Lexus enjoys an illustrious reputation for producing luxurious but less than exciting cars. Turning their focus to aggressive styling, a new troop of vehicles was born in 2007: the F Sport series. Counting the IS F and LFA supercar among its ranks, the F stable receives a facelift with the introduction of the RC F. As the big brother to the Lexus RC 350 F SPORT we drove a few weeks ago, the RC F takes an already masculine vehicle and ramps it up to extreme levels. If the RC F – with its deep set-grille, intelligent cooling ducts and blazing fenders – is anything to go by, we cannot wait to see what Lexus have in store for the freshly unveiled GS F.
The palette of exterior colors extended to customers is out of this world. We enjoyed the Molten Pearl paint job when test driving the RC 350 F SPORT a few weeks back, with Liquid Platinum, Infrared, Nebula Gray Pearl, Obsidian and Ultra White (my favorite) also available. Our shade this time around was the exclusive Ultrasonic Blue Mica ($595 extra).
My love of the high-performance F marque, with its aggressive styling and masculine presence, isn’t a secret, and while I did enjoy the bold architecture of the RC 350 F SPORT, this racing coupe takes things to bold new heights. During a week on the road, I received more compliments than I’ve received in a decade, possibly longer, and turned more heads than a hairdresser (or any other car I’ve tested to date).
Attention grabbing is a pleasant side affect of the car’s low, wide stance, and the 19-inch hand polished 20-spoke forge alloy wheels ($1,500) don’t hurt either. Likewise, the sleek LED headlamps, F-badging and imposing hood vent compliment a low-slung Lexus spindle grille to enhance its threatening appearance. Hood and side cooling ducts are a noticeable design and performance improvement that effectively remove heat from the engine and brakes.
Unfortunately, our tester wasn’t equipped with the carbon fiber roof or wing. It’s not all bad though; we were consoled by a vast moonroof ($1,100 option) and speed-activated rear wing that whips into action by pushing a button once speeds of 50 mph or above are reached, which enhances response time and aerodynamics.
Looking towards the car’s rear, things get even better. Aside from the 350Z NISMO, this is the best-looking behind I’ve seen for some time. The beastly – and vocal – Quad Exhaust doesn’t just look fierce; it minimizes backpressure to effectively ramp up rpm output.
Lexus is synonymous with sleek and superior craftsmanship, and the RC Fs interior is a prime example of the carmaker’s prestige. The Premium Package bestowed on our blue beauty added $4,400 to the overall cost of the vehicle, and is worth every last cent. Modeled after the LFA supercar, an LCD gauge cluster with shift indicator is the first thing that demands attention.
Cocooned by carbon fiber trim and side panels stitched in blue, the race-ready cockpit is a driver’s dream; it fits like a glove and is so intuitive it feels like an old (very modern) friend. No clumsy misuse of windscreen wipers or confusion over which switch to push. The expertise of the creative team, and quality of materials, becomes obvious when handling the ‘F’ spec paddle shifters attached to the steering wheel. This is one of the most user-friendly power tilt/telescoping steering wheels you’ll find on the market today, and it made audio selection via the Lexus Premium Audio System a cinch.
In other news: the racing pedals made me feel like Lewis Hamilton minus millions of dollars and hundreds of pairs of sunglasses.
One-touch auto open/close power windows kept my hands planted firmly on the steering wheel during high velocity turns, which, it turns out, are no match for the heavily bolstered high-back NuLuxe Trimmed ‘F’ Spec Sport seats ($800 extra). The distinctive, leather-trimmed seats with classic ‘F’ embossing also enjoy heating and ventilation as well as 10-way power memory-adjust settings.
Tests have revealed EPA numbers of 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg in the highway for an average of 19 mpg. At 17.7 mpg, we didn’t achieve the average. Perhaps if we’d taken advantage of Eco mode our numbers would have improved, but our preference is always performance over economy, so we can’t moan too loudly.
Hello, lover! Yes, I’m talking to you Lexus, with your roaring 5.0-liter V-8 and 8-speed sport direct-shift automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted ‘F’ spec paddle shifters for manual maneuvering. It’s refreshing to see a car company embrace, rather than shy away, from the V-8 game. As the performance version of the RC 350 V-6, I was ready for a serious dose of adrenalin, but never expected the powerhouse results this supreme engine outfit produces.
The 2015 Lexus RC F is no slouch in the power department, reaching 60 mph in a glorious 4.4 seconds and redlining at 7,300 rpm. Horsepower sits at 467, a number kept down due to the car’s weight (the RC F weighs 400 pounds more than the BMW M4 and 200 pounds more than the outgoing sedan). However, the RC F blitzes less sturdy competitors over longer distances with its overhauled engine. Unlike the outgoing IS F setup, the engine output found here is superior in almost every way, with manual shifting the most welcome addition.
A higher compression ratio and more substantial intake/exhaust ports are just the beginning. Titanium valves and connecting rods transport 389 lb.-ft. of torque by way of a Torsen limited-slip differential for handling and grip so tight you’ll barely feel a bump let alone a burnout. That super-smart spoiler out back keeps downforce to a minimum at all times and in all modes, and combined with the rigid and spirited chassis my experience behind the wheel was almost religious. I certainly found myself praising the Lexus gods after my week on the road.
Reliable brakes are a must when deploying the breathtaking Sport modes and Brembo sourced ventilated disc brakes do a mighty fine job aiding the car’s ability to halt from 60 mph to zero in about 108 feet.
The merit of the perfectly weighted steering wheel also becomes evident in Sport mode, not to mention the pinpoint accurate throttle that responded like a well-trained police dog.
Tackling city congestion and abandoned highways with the same undeniable force, there’s no doubt the RC F is equally comfortable on the racetrack as it is on the street. And no matter the conditions, the luxurious cabin refuses to succumb to vibration.
Overall, this is one mean machine that doesn’t shy away from anything, and stands apart from almost everything.
The $4,000+ Premium Package covered more than a few carbon fiber trims and interior elements. The bundle also welcomes premium triple beam LED headlamps, auto-dimming mirrors with reverse tilt and rain-sensing wipers. The most impressive inclusion, without doubt, has to be the electroluminescent gauges with shift indicator, oil temp and Voltmeter gauges. More athletic than the Williams sisters combined, the gauges aren’t just informative and easy to read and use, they’re sexy as hell.
Lexus have spared no expense in terms of safety. I felt more than comfortable pushing the car to its limits with the knowledge I was protected by advanced front airbags, knee airbags, and Supplemental Restraint System (SRS). 3-point seatbelts with force limiting pretensioners are offered to all passengers and the blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alerts WERE indispensible when transporting a few big heads in the backseat last week. A friend’s mohawk was no deterrent to perfect reverse parking thanks to Intuitive Park Assist.
Luckily, the backseat shenanigans never became so distracting that the smart stop technology needed to be employed, but the knowledge it’s there is a tremendous comfort, especially when attempting to reach the top speed of 170 mph. Likewise, Safety Connect features like stolen vehicle location, 1-year Enhanced Roadside Assist and Emergency Assist (SOS) thankfully remained inactive but their presence was appreciated. More than appreciated was the well-used Navigation/Mark Levinson package and its 5.1 audio surround sound system.
All 17 speakers were pulsing throughout our time on the road. The remote touchpad controller is the only aspect I would fault. Not for its lack of functionality – it worked brilliantly – but for my front passenger’s tendency to take control and blast his horrendous taste in music. The sound levelizer (ASL) made his racket more bearable and thankfully bouts of Bluetooth steaming from my Spotify account saved me from throttling him and throwing his iPhone out the window.
Lexus Insider and Enform Destinations also get a look in, and led us seamlessly to a golf course just out of town. Siri Eyes Free voice command never missed a syllable and the App suite synced seamlessly with the various devices in the car.
It feels like summer has outlived it’s welcome this year, but you’d never know with the auto dual-zone climate control and pollen filter (you’re welcome sinuses!).
The standard RC F can be had for just $62,400, but with a trunk full of extras our Ultrasonic Blue Mica model was priced at $74,560. This figure included the 19-inch hand-polished wheels, leather trimmed interior seats ($800), navigation/Mark Levinson Package ($2,840), special paint ($595), Premium Package ($4,400) and moonroof.
When compared against other luxury and sports-oriented coupes – and the competition is extensive – the RC F comes out on top every time. The Audi AWD RS 5 weighs the same as the Lexus and does its best to keep up, as does the new ATS-V coupe and outdated Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG coupe.
The BMW M4 is the most apparent opponent, and while it offers a fun ride it lacks the grunt and luxury of the Lexus.
With aggressive ‘Predator’ styling, superb handing, LFA-inspired interior, and the sweet, sweet sounds of the V-8 and its sensual thrust during acceleration make this a clear winner.
There is very little to dislike about this car, but if you put a gun to my head I’d say the backseat could use a few extra inches and the touchpad infotainment controller could be less distracting.
To be completely honest, this piece of art masquerading as a car sits at the top of my test-drive portfolio. All that’s left to do is take a cold shower and wait for some seat-time in the GS F.
Photo Credit: Copyright 2015 Angel Mosqueda / Car Fanatics Blog