- 2021 Lexus RC F ($65,975-$104-615)
- Pro: It is powered by one of the most charismatic naturally-aspirated V8’s on sale.
- Con: With a near-4,000-lb curb weight, it is neither nimble nor agile
Since its introduction back in 2015, the Lexus RC F has served as the brand’s best weapon against German rivals such as the BMW M4, Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe, and the Audi RS 5. While it certainly isn’t the lightest nor the fastest contender in its segment, this Lexus stands out in a world of turbocharged rockets by housing a howling 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated V8 under its hood.
As the 2021 Lexus RC F goes into its sixth model year, it sports a revised exterior, a high-quality interior, and a daily-driver-friendly suspension setup. Additionally, you even get great safety tech to ensure you can keep your 472-hp sports car on the road. However, its interior will need an update in the near future.
The 2021 Lexus RC F stands out with its aggressive yet sleek aesthetic
Let’s start with what is perhaps the most striking element of the 2021 Lexus RC F, how it looks. At first glance, it is painfully obvious how much the RC F had evolved since its inception back in 2015. The front end now gets brand-new headlights, revised lower air intakes, and a massive carbon-fiber front splitter. You’ll also find massive improvements in the rear bumper as this 2021 model adopts a sculpted aesthetic that effectively disguises this coupe’s large footprint.
My tester came equipped with loads of carbon-fiber goodies ranging from that aforementioned splitter to its roof and retractable spoiler. While these elements will help with weight savings, they mostly help the RC F stand out as a true sports car instead of appearing like Lexus with a big engine under its hood. Additionally, this couple sports strong body lines throughout that give it a level of dimensionality and intricacy that its German competitors don’t offer.
The Lexus RC F gets an interior befitting of a six-figure sports car
Given how much the 2021 Lexus RC F costs, you’d expect it to have an interior befitting of a six-figure sports car, and it does. Once I stepped inside, I immediately thought back to a larger LC 500 I drove a few weeks ago. While you don’t get the elegant leather dashboard, the RC F holds its own. The best part of this interior was the enormous bucket seats. Despite holding you tightly, these seats were never uncomfortable on long drives. You even get excellent levels of adjustability along with cooling and heating functionality.
Additionally, Lexus does a great job of covering all of your main contact points with leather. As a result, whenever you interact with the RC F, you’re usually touching various high-quality materials. However, despite this solid construction, a significant amount of road noise permeates through the cabin at speed. Hit the highway, and you’ll hear plenty of tire and wind noise, slightly encroaching what should be a luxurious experience.
The RC F provides the latest tech despite an aging layout
At the top of the dashboard, you’ll find a 10.3-inch infotainment screen, a significant upgrade over the standard 7.0-inch unit. As you’d expect from a 2021 model, it features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. However, you don’t get to access those systems wirelessly; you’ll still need to plug in your phone.
A trackpad in the center console controls your infotainment via a variety of swiping motions. When you first jump into the RC F, it’ll be quite difficult to precisely navigate the screen via this trackpad. Thankfully, the learning curve isn’t a steep one. Other touches such as a digital instrument cluster in front of the driver help modernize the cabin. However, we’ve had this layout since 2015, and it has begun to show its age.
Despite its aging layout, all of the buttons and switches in the interior feel substantial, like they will easily stand the test of time.
The 2021 Lexus RC F isn’t very light on its feet
Despite its sharp looks, there is no getting around the fact that the 2021 Lexus RC F is both big and heavy. With a 4,000-lb curb weight, the RC F isn’t exactly a track start. Throw it into a corner, and the front end wants to understeer, likely due to the weight of the engine over that front axle. However, if you mash the gas and go into oversteer, you feel the RC F’s heavy bones wanting to unsettle the car. Despite a clever adaptive suspension setup, and innovative traction control and torque vectoring settings, the RC F is far from light on its feet.
If you take the 2021 Lexus RC F out of a sporty driving scenario and onto a highway, you get a completely different beast. All of a sudden, the adaptive suspension does a great job of mitigating imperfections on the road. The hefty weight actually aids this ride quality and gives the RC F a solid feel at higher speeds. The RC F will gladly cruise triple-digit speeds, making this an excellent long-distance GT car. However, if you buy this car, you don’t do it because of how it handles; you buy its engine.
How fast is the 2021 Lexus RC F?
If you judge the 2021 Lexus RC F exclusively based on how it handles, you will miss out on its greatest party piece. Under the hood lives a 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated V8 producing 472 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. All of that power goes to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. When you consider that competitors from BMW and Audi both sport turbocharged six-cylinder engines, a howling V8 truly stands out.
After driving most of the new metal available, I can tell you that plenty of the latest sports cars feel quite similar. You get endless amounts of torque down low in the rev range and frightening speeds in an instant. On the other hand, the RC F makes all of its power at 7,100 rpm, near its redline. As a result, you get the joy of hearing its engine wind out and deliver its potent yet linear power output. The best part is that the RC F doesn’t bombard you with exhaust noise. Instead, you get heaps of intake noise, almost as if that V8 is alive and growling.
While the RC F doesn’t win a drag race against Germany’s best, it’ll provide you with the most rewarding driving experience in the real world, where top speed and 0-60 mph times are irrelevant.
Does the RC F come with standard safety features?
For 2021 the Lexus RC F now comes standard with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. These systems join other systems such as forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist, which came standard on previous model years. For the most part, I was pleased with how seamlessly these systems worked in the background to keep me on the road. A particular highlight was the lane-keeping assist which employs a subtle nudge where other competitors opt for brute steering inputs.
The 2021 Lexus RC F might be one of the most reliable sports cars you can buy
As you might expect, the 2021 Lexus RC F doesn’t exactly sell in massive numbers. As a result, gathering comprehensive reliability data is nearly impossible. However, the 5.0-liter V8 that lives under the hood of the RC F also exists in the GS F, LC 500, and the newly released IS 500, none of which have been the subject of massive recalls. Additionally, Lexus as a brand carries an extensive reputation for building some of the most reliable cars on sale.
Thanks to its lack of turbocharging and comprehensive simplicity, there is no reason to doubt the RC F’s long-term durability. As a result, while it may not be the fastest or the lightest sports car in its segment, its build-quality, comfort, and powertrain, make it the one I’d actually put in my driveway.
MotorBiscuit gives the 2021 Lexus RC F an expert rating of 7.5 out of 10
The MotorBiscuit editors rate the 2021 Lexus RC F a 7.5 out of 10. The RC F’s simple engine configuration should be easy to maintain in the long run and the car is quick off the line and sticks to the road in the corners. However, it could use a sportier stance and some updated in-cabin technology. Nonetheless, the Lexus RC F is a great sports coupe for anyone looking for a small car with a large V8.