Lexus combines luxury and performance in RC F
By Christopher A. Randazzo
Lexus is known for the wide variety of luxury sedans and SUVs it offers. But this Lexus is vastly different from what we have come to expect from the Japanese auto maker. This is the Lexus RC F.
The Lexus RC, which mean ‘Radical Coupe’, is really a two-door derived from two different Lexus sedans, the IS and the GS. The three different engines available for the RC make up its name. The RC 300 uses a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the RC 350 uses a 3.5 V6, and the RC F – uses a potent V8 – more on that in a moment.
Just as BMW has its M division and Mercedes-Benz has AMG, Lexus has its F division which signifies vehicles produced by the Lexus Vehicle Performance Development department. In F form the RC coupe transforms from being a street-friendly automobile into a near track-ready race car. In fact a Track Edition is now being offered for the 2020 model year.
The RC F that I recently spent time with wasn’t the Track Edition, but it still looked ready to tackle the race way with it’s Flare Yellow paint scheme, black carbon fiber roof, 19″ hand-polished BBS wheels, orange Brembo brakes and a carbon-fiber aero-dynamic kit that included a front spoiler, rocker-panel splitters, diffuser and speed-activated rear spoiler. If all this sounds expensive, it is. MSRP for the test car was $89,305.
Since the LC F first came out back in 2015, it has been powered by a 5.0 liter, normally aspirated V8 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, as it sends the power to the rear wheels. Originally rated at 467 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque, power has increased slightly for 2020, where the V8 now makes 472 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. Lexus has also shedded 55 pounds from the RC F, making the car now weigh in at a still heavy 3,902 pounds.
The styling of the RC 300 / 350 is already aggressive. But as the RC F, it’s taken to an extreme. There is a domed hood, deeper grille, flared fenders, cooling ducts and unique fascias. All the go-fast goodies are there to serve a purpose – as they are all functional.
Matching the exterior, the interior of the RC is equally impressive. The seats look awesome and are insanely comfortable. There is a back seat set up for two, but I feel for those who have to use them. In typical Lexus fashion, the cabin features impeccable craftsmanship with a contemporary and attractive design. Every surface, button and knob is finished with high-quality materials making the car feel worthy of its high price tag. Up for debate continues to be the touch-pad controller. The pad is a square grid that you move your finger around on, pushing it to select a function. It works fine at a standstill, but on the move it can be tricky.
As expected, driving the RC F is quite an experience. Action from the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters is very quick and responsive, despite the RC F using a conventional automatic transmission rather than a dual clutch system. Below 3000 RPMs the power doesn’t feel like anything special. But go beyond that, and things start happening – quickly. Occupants will feel a push in their chests and pulse rates will soar. At 50 mph, the rear spoiler deploys and after just 4.3 seconds, you’ll be traveling 60 mph. When it’s time to slow things down a bit, the huge Brembo brakes will gladly oblige. As the car slows to 25 mph, the rear spoiler innocently retracts to its hiding place.
The suspension is tightly sprung, making the RC F handle well and stick to the road like glue. But there is a price to pay – the RC F’s ride is firm and can be jarring, a reminder that this Lexus is more sport than luxury – something that we don’t typically expect from Lexus.
Overall, the RC F isn’t quite as hardcore as the German competition. It performs well, but others perform better. But the RC F is a very well rounded machine. Want to go fast? It can do that. Want to just cruise, no problem there. And when you get tired of hearing the wonderful sounds emitting from the quad stacked tailpipes, then you can listen to music from the amazing 17-speaker 835 watt Mark Levinson Audio system. A good way to look at the RC-F is like an American pony car – Japanese style. Luxurious, fast and expensive.
By The Numbers:
2020 Lexus RC-F
Base Price: $64,780.00
Price as Tested: $89,305.00
Layout: front-engine / rear-wheel drive
Engine: 5.0 liter V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Horsepower: 472 hp
Torque: 395 ft/lb
EPA Fuel Economy: 16 city / 24 highway mpg
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