Let’s get one thing straight before we start, the 2018 Lexus RC F Coupe is not trying to compete with the BMW M4 or the Mercedes-AMG C 63 AMG since they both have more torque thanks to turbocharging and let’s face it the Lexus needs to go on a diet, it’s rather heavy. Instead the Lexus is a delightful alternative sports coupe dressed in a suave and sophisticated suit with a naturally aspirated warbling 5.0-liter V8. That V8 pushes out 467 hp @ 7,100 rpm and 389 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm mated to a quick shifting 8 speed auto that is a delight.
My tester, much like the Lexus GS F, we tested a few weeks ago, was the 10th Anniversary Edition model of which only 240 will be offered for sale in the U.S. As with GS F, the RC F comes standard with a coat of matte finish Nebula Gray paint and terrific looking 19-inch black polished BBS wheels. Shod with extremely grippy Michelin Pilot Super Sports and blue painted Brembo brake calipers.
Does the driving experience match the looks?
I’ll have to admit the RC F looks sensational and not just because of the paint on our tester, but everything from that menacing grille to the 4-barrel exhausts at the rear. But is it all show and no go? Well despite being a bit on the heavy side this car is simply sensational to drive. Most of that is down to the V8 under the hood and the excellent transmission but I have to giver props to the Lexus engineers for the suspension as well. I’m referring to the Torque Vectoring Differential which enhances dynamic performance by precisely controlling torque to each rear wheel through a multi-plate clutch. It operates as quickly as 1/1000th of a second, whether the accelerator is pressed or not, based on data including throttle input, braking, yaw rate, longitudinal and lateral G-force.
The driver can select one of three settings for the Differential: STANDARD everyday driving. SLALOM gives additional steering response, and of course the mode I spent all my time in, TRACK which enhances handling at speed. Driven hard under-steer is all but eliminated and the RC F always feels in control even under sharp cornering as the car communicates its limits without adding drama. The steering is about as good as it gets, confidence-inspiring and has plenty of feedback, while the brakes provided excellent fade free stops time after time.
The 8-speed transmission works seamlessly with the V8, rattling off super-fast shifts and holding gears perfectly in the engine’s sweet spot. It can get caught out occasionally if you squeeze half throttle and then want more immediately, you’ll get a slight pause until the torque kicks in. Mash the throttle from a standstill though and you are rewarded with a surge of pure acceleration accompanied by a high-pitched rumbling from its stacked exhaust pipes. This wonderful noise is pumped into the cabin via the audio speakers via an Active Sound Control (ASC) system, which you can turn off.
Does it make other drivers move over?
California drivers are typically resistant to moving over when someone is behind them, especially when the freeway in question has only 2 lanes. In my week in the RC F almost everyone pulled over to let me pass, maybe because the Lexus looks quite menacing when looming in your rear-view mirror. I found myself surging past while giving a friendly wave on many occasions. The RC F makes for a perfect grand tourer as well as a canyon carver and yes it could use more torque, and it could use more power, but does it really need it. I don’t think so but there are rumors that a new version of the RC F is in the works with a new 4.0-liter twin turbo V-8 that could have 600 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. That might scare the Germans.
Slip into the very comfortable F performance seats and soak up the luxury, this Lexus smells good and not just the new car smell because it hardly had any miles on it, but the rich earthy smell of tanned hides. The drivers chair has 10-way power and has plenty of bolstering for those high-speed cornering maneuvers. The front seats get blue leather with white accents along with a blue accented shift knob, steering wheel and instrument panel hood. An embossed black headliner, which reminded me of a black suited Spiderman, gives the coupe’s interior a great look.
Lexus’s premium infotainment system with a 12.3 in screen, sat nav, and a multimedia interface looks super cool, and unlike the weird mouse of the GS F, the RC F as a much more user-friendly touch pad, which makes a pleasant bloop bloop sound when moving between menus.
Pairing an iPhone is easy and after that I set the satellite radio to channel 33 for afternoon music and to FM for NPR in the morning. The rest of the time I didn’t mess with it.
The dash is an interesting mixture of analog and digital gauges that seem odd at first but works well. The large digital tachometer changes when you switch drive modes going from cool blue in Eco mode to red in Sport + mode, which makes perfect sense.
Back seat occupants need to be quite small or work for Cirque du Soleil, room is scarce, and I wouldn’t expect many people including kids to be able to get comfortable in all but very short trips.
The original Lexus slogan was The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection developed after Team One representatives visited Lexus designers in Japan and noted an obsessive attention to detail. This is great but difficult to achieve and not always the best thing. Perfection can sometimes create a sterile anodyne environment bereft of charm and soul. Imperfections are good as long they don’t upset the driving experience, and this is what makes the 2018 Lexus RC-F great, it isn’t perfect, it doesn’t need to be. Instead it follows the mantra of the new Lexus slogan, Experience Amazing…….just go drive it and you’ll see.
2019 Lexus RC-F Coupe Numbers
BASE PRICE: – $64,650
PRICE AS TESTED: – $85,009
VEHICLE LAYOUT: – Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
ENGINE: – 5.0 liter, DOHC 32-valve Atkinson-capable V-8
POWER: – 467 hp @ 7,100 rpm
TORQUE:- 389 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
TRANSMISSION:- 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
CURB WEIGHT: – 3,958 lb
0-60 MPH: – 4.3 seconds
EPA CITY/HWY/COMBINED: – 16/24 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: – 14.7 mpg
CARGO SPACE: – 10.4 ft³
PROS: – Glorious V8 wail, full of character, superb handling
CONS: – This space intentionally left blank