Editor’s note: If you’re looking for information on a newer Lexus RC, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Lexus RC Review.
The entirely new 2015 Lexus RC F coupe is built with a level of engineering that is extremely impressive. We all know that Lexus produces cars that are built superbly, offering comfort, convenience and reliability. The Lexus team even makes buying and servicing their cars a pleasure. Up until recently, however, something has been missing from the Lexus lineup: a competitive performance coupe.
F Is Like M
BMW’s M division takes regular models from the German company’s range and ramps them up into high-performance machines that can deliver many consecutive laps of hard acceleration, blazing speeds, extreme braking and tenacious cornering. These vehicles also sport specially designed aerodynamic body parts and features such as highly supportive sport seats. Mercedes-Benz also follows the same formula with its AMG models, and Audi with its RS line.
Lexus has now stepped up to the plate with the RC F — a model based on the 2015 Lexus RC 350 but enhanced to compete against the best performance coupes out there, such as the 2015 BMW M4, 2015 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and the 2015 Audi RS 5. These German contenders all have strong backgrounds in motorsport, where technology trickles down to street machines. Lexus has also announced plans to race its F cars. See the 2015 Lexus RC F models for sale near you
Fire It Up
It all starts with a 5.0-liter V8 engine making 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft of torque — no turbos or superchargers, just good old muscle. This connects to a supremely refined 8-speed automatic transmission (with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles) that makes the rear wheels turn. Stark facts such the ability to go from 0-to-60 mph in 4.4 seconds to cover a quarter-mile in 12.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 170 mph only give an outline of the RC F’s full story.
There’s also a torque-sensing (Torsen) limited-slip differential that can distribute drive to the rear tire with the most traction in order to lend confidence and speed throughout bends. If that’s not enough, there’s an optional torque-vectoring electronic differential that can slow or accelerate either rear wheel, allowing for the elimination of slip and the optimization of grip.
Grip is supported by an adaptive suspension, with modes ranging from comfort (still pretty firm) to sport plus, along with fat, low-profile performance tires (Michelins) that inform the driver of every expansion joint encountered on the freeway. That’s about all the noise that gets into the cabin, though, apart from the engine’s roar when it’s revved hard.
In a car built for speed, it’s always good to be able to stop, which the RC F can certainly do. Its brakes have also been upgraded from the standard RC 350’s, now with bigger Brembo rotors and calipers. Initial bite is reassuring without being "grabby." It’s beautifully progressive — all the way to standstill.
The RC F is virtually foolproof to drive fast. It would take a huge mistake or a ridiculously dumb move to unsettle it. Lexus did everything right when building this car, from its rigid body to a complex set of electronic aids for the driver. But there’s still something missing.
Sure, it’s a cliche to criticize Lexus for making unexciting cars. It’s also inaccurate because the RC F is definitely exciting. For the sake of argument, though, let’s examine the handful of milliseconds between when the front wheels hit the point of turn-in and when the drivers’s seat reaches that same point. In a vehicle like the BMW M4 (the company’s new coupe-version of its iconic M3), this wouldn’t be noticeable. It would almost seem to know the road and flow into the corner. There’s not the same fluidity in the RC F. It’s as if it’s taking those milliseconds to wait for instructions.
Admittedly, this is splitting the finest of hairs, but if a potential buyer test-drives every car in this class (and they absolutely should), it will be harder to argue that the RC F is better than the M4 or C63 AMG. Someone who bought the BMW wouldn’t look at an RC F on the road and wonder "what if?" but a Lexus driver might see an M4 and have that thought.
The 2015 Lexus RC F will be available in November 2014 and starts at $63,325. It comes packed with many standard features such as 19-inch alloy wheels, thin-film transistor instruments, power-adjustable front seats, puddle lamps and a multi-information display. Options include navigation, radar-based cruise control, carbon-fiber roof and rear wing, and an upgraded audio system. The Premium package is expected to be the most popular, costing $4,400 more for heated/ventilated front seats, driver’s seat memory, blind spot/rear cross-traffic monitoring, rain-sensing wipers and a carbon-fiber interior trim. Find a Lexus RC F for sale