Weighed-down as it may be, the RC F boasted great reflexes.
It has been just over two years since we first saw the Lexus RC in production form. Polarizing looks aside, there’s nothing that interests me more within the automotive industry than the introduction of a new two-door coupé powered by a naturally aspirated V8 engine. Despite the enticing numbers, the RC F has received its fair share of criticism from our media colleagues. We try to bring out some interesting, conversation-starting machinery to our annual season opener drive, so this year I grabbed the keys to a 2016 Lexus RC F in Liquid Platinum and set out for a wonderful week of driving.
Even within the DoubleClutch.ca editorial team, it appears as though the styling of the RC is either love it or hate it – there just isn’t any middle ground. We had extensive discussions when we had the 2016 RC 350 (reviewed here), and we couldn’t come up with a consensus about the car. I happen to love it – the fluidic lines flow perfectly and the proportions are just right. The LED headlights look great, and the carbon-fiber rear spoiler extends at speed. As part of the optional Performance Package (more about this later), the roof is also carbon fiber. One touch that could have made the entire package even better is carbon fiber mirrors – they are instead painted body colour.
At just over 4,000 pounds, the RC F is no lightweight, but its potent powertrain helps it haul some serious ass regardless of the environment. One fun fact is that the Lexus is portly, but only 13 lbs. fatter than the now-defunct Audi RS5. Under the long hood (with a scoop!) is a 5.0L naturally aspirated V8. This is the same fundamental block as in the old IS F, but with many new components including a larger throttle body, cams, heads, and intake manifold. The new coupé puts out 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft of torque. Under light loads, this engine is actually capable of flipping between Otto cycle to Atkinson cycle – this is instead of having any fancy cylinder deactivating technology.
There is no manual transmission available on this vehicle, which isn’t a surprise considering exactly none of its rivals offer one. The only available transmission is Lexus’ in-house eight-speed automatic, the same gearbox seen in the GS F (reviewed here). This unit is capable of pulling off swift, rapid shifts and can be manually shifted via either the paddles on the steering wheel or the manual mode on the shift lever itself. When the drive selector is placed in the “Sport” setting, the RC is capable of automatically matching revs on downshifts, and the transmission is intelligent enough to understand exactly which gear to be in, environment-dependent.
What’s even more magnificent is the noise emitting from the quad exhaust tips. Okay, the Lexus RC F isn’t as mental-sounding as a BMW M6 (reviewed here) with an M Performance exhaust, but it’s capable of some excellent sounds on its own. The cabin is reasonably quiet, but there is plenty of intake noise on wide-open throttle that synchronizes beautifully with the instrument cluster flashing bright red. This cluster is inspired from the LF-A supercar and, despite having trickled downmarket into cars like the IS 200t (reviewed here), it’s still a great party trick.
Around corners, once again the Lexus surprises the driver. Weighed-down as it may be, the RC F boasted great reflexes when tackling on-ramps, curves, and even harder cornering. The steering wheel is nicely weighted, and though electric, there is a good amount of artificial feel there. After considering the car’s size, it becomes evident that Lexus’ engineers have worked hard to ensure that it’s confident and composed around corners. The reality of the situation still is that the car is a better grand tourer and Autobahn-stormer than a sports car. The RC F will entertain in a straight line and keep you coddled on longer road trips, but try to take it to an autocross and its weaknesses will begin to show face.
The seats, in typical Lexus form, are on point, but the ride quality in an everyday setting is a bit on the thrashy side of firm. The RC F has fixed dampers, so the suspension is always in its firmest setting. This is great when “Sport+” is the setting you have chosen to drive in, ensuring that throttle, transmission settings, and steering weight is all in the sportiest modes, but for the daily commute, this can become a bit tiresome. Then again – my colleagues told me to stop complaining and man up, because the performance is why you’d opt for the RC F over the RC 350 in any case.
Lexus’ 5.0L V8 is wonderful on power delivery and response, but being a V8, one would assume that fuel economy is less than stellar. Many competitors such as the new Chevrolet Camaro SS (reviewed here) use cylinder deactivation to help highway fuel economy, but the Lexus relies on the eight-speed automatic to keep engine RPMs low. Over a week of testing, which included our season opener drive through some enticing back roads, we returned the RC F with an indicated average of 12.4L/100km. After doing some manual calculation, the actual efficiency was 12.2L/100km, and that’s using 91-octane premium fuel.
Employing a similar interior as the rest of the Lexus lineup, the RC F uses high quality materials and excellent fit and finish. The buttons all feel very good to the touch – especially the volume and radio tuning knobs. The driving position is wonderful, and the power-adjustable steering wheel and seats allowed me to find my ideal spot almost immediately. The infotainment system is still Lexus’ old RTI (Remote Touch Interface) using the touchpad controller, which is getting fairly long in the tooth now. We experienced the newer version of RTI in the RX 350 (reviewed here) and can say it’s worlds better. I expect the mid-cycle refresh of the RC Coupé to reflect this in the coming years.
Pricing for the 2016 Lexus RC F starts at $82,750 for the base car. Already well-equipped including the 19” forged aluminum wheels and full F-Sport kitting, our vehicle was also optioned with the $7,400 Performance Package. This package adds the Torque Vectoring Differential, unique wheels, carbon fiber roof, carbon fiber rear spoiler, and deletes the power moonroof. One thing I would have liked to see is carbon fiber mirrors to match the rest of the look. Things like navigation and LED lighting all around are standard equipment on all RC F models.
Conclusively, there is very little on the negative end of the spectrum to say about the 2016 Lexus RC F. It’s a car with dashing good looks, impeccable driving manners and a demeanour perfectly suited for everyday driving. Those opting to run their vehicles through Canadian winters will want to swap out the Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber for a good set of snow tires, but other than that, the car’s stability control systems and various technologies will help significantly. This is a car that may not be the most nimble around a small course, but will ultimately satisfy in its all-around capability.