The value in the RC F is that the car truly has two very distinct personalities.
When most people think of Lexus they think of quality, refinement, comfort and luxury. All great things, but certainly not performance. The folks at Lexus set aim to change that back in 2011 when they started by making some big waves with the launch of the LFA hypercar. A true dream car built with no expense spared, powered by a 552 horsepower V10 engine and wearing a price tag close to $500,000. The LFA is more of an inspirational figure than it is something that most enthusiasts would be able to own, especially considering only 500 were ever built.
Now though, you can have the next best thing; this 2017 Lexus RC F, a car directly inspired by the LFA, and built with the same quality and attention to detail that has earned Lexus its reputation. The influence of the LFA is clear just looking at the RC F’s sculptured, finned and scooped body lines. At first glance, it can seem a bit overdone, and the bright Solar Flare pearl orange color on the test vehicle only serves to exaggerate those lines. However, all the ducts, fins, the big vents cut into the front fenders behind the wheels and even the carbon fibre active rear spoiler are all functional in managing the air around the car for optimal aerodynamics, grip and cooling. Even the underbody wears carefully sculpted aerodynamics.
While the RC F does share a traditional coupe profile, there is no mistaking this car on the road as anything ordinary, and Solar Flare is certainly not the color for anyone who doesn’t care for attention. The good news is, since everyone will be looking at the car, the fit and finish is, as expected, impeccable. From the panel gaps, the machine-polished 19” forged aluminum wheels, stacked quad exhaust tips, even the glossy color-matched brake calipers and massive shining rotors; every detail on the outside of the car has been perfected.
The interior in the RC F is almost as nicely done as the exterior; dominated by two big high-back securely bolstered racing style seats. Unlike true racing seats these are wrapped in soft leather, heated, cooled, and uniquely padded to keep you comfortable yet firmly planted during spirited driving. I don’t think there is a seat out there more appropriate for this car. Surprisingly the rear seats do offer enough room for two kids, or even a small adult or two in a pinch. The space is tastefully trimmed with carbon fiber and aluminium accents, which appear to be masterfully crafted.
The interior does fall short of the rest of the car in a few areas though; the black plastic centre stack looks and feels out of place surrounded by high-end materials in the rest of the interior, as do the Toyota-standard interior door handles. Worse yet is the infotainment system, which is operated by a touchpad on the centre console. It’s slow and cumbersome to operate, difficult to navigate, and looks very outdated – definitely time for an update. On the other side of things, the LFA-inspired instrument cluster is stunning to look at, and provides all necessary information. The gauges morph themes in the different drive modes, and are crystal clear.
The RC F only has one option package available, known as the Performance Package and adding essentials for anyone who wants to get serious about tracking it. The star of the package is the torque vectoring differential (TVD) which transfers power between the left and right wheels to help keep the car pointed in the direction that you want it. The TVD has three modes; normal, slalom and track – each with their own unique feel from behind the wheel.
The Performance Package also deletes the power moonroof to add a solid carbon fibre roof panel, and you’ll also get the carbon fibre active rear spoiler, painted calipers, and the upgraded style of the 19” wheels. These toys do not come cheap and the Performance Pack adds $7,700 to the RC F’s base price of $85,000, pushing the as tested price to $92,700.
The price tag, along with any little interior quirks are all easily forgotten the moment you get behind the wheel of the RC F. Set the TVD and drive mode to the standard settings and drive along with a gentle foot and the RC F is a tame, comfortable, luxurious and quiet daily driver than remains true to everything that the Lexus brand stands for. Switch the car over to Sport or Sport+ and adjust the TVD to your liking and the RC F’s personality flips from a business man’s commuter to an all-out track ready sports car.
Steering, throttle response and the suspension tighten right up and your senses come alive as the infectious sound of the roaring 5.0L V8 fills the cabin. That V8 is the most powerful Lexus has ever put into a production car; boasting 467 horsepower, a mere 85 less than the famed V10 from the LFA. Torque is rated at 389 lb-ft., and since this is a traditional naturally aspirated V8, that power is delivered with absolute authority right across the RPM range. Also, despite being a rear-drive setup, the RC F launches with immense grip and the TVD helps keep the power under control no matter how hard you might dare to push it.
The RC F’s response and agility is downright impressive considering that it does weigh a rather hefty 4048 pounds. More impressive yet is that despite driving with a heavier foot than normal thanks to that addictively soulful V8, the Lexus still managed a very respectable average fuel economy of 12.2L/100km after a week of rush hour commuting. That’s comparable with much more pedestrian cars and simply stellar for something that boasts a tested 0-100km/h time of 4.3 seconds. Of course, the RC F requires premium fuel, and one little gripe is that the relatively small 66L fuel tank doesn’t offer a lot of range, so plan to make frequent fuel stops.
On performance alone, the 2017 Lexus RC F is impressive, but the hard truth is its performance can be rivaled by some of today’s more budget friendly performance cars such as the Camaro SS (reviewed here) for significantly less money. The value in the RC F is that the car truly has two very distinct personalities; and that makes it ideal for someone looking for a high-end business coupe during the week and a track car on the weekend. While there are at least a few cars on the market today that fit that bill, the big dog V8 with its touch of old school muscle sets the Lexus RC F apart from the crowd.
2017 Lexus RC F Gallery