Lexus’s F brand in synonymous with performance. The F stands for Fuji Speedway, while the RC stands for Radical Coupe. Previous representatives of this prestigious title are the LF-A and IS F. Both of these cars are no slouch and they proved that Lexus has what it takes to make a stylish performance vehicle for whichever market they target. Enter the high performance coupe market, where BMW M4s and the Mercedes C63 AMG rule the road. Lexus wants a slice of the action so they hit the drawing board to create something groundbreaking, now known as the RC F. Why bother settling with an “adequate” attempt when many pieces of a dominating car have already been developed? The Lexus RC uses components from the GS, IS C, and IS Sedan from front to rear. The aluminum 5.0L V8 block comes from the Lexus IS F which was first introduced in 2008. Block aside, the entire engine is completely new. The rods and pistons are built for durability in higher RPMs while the titanium valvetrain keeps air flowing for maximum performance and efficiency.
I was fortunate enough to spend roughly 3 to 4 hours behind the wheel of several variants of the RC F, both on the track and through the suburbs of New York. I always prefer driving a clutch based manual transmission (call me a purist) but having an 8 speed automatic in traffic can be a godsend. Leaving the driving mode in “Normal” keeps the transmission soft and smooth which is good for the kids and your significant other. Eco mode softens things up even more and dials back various electronic assists and conveniences to help provide the best fuel economy. Sport and Sport+ modes will keep the revs higher before shifting, stiffen up the suspension a bit, and provide more firm steering. The base model comes with a standard Torsen rear differential while an upgrade offers a TVD or Torque Vectoring Differential. The TVD uses two electronic motors on the rear axle that diverts power to the rear wheels in order to maximize performance and drivability. If you want a run-down of specs and standard fare, check out the video review above. Hear the screaming V8 that’s so intoxicating to drive I was without words for most of the track footage I recorded (not an easy task).
The car is a blast. I don’t think one car can be completely perfect in everything, although the RC F gets pretty damn close for me. At nearly 4,000 pounds, it’s almost 200 pounds heavier than the C63 AMG Coupe and nearly 500 pounds heavier than the M4. Not all hope is lost though. The RC F has the least expensive base price starting just over $63k. It also has the most standard features. To make up for it’s heftier weight, the 5 liter naturally aspirated V8 has 467 horsepower and 389 pounds of torque. BMW’s M4 uses a 3 liter twin-turbo inline 6 to make 425 horsepower with 401 lb-ft of torque. The AMG based C63 puts down 457 horsepower with a nearly identical redline as the Lexus. Using turbo chargers with high boost levels typically leads to less reliability in the long run. When I asked Yukihiko Yaguchi (Chief Engineer) why they didn’t use a turbo 6 when the Supra was so successful, he didn’t hesitate to explain why a naturally aspirated V8 was chosen. There’s the reliability, the throttle response, the sound, etc. Because it doesn’t come from Deutschland, the Lexus tops out at 170 mph. To keep those speeds under control, the RC F has 15″ front discs with 6 piston calipers while the rears use 13.6″ 4 piston stoppers. An electronic rear spoiler helps keep the car planted at speeds over 50 mph.
Specs aside, this all comes down to personal preference. The car feels sure footed around the track. Modulating the throttle position will help control rotation while those lucky enough to score a TVD equipped vehicle will enjoy gobs of traction coming out of a corner. Brake fade was minimal but predictable, showing no signs of wear all day. I had no problem pushing the car to its limit regardless of my traction control settings. Will current BMW and MB owners consider this vehicle? I certainly hope so. It has more standard features for the price, sexy styling, and Lexus build quality. The BMW still has more options for the racing purist such as optional carbon ceramic brakes (for $8k) and a standard manual transmission. I still had a blast driving this on the street and the track. It is certainly a head turner but one of my favorite things about the car was the throttle response. The BMW certainly has the power to weight ratio advantage, but the sound of a screaming V8 with instant power delivery is hard to beat on the track. Ask any former and more recent M3 owner. Skip to the second half of the video above to see what I’m talking about. My driving impressions on the road were generally positive. The driving modes help tickle your fancy depending on what mood you’re in that day. Normal mode drove great in traffic, and manual mode is always available with the flick of a paddle. Technology, when used properly, can elevate the driving experience to the next level. A smart transmission, suspension, electronic spoiler, Torque Vectoring Differential, are all there to enhance your driving experience, not take away from it. Add in a dynamic gauge cluster with tons of geeky information options and an optional Mark Levinson 835 watt 17 speaker sound system takes you to the concert before you get there.
I’ve always enjoyed BMW and Mercedes vehicles and I understand why people love them so much. If I had $70k to drop right now, it would still go towards the RC F. Lexus has the least depreciation over 3 and 5 years for a luxury brand, while also being one of the most reliable car makers in existence today. Lets not forget this is a brand new model that will surely stand out, whether you buy the melt-your-face-off Molten Pearl color or not. Styling, exhilarating performance, and reliability. Lexus has stepped up to the plate of high performance coupes and hit it out of the park on the first swing. For that, I give them kudos and look forward to getting behind the wheel of this car again when I do a long term road review.