New Lexus RC F 2015 review
Verdict as BMW M4-rivalling Lexus RC F coupe hits UK roads
It’s not the most thrilling high-performance coupe money can buy, but the Lexus RC F isn’t without its charms. The 5.0-litre V8 needs to be worked hard, but it sounds good and relishes revs. And, while the ride is firm, handling is approachable and engaging. Factor in the build quality and a generous kit count, and the RC F is an interesting alternative.
The RC F is only the third performance model from Lexus’ F Sport division, following the IS F saloon and the raucous LFA supercar. As a focused coupé, it’s got plenty of competition on its hands, especially around the £60,000 price mark.
At the heart of the RC F’s driving experience is its naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8, which produces 471bhp – 46bhp more than a BMW M4 – and a typically bellowing soundtrack. Combined with a reasonably slick eight-speed automatic box, it allows the Lexus to blast from 0-62mph in just 4.5 seconds. Yet it never feels as fast as the figures suggest.
Peak torque isn’t delivered until 4,800rpm, meaning the RC F is a little lethargic at lower speeds – it’s certainly not as potent as the turbocharged M4. Acceleration is further blunted by the hefty 1,765kg kerbweight. Let the revs rise beyond 5,000rpm, however, and the coupe really begins to fly.
On the road, the RC F’s suspension, which isn’t adjustable, is on the acceptable side of firm, and the refined cabin means it’s a great long-distance cruising companion. However, the Lexus’ chunky kerbweight makes it feel less responsive than a BMW M4 on a twisty road or a race track.
Turn-in is sharp – especially with the torque vectoring diff on our test car set to the Slalom mode, which improves agility – but the RC F’s chassis doesn’t generate the same level of grip as an M4’s, plus it feels heavy and lethargic when you ask it to change direction quickly. There’s not as much feel flowing back through the nicely weighted steering, either, and although it doesn’t make the Lexus feel lifeless, it doesn’t involve you in the experience quite as much as we’d like.
The Lexus isn’t helped by its eight-speed automatic gearbox. Although the transmission is slick in auto mode and upshifts are snappy in the most aggressive manual setting, it doesn’t respond quickly enough to inputs from the steering wheel-mounted paddles coming down the gears.
The racy theme is present inside, where you’ll find a pair of figure-hugging, high-backed seats, a chunky three-spoke steering wheel and an all-new TFT display for the driver. This neat set-up features a large central rev counter that changes its look depending on whether you’re in the Eco, Normal, Sport S or Sport+ driving mode. There’s also a screen that can be configured to display anything from the sat-nav guidance to your cornering G-forces.
It’s fair to say the RC F is not for shy, retiring types – especially in our test car’s optional £625 Solar Flare orange paint. From every angle, the Lexus is undoubtedly striking.
At the front, the brand’s signature spindle grille juts forward beneath the car’s hunched bonnet and dominates the sporty coupé’s styling. There are more big vents beneath the front lights, too, which gulp air to cool the RC F’s sizeable brakes.
Designers have paid particular attention to the headlamps. Thee main units give the car an aggressive scowl, with smaller LED running lights in the style of Lexus’ swoosh design to give some family resemblance.
The angular styling continues down the RC F’s flanks, with sharply defined creases shooting back from the front wheelarches and into the rear light clusters. Plenty more slashes and cuts feature at the back, with a small boot spoiler and vertically stacked twin tailpipes.
Elsewhere you’ll find a decent 366-litre boot and plenty of handy storage – although the rear seats are cramped. There’s also a lengthy list of standard kit that includes sat-nav, LED headlamps, a 10 speaker stereo and a whole suite of safety features. Go for the flagship £67,995 Carbon model and you’ll get the torque vectoring differential as standard, plus a carbon fibre roof, bonnet and tailgate spoiler.