The Lexus RC F
We flew out to Marbella in Spain with Lexus to have a go on the soon to be available Lexus RC F. Heading to the infamous Ascari circuit and surrounding mountain areas, we were given full opportunity to see what sort of punch the RC F had packing, both at the hands of a ridiculous amount of professional drivers from Le Mans and touring car to world rally champions, and of course our own fine hands. Here’s how we got on in the new Lexus RC F.
What is the Lexus RC F?
The RC F is Lexus’ most recent entry into the coupe market, and no it isn’t some sort of a massive remote control car. The RC stands for radical coupe and the F stands for ‘Fiji’ the performance range of Lexus. Unveiled earlier this year, the RC F is very much a fine example of The Lexus rebrand. After the sort of cars Lexus have churned out in recent years it’s almost like Chief engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi has got bored of making hybrids and wants to have a bit of fun, and in this case fun comes in the form of a 5.0L V8 power house, the most powerful Lexus ever created.
That 5 Litre V8 we mentioned will push our a very healthy 467 horses and is set next to an incredibly slick 8 Speed Sports Direct Shift Transmission which will propel the RC F to 60mph in 4.5 seconds and on to a governed 155mph.
Lexus RC F Design
If we are honest, there are nicer looking cars out there, it’s very much a ‘Japanese Mercedes’ but that’s not to say it doesn’t have it’s attractive qualities. Boasting the curves of an F type and the size of a Panamera, alongside complete individuality in a number of areas, the Lexus RC F is actually quite the looker.
Built with aerodynamics in mind, the RC F is very curvy, with body panels made to feed airflow to all of the right places. Lexus have followed previous designs with the likes of their style of L.E.D lights and body features. Although missable on a quick pass, the exhaust is definitely something that adds to the aesthetics of the RC F. The RC F features a speed controlled rear spoiler and the very frequent Lexus curved front nose, which in my personal opinion is the one defect from a nearly perfect design. It takes the car away from what could be a slick and stylish performance car and brings it back to being…well…Japanese. However, from the route that Lexus have taken to get to this point it is almost certainly a giant step in the right direction and alongside the Will.I.Am backed NX and the incredible LFA, the inspiration and lessons are coming from all of the right places.
The expected modest number of units that will be sold in the UK make the design even more of a bonus, the exclusivity, something I will go into in more detail later, will make this car quite the head turner.
Lexus RC F Drive
On the track: We were fortunate or unfortunate enough depending on which way you look at it, to experience the RC F on a slightly wet track, meaning we had the chance to see how capable it really was.
The immediate response was how well the car gripped to the track, the super responsive steering then added to this, before having your face blown off by the power. With a number of driving modes from economy and normal to Sport and Sport +, with the usual track settings changeable, the level to which you want to take this car does seem to cater for all levels of driver. The safety conscious conservative driver who prefers to leave the traction control firmly in place, to the pro who wants everything off and to have the option to slide all over the place if they choose.
It took the corners beautifully and it only took me 1 or 2 laps to get used to the car and be able to push it a little further, all of which it took like a cool summers breeze. That’s in both fully automatic and dual clutch (flappy paddle) driving modes too.
On the road: Having just driven it on the track, the road driving was as expected, a touch underwhelming. It was however still as smooth as butter, incredibly smooth.
In the less sporty of modes, you will find the sound you want to kick in when you slam your foot on the pedal will take longer than you’d like in low speeds, but it just takes getting used to and feeding the throttle gently through each stage, then you’ll get the reward your after, and boy does it sound good. Get it right and this thing will hit the spot.
This car wants to be driven, and around the track it performed exceptionally, but I got the impression the car was just screaming for more on the roads, especially in low speed limits. Lexus talk about this car being a 2nd or 3rd car, and that makes perfect sense, it has too much for the road, vast amount of track technology, TVD (Torque Vectoring Differential), sport + and so on, there’s only so much road legal fun you could have in this car, but if you have that sort of cash for a 2nd/3rd car and perhaps enjoy the odd track day here and there, the RC F is a real competitor. I’d still drive it on the road of course, but when you can feel what the car wants to be and is capable of doing, it’s almost difficult to drive through those speed camera infested roads with too much of a grin on your face.
Economy: As mentioned the RC F does have an economy driving mode, something that isn’t too familiar in similar powered cars, mainly because if you have a 5.0L V8 under the hood why on god’s green earth would you not want to go fast, rev hard and be really loud while you do it. Ahh yes, the environment I hear you say, well luckily with their vast array of previous hybrid vehicles, Lexus have brought some of that technology into the RC F. This being achieved through technology and design features such as reducing pumping loss through the Atkinson cycle and thus improving fuel economy and emission compliance. Overall this will give you towards 25 mpg on a good run, not too shabby but not ground breaking.
Lexus RC F Technology
Under the hood: As mentioned briefly above the TVD (Torque Vectoring Differential), is a system that enforces smart distribution of torque on the rear wheels, just another feature that emphasises Lexus’s magic word with this car, stability. This is changeable, through a number of modes including slalom, standard and track, giving you pretty much whatever the sort of drive you want, it’s kind of like driving 3 different cars. The list of tech and design innovation under the hood in the RC F is VERY extensive…but it’s safe to say they are meant to help towards making the car more stable and balancing the amount of power it packs.
In the cabin: Lexus have taken a few of their innovations in terms of in-car technology from previous models such as the NX, but there are two main features that stand out. The touch pad control and the sound system. The touchpad works on finger placement recognition where you can control the navigation, music system and so on using your finger as a mouse on the centralised pad. After messing around with the sound settings and plotting in a few new destinations on the nav, it’s difficult to fault the touch pad. As you have to click with your finger once you get to the option you want to select it’s not that easy to get it wrong. I’m in two minds whether it’s any quicker or less distracting as claimed by Lexus, but it certainly isn’t complicated to understand. I can however see a lot of room for complaint as touch pads don’t like being hit too hard or drinks spilled on them. Apparently.
Another key feature is the sound system. Partnered with Mark Levinson, Lexus have used the top quality sound technology in their range for the last few years and the RC F is most certainly no exception. I come from a music background so what I will say next, I wouldn’t say lightly. This is, hands down, the best sound system I have ever experienced in a car. It’s phenomenal. It allows you to hear elements of a track that you would have missed through most headphones and car speakers. Retaining quality at very high volumes, and making that iTunes super compression no longer an issue. Welcome back good music sound quality, we’ve missed you.
Lexus RC F Price
This one may surprise you. The RC F base model starts at what I would say is a humble 59,000 with the upgraded ‘Carbon’ version at 69,000. Which to me is pretty good value for what you get in the car. Especially when you compare it to it’s competitors, most of which are heading towards 100K once you add the same features the Lexus has as standard.
Lexus RC F Verdict
Personally, I’m about the small touches. If a car has the power, the delivery of said power is fundamental, but it’s what it has after that that ticks my boxes. The RC F has something that no similar BMW, Jag or Porsche will have. Exclusivity. Porsche’s or even more so BMW’s are ten in a penny and as they say, only dead fish follow the stream. From anything within the same price bracket or engine size, to me it’s a no brainer. Why get a Porsche, Jag, Merc, BMW etc, when you can get a matching car in terms of power and be the only one within 100 miles who has one, and save yourself 10/20k. It may not have the same name and of course the polished and next level drive but it is starting to push pretty close.
The great cabin technology and I’ll say again, the best in-car sound system I’ve ever experienced, alongside stunning design and innovation, the Lexus RC F a real market shaker. It doesn’t however have the badge of a Jag, BMW or Porsche, something that Lexus don’t pretend to not be an issue with fairly modest sales expectations. This is a real shame and I hope that does change because it should be up there, and if the RC F is the first steps in their new movements to do so, it most certainly will be.