The Lexus RC F Is Almost Flawless, and I Wasn’t Expecting That
The Lexus RC F is sort of a holdout model in a dying breed. It has a V8, it’s rear-wheel drive, and, most importantly, it doesn’t cost a ton of money (there’s an asterisk to that statement. I’ll get to that later). Finding that trifecta in the luxury car world is typically a costly adventure. Because of this, I anticipated my time behind the wheel to be a bit underwhelming. Instead, though, I was blown away.
The Lexus RC F isn’t the king of cornering, but it’s a dream to drive
Perhaps the biggest mistake I made in going into the RC F is the same many folks make. I had led myself to believe that Lexus built this car to fill a similar slot to that of the BMW M4.
To truly appreciate the RC F, though, you need to understand that it leans more toward the grand touring sort of feel rather than the hardcore track genre. It’s more aligned with the iconic A80 (or MK4) Toyota Supra in that it has impressive acceleration and can hold its own through corners, but it’s really more about the enthusiasts’ enjoyment of driving as a whole, not so much about shaving track times and being perfectly efficient through a corner.
Under the hood, the Lexus RC F sports a 472 horsepower 5.0L V8 engine. The most powerful V8 Lexus has ever produced, to be exact. To be perfectly frank, it’s one of the best-sounding cars I have ever driven. It’s also mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. While it isn’t a neck-snapping dual-clutch assembly, it does shift up and down more than fast enough for a good time.
Road trips in the RC F are a dream come true
Upon exiting some windy mountain roads with tight corners, I wasn’t explicitly blown away by the handling capabilities. I was, however, smiling. It’s got plenty of cornering predictability. Furthermore, the screaming V8 will drown out a missed apex or a couple of seconds on your imaginary lap time. It’s just a fun car to drive. That’s it. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Where this monstrous V8 powerhouse truly excels, though, is the road trip. After all, grand touring cars are associated with a balance of performance and comfort to ensure you have fun all the way to your destination. The RC F is the epitome of grand touring perfection. Its bolstered seats hold you in place through corners, but they also sport soft and comfortable leather with both heat and ventilation.
If you read “road trip” and thought, “In a car with a V8? In this economy?” I don’t blame you. Take it from someone paying California gas prices, though. It’s fantastic. The EPA rating of 24 mpg highway is more than attainable. That’s even true if you say, enter the interstate with a bit more aggression than your standard onramp user. It’s a performance car with a V8! It’s almost legally required.
The interior does bring forward a couple of complaints
As I mentioned above, the racing-style seats in the RC F look and feel the performance part. Yet, they’re still almost unbelievably comfortable for the long haul. The rest of the interior follows suit, for the most part.
The door panels, steering wheel, and center console wear a wrap of leather. So, why Lexus opted to leave the top of the door panels and the entire dash in a cheap-looking plastic finish, I’ll never know. It really stands out against the other interior components, especially the Alcantara-wrapped gauge cluster hood that’s planted right on top of the plastic dash.
The interior tech is mostly fine, and the touch-screen infotainment system is even what I would call “great.” However, the touch-sensitive trackpad beside the driver seat to control the on-screen system without having to “strain” yourself to reach up to the touchscreen is wonky. I avoided using it almost entirely because when I did use it, it didn’t work that well. Worse yet, being touch-sensitive, it’s super easy to accidentally slide your hand on it if you’re reaching for something in the cup holder.
My biggest complaint overall, though, is the fact that it does not have a USB-C port. It has two USB-A ports and, for some reason, an auxiliary jack. I understand that the RC platform has been unchanged for the most part over the past few years, but these simple modernizations would be lovely.
The base RC F price is reasonable, but it can get ugly fast
All of this wonderful V8 grunt and smooth yet sporty driving come with a starting price of only $68,295. However, the one I drove is equipped with a carbon package. Just adding that package costs an eye-watering $17,775. Yes, I understand that carbon fiber is expensive, but that’s over a quarter of the base price! Yikes!
Worse yet, the eye-catching yellow you see pictured is available exclusively on Carbon Package RC F examples. If you want it in blue or red, you’ll need to at least add the premium package, which tacks on another $7,000. If you want to keep it around the base price, you only have the choice between black or white.
All said and done, one can easily equip a Lexus RC F to a price tag of around $90,000. That’s not including the Track Edition, which shaves a bit of time off the 0-60 time, adds carbon-ceramic brakes, and more track-oriented suspension. The starting price of that bad boy is $101,170. At that point, it’s hard not to imagine yourself behind the wheel of the Lexus LC 500 instead.
Overall, the RC F is an absolutely stunning experience to drive. At or around the base price, it’s an absolute steal. When you start going north of that price point, though, the competition in a similar price range starts to look more attractive. Still, if you’ve got a thing for an NA V8 and Lexus/Toyota engineering’s peace of mind, you really can’t beat it.