2015 Lexus RC F Review

F Marks the Spot for Driving Pleasure

2015 Lexus RC F Review

Here’s an automotive riddle for you: what two-door car is blazingly fast but doesn’t stop? Which one is cool to the touch and scorching hot at the same time?

FAST FACTS

Engine: The 2015 Lexus RC F is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that puts out 467 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque.

Transmission: The only transmission offered in this car is an eight-speed automatic.

Fuel Economy: On the economy front the RC F stickers at 16 miles per gallon in urban driving and 25 on the highway resulting in a combined score of 19 MPG.

Price: Base price for a 2015 Lexus RC F is $63,325, including $925 in destination fees.


 
I’m not describing the new Jaguar F-Type, a Porsche 911 or even Chevy’s Corvette. The car in question is actually a Lexus. The brand-new RC F is a high-performance coupe that’s got serious substance backing its style. It handles well, is blazingly fleet and because it’s a Toyota at heart it’ll never quit.

RC F You

Yep, believe it, this is a Lexus with attitude. This well-mannered luxury brand that’s known for selling legions of RX crossovers and ES350 sedans has built a coupe with the design, dynamics and on-track performance to compete with some pretty thorny rivals.

One glance at the spec sheet reveals the RC F’s got the right ingredients to go wheel-to-wheel with cars like the Audi RS5, BMW M4 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.

In recent years the company has been on a mission to inject more passion into its product portfolio; they’ve been busier than an librarian with obsessive compulsive disorder and a jumbled-up card catalog. More aggressively styled vehicles, enthusiast-focused F-Sport models and the world-beating LFA supercar have proven that Lexus actually has soul, not just sensibility and the New RC F is the next step on this continuing journey.

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Company executives hope this car, and the rest of the RC lineup, which includes a base model as well as an F-Sport variant, will help attract younger buyers to the brand.

Look At Me!

2015 Lexus RC F 15

To play the role you’ve got to look the part. Ensuring this car never gets lost in the crowd designers have given it a seriously aggressive body, which is to be expected. This is essentially a production version of the LF-CC concept car that bowed in 2012.

The RC F’s face is dominated by the brand’s massive spindle grille, which takes up most of the front. Angular daytime-running lamps are separate from the main light assemblies and the front fenders are better ventilated than a hotel’s HVAC system. These aggressive outlets help exhaust heat from the engine compartment and smooth airflow around the body.

Three different wheel designs are available and they’re all made from lightweight forged aluminum spanning 19 inches.

2015 Lexus RC F 06For drivers that want an extra dose of style and a slightly lighter curb weight, the roof and active rear spoiler can be made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. It’s a cool-looking addition but of course it’s an extra-cost option.

Around back this machine’s rump is just as in your face. Pointed tail-lights, lots of intriguing surface details and the F brand’s signature stacked quad exhaust tips round out the exterior.

Curiously the new RC’s architecture is constructed of parts pilfered from several other Lexus vehicle platforms. The front section comes from the GS sedan while the car’s middle is actually borrowed from the IS C drop top. As for the rear structure, it comes from the new IS sedan.

Dimensionally the RC is both shorter and wider than the IS. Additionally its platform is a whopping 50 percent stiffer than the GS.

Vroom With a View

2015 Lexus RC F 19

Inside, the car’s cabin is nicely trimmed with squishy-soft plastics and smooth leather. Wavy stitching is splashed across the door panels and front seats, which adds a dash of flair to the interior, though the overall design is a lot busier than I typically like. Each to their own, I suppose.

As expected in a Lexus everything has a high-quality feel. The switches and controls work well and seem like they’re built to withstand a lifetime of abuse.

2015 Lexus RC F 17The company has developed a new interface paradigm for the car’s infotainment system. Their latest version of “Remote Touch” does away with the mouse-like joystick used in the previous iteration. Now it incorporates a clicking touchpad, just like a laptop computer.

This interaction method takes some getting used to because it doesn’t feel quite as natural. Fortunately the Lexus engineers incorporated surprisingly effective haptic feedback into the pad, which helps give you a better idea of what you’re pointing at.

The RC F’s front seats are road-trip comfortable and surprisingly supportive on the racetrack, though they are a tiny bit snug around my ribs. If you’re sized like a normal person you may find the car’s accommodations a little tight, especially if you try to climb into the cramped back seat.

2UR-GSE

2015 Lexus RC F 03

So it’s got striking design and a nice interior, but what matters most with the new Lexus RC F is under the hood.

Hauling mail is a 5.0-liter V8 engine. If this sounds familiar it should because this powerplant has served active duty in the IS F sedan for years, though for 2015 it’s been newly invigorated. If you want to impress your friends its internal designation is 2UR-GSE.

The only major component these engines share is the cylinder block. The RC F’s incarnation features a higher compression ratio, bigger intake and exhaust ports, titanium valves, new camshaft profiles, forged connecting rods and countless other improvements.

The result of all this engineering tomfoolery is 467 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque plus the ability to reach 60 miles an hour in just 4.4 seconds! The only transmission offered in this car is an eight-speed automatic.

2015 Lexus RC F 14Helping put all that power to the pavement, a Torsen limited-slip differential is standard, but for extra dough you can opt for a fancy torque-vectoring unit. This electronically controlled wonder has three different settings and is designed to help the car rotate through corners, making it massive fun to toss around.

Bringing everything to a safe stop are powerful brakes. The front rotors clock in at nearly 15 inches, the rears almost 14. Combined this quartet of binders provides plenty of clamping power for fade-free performance time after time, lap after scalding-hot lap.

To preserve a modicum or environmental responsibility this powerplant can actually run on the Atkinson cycle while at cruising speeds. Delaying the closure of intake valves effectively reduces the displacement of the engine, improving fuel economy in the process. Accordingly the RC F should sticker at 16 MPG city, 25 highway and 19 combined, which isn’t too bad for a performance car of this caliber.

Track Time

2015 Lexus RC F 13

Unquestionably the best place to evaluate a machine like this is on a racetrack. You can push it to the limit without endangering the general populace or getting a heap of points on your license when ol’ Smokey catches you having too much fun.

The RC F was designed for drivers of any skill level meaning it’s approachable for novices yet still engaging enough to keep veteran enthusiasts entertained. Engineers hit this broad target; the car feels secure at all times yet it will still get sideways if you know what you’re doing.

Evaluated under the trying conditions of a high-speed road course the RC F acquitted itself quite well. The thing accelerates as effortlessly as a hurricane making landfall. It’s blazingly fast yet buttoned down enough to build driver confidence.

2015 Lexus RC F 02The RC F’s 5.0-liter V8 screams all the way to a 7,300-RPM redline and produces a wonderfully reedy-sounding tune that’s reminiscent of the LFA, though the car’s sound-synthesizing system (Active Sound Control) probably had a lot to do with its symphonic performance.

Likewise, the steering is impressive. The tiller is very direct with plenty of feedback. Snaking through corners, the body remains planted like a century-old oak.

If there’s a weak part to the RC F’s track performance it’s probably the transmission. At times it seems a little slow to respond. You’ll request a gear change with one of the paddle shifters and it’s followed by an uncomfortably long delay before anything happens. In racing situations the wait seems seems like an eternity.

2015 Lexus RC F 18Partially making up for this gripe, the transmission will do something pretty neat if you just leave it in drive. Depending on what mode you have it in the RC F can measure the G’s you’re pulling and anticipate gear changes. If you’re hard on the brakes entering a corner it will automatically downshift and hold that lower ratio through the turn so you can power out after the apex.

As much fun as it is on a track the RC F is a little less enjoyable on the street, though still lots of fun. The ride is pretty stiff on anything less than ideal surfaces and speed limits become an exercise in mastering self restraint because of how powerful it is.

2015 Lexus RC F 08

The Verdict

Overall the 2015 Lexus RC F competes very favorably with its primary rivals, though it’s practically guaranteed to top all of them in at least one area: reliability. This is a Toyota after all. The car is a blast to drive but is that enough for Lexus to breakthrough in the tough luxury performance-coupe segment? We’ll have to see how customers react, though all of the necessary ingredients are there.

Finally for the all-important issue of pricing; the RC F should start at $63,325. But since we’re all not lawyers or corporate vice presidents the base RC should kick off around 44 grand. Both of these figures include delivery charges of $925. You can look for these cars at Lexus showrooms in November.

  • gackerman

    aggressive styling? how about ugly front end that lacks imagination and copies who? who started the ‘gaping yaw’ of a front end? was it Audi? as to auto transmissions that don’t shift fast, you can go back to ’98’s Lexus GS with buttons on the steering wheel that were for looks and not quik shifts. in other words, 17 years later and still no trans that can shift (may as well bring back a manual trans). maybe they should buy the tech from GM’s A8 automatic used in the ’15 Corvette Stingray. why not? hands-across-the-ocean and all that kumbaya.

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