Greater complication awaits when you start that V8 and attempt to navigate the RC F’s many drive modes. The shiny drive mode select knob allows you to cycle through Eco, Normal, Sport S and Sport S+ presets, which apply control regimes to the engine, transmission and power steering and different display modes for the LCD instruments.
There are another four modes to the VDIM stability control and three modes for the optional active diff. Setting the car up to match the prevailing conditions can feel more like flapping away vainly at a Rubik’s Cube than refining an increasingly capable dynamic recipe.
Experience teaches you simply to find a setting you like and stick with it. Moreover, in actuality the RC F has only two operating routines, because the way the V8 combines with the automatic transmission tends to polarise the car’s driving experience.
The powertrain is pleasingly suave and docile at unstressed pace, then sharp and energetic at maximum attack. Anywhere in between, it doesn’t work nearly so well. That’s a problem for a coupé like this whose richness and performance should arguably be most distinguished at medium-high, brisk but unhurried cross-country pace.
Using the manual mode on the gearbox feels like an imposition for a fast GT like this, but it does allow you to avoid the auto mode’s often hesitant and ill-judged changes and better explore the RC F’s main attraction. In the lower half of the rev range, throttle response is gentle and available acceleration is surprisingly limited. It feels less urgent than in plenty of normally aspirated six-cylinder sports cars, and much less so than in any turbocharged rival.
Then, as the revs nudge up to 4000rpm, it’s as if the V8’s second bank of cylinders suddenly growls into life. The engine’s voice doubles its volume and its potency grows gradually from toy breed through angry terrier levels and then on to the temperament of an excited sled dog as the 7300rpm redline approaches.
Work the motor hard and the RC F is just about a sub-5.0sec 0-60mph prospect, as our figures prove. Below 5500rpm, it’s a sitting duck for a fast hatchback or a cheaper sports car, and the ill manners of the gearbox and peakiness of the power curve are frustrating barriers to both responsiveness and day-to-day enjoyment.
So although it’s lurid at times, the RC F delivers conspicuously less real-world performance than it ought to.