The term "gentleman racer" brings to mind a cartoon character with a silly hat, a monocled eye and open-backed racing gloves.
Yet that's exactly who Lexus's outrageously wonderful CCS-R race car is aimed at.
Of course, the gentlemen in question will have to be well-heeled to the point of looking like giraffes. This race-track-ready adaptation of the IS F is an order-only proposition, with Lexus Australia refusing to name an actual price.
The CCS-R costs 20 million Japanese yen ($213,156) but local buyers would have to put significant import costs on top of that, for what is a race-track only special vehicle.
We drove it at Mt Fuji Race Track in Japan. And it's mental.
It is also, most certainly, special. While the CCS-R features the same engine, gearbox and brakes as the standard IS F it weighs a significant 300kg less (down to 1400kg), having ditched the rear seats and gone on a carbon-fibre diet.
It also gets full bucket seats, racing harnesses, a flip-up racing steering wheel and semi-slick tyres. Plus an outrageous rear wing and searing orange paint.
It looks, feels and drives like a race car, and is a great advertisement for the strength of the IS F's underlying internals.
On the one hand, it's basic, pared back and awful inside - and with no rear seats it's not great for dropping the kids off at school.
But on the other hand, it looks and feels like a proper, intensely focused racing car.
There are lashings of carbon fibre, a central lap-timer and the kinds of switches, flaps, buttons and dials that can intimidate the hell out of a driver who doesn't spend his time in race cars.
And on the plus side, the full-on racing seats and six-point harnesses give an instant impression of intention. You're excited, and a little daunted, before you even mash the accelerator.
CCS-R key interior features:
- Small diameter steering wheel with paddle shifters, mounted on flip-up style wheel hub.
- Total lack of sound and vibration damping materials - no carpets, roof liner, rear seats, door locks, power windows.
- Roll cage, data logger, kill switch.
- Six-point racing harnesses.
- HANS compatible full bucket driver's seat.
ON THE ROAD
Sure, you can't legally take it on a public road, but on track it's hard to imagine a car being more fun.
The semi-slick tyres provide so much grip that you end up giving yourself g-force-inflicted neck injuries as you attack corners at higher and higher speeds, trying, and utterly failing, to induce any kind of misbehaviour.
The noise from the racing exhaust system is so ferocious that no matter where in the world you live, you can probably hear a CCS-R being fired into life.
At full noise, even wearing a helmet, you will almost certainly go deaf.
The steering and corner-savaging handling are at a whole different level to any car that can legally be registered, as you would hope.
This is a proper, and properly right off its tits, race car.
We did notice that it wasn't that much faster than a stock IS F coming down the straight at Mount Fuji, but the way it accelerates out of corners, and bites into the road, everywhere else make it an absolute winner.
The CCS-R is also astonishingly easy to drive fast, giving its prospective owners all the joys and endorphin rushes of being a race driver, without any of the intimidation.
Lexus IS F CCS-R key specifications:
- Engine/trans: 5.0 litre V8, eight-speed Sport Direct Shift auto
- [email protected], [email protected]
- 4.3 seconds 0-100km/h (estimated, Lexus reckon it's never checked)
- Double wishbone with coil springs and sway bar, multi-link with coil springs and sway bar (all racing-spec)
- Electronic Power Steering with vehicle-speed-sensing rack and pinion
VERDICT | OVERALL
Sure, it's entirely impractical, unless you own a racetrack, but the CCS-R is an engineering marvel. The bits of the IS F that have been left untouched are almost more impressive than those that have been fettled.
Truly, it's so much fun that it will leave you laughing out loud, while your chest pounds with an overload of endorphins.
All the noise, gorgeous grip, high-tech and stunning chassis strength of a proper race car are on display here.
As a weekend racer, for fun as much as for performance, it's unbeatable. Particularly when you're wringing its absolutely deafening V8 to redline - and beyond (no automatic upshifting here).
You really feel like a boy racer, or a gentleman one, for a few moments.
Sell your house, take out a contract on your bank manager, do whatever it takes to own one of these. Who knew Lexus could be this crazy?