It’s a conventional automatic rather than a fancy dual-clutch jobby, and while its upshifts are reasonable (but not massively quick), it refuses to respond to the most reasonable of downshift requests without a massive delay. And in an N/A V8 which needs to be revved to get the best out of it, that’s a problem. It’s not much better if you ignore the paddles and leave the gearbox to it either; it takes much too long to react to what your right foot is doing.

Lexus - Why A Naturally-Aspirated V8 Is The Perfect Antidote To Stressful EV Driving - Features

However, while the slightly naff gearbox does put a dampener on proceedings, it’s not enough to stifle my enjoyment. As I head back into town and park up, the Lexus RC F has done its job: I’m refreshed and ready to take on the week.

While electric vehicles - especially stupidly quick ones like the Tesla Model S - will continue to intrigue me, a bit of old school, naturally-aspirated internal combustion will always be what puts me in the best mood.