ROAD TEST: 2017 Lexus RC F

Lexus RC F
By Shari Prymak

For a number of years now, Lexus has been striving to move their lineup in a more performance-oriented direction away from their dull image. To achieve this goal, the brand has been expanding their high performance F division with cars such as this: the RC F. Many have compared the RC F to the performance car elites such as the BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C63, and said that it doesn’t measure up. To be fair to Lexus, many of those doubters are keyboard critics who have only driven one through a video game controller. Given the chance, the RC F can leave quite the strong impression.

I spent a week with one, and the more I drove it, the more I understood it. This is no M4-dominating track weapon. It isn’t even really a sports car. What Lexus has made here is a radically-styled grand touring coupe with strong performance, exceptional luxury, and a unique, yet intriguing character.

The styling isn’t to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying that it is striking. The world of performance coupes is largely dominated by reserved-looking German offerings that often fail to leave a strong visual impression. The RC F though is anything but reserved and subtle. This is a coupe that commands attention and will absolutely stand out in a crowd, especially if you go with the Solar Flare Orange paint job that my test car came in.

Lexus RC F

Opinions might be split on the looks, but few will be let down by the interior. The design is pretty much what you’d find in a base IS sedan, but the materials and build quality are still top-notch. Included are a pair of the very best sport seats in the market. They are both incredibly supportive and very comfortable, which is a combo that many of the aggressive sport seats struggle to nail. The distracting and frustrating to use infotainment system continues to be a Lexus weak point, but overall, this is one of the better interiors in the segment.

Like many of its rivals, the RC F uses a stiff rear-wheel drive chassis combined with performance goodies such as a torque-vectoring differential, adaptive suspension, Brembo brakes, and big wheels with grippy tires. That’s not what makes it special though. The reason why this performance coupe is something of a standout is because of what’s under the hood. The RC F is one of the last holdouts to the naturally-aspirated V8 engine, and what an engine. Revving it out to its 7300rpm redline unleashes all 467 horsepower and a howling wail that today’s muffled turbocharged powerplants could never hope to replicate. The sound is all free-breathing engine induction, and it sounds magnificent.

The straight line performance is not as quick as the turbocharged competition, but that just makes it more accessible and enjoyable on the road. Like the Mercedes-AMG C63 I tested a while back, the RC F is too hefty to be a true track weapon, but that’s hardly the point. On normal roads, and for highway cruising, the RC F feels solid, planted, and composed. The same engine that comes alive in the upper rev band stays whisper quiet under normal loads. The suspension too can be dialed down to level comfortable enough to withstand pothole-ridden city streets.

Lexus RC F

Anyone who is looking for some sort of LFA successor is setting themselves up for disappointment because that is not what the RC F is. The LFA was a Formula One inspired adrenaline rush of a supercar with mind-blowing performance. It was everything you’d expect from a car with a list price pushing $500,000. The RC F is a very different type of car. It is more of a grand tourer for daily errands, spirited drives, and perhaps the occasional track day. Used in that way, it’s an impressive machine.

With a starting MSRP of $85,400, think of the RC F as a less frenetic, unique alternative to the German rivals that, thanks to the brand’s reputation for reliability, can be used on a daily basis for years to come without the need to worry about costly repairs out of warranty.  The best argument against the RC F might just be Lexus’s own LC500. For about a 16 grand premium, the flagship coupe offers a more charismatic version of the same engine, even more striking sheet metal, and a more opulent cabin, among other bonuses. Choosing between two top-notch luxury coupes. If only all dilemmas could be this nice.

For more details, please visit the Lexus Canada website.