New Lexus RC F 2015 review

Verdict as BMW M4-rivalling Lexus RC F coupe hits UK roads

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

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. 

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
New Renault Arkana 2021 review
Renault Arkana - front
Renault Arkana

New Renault Arkana 2021 review

Does an eye-catching coupe-SUV body give the new Renault Arkana the edge over other mid-size SUVs? We find out...
16 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring - front
Porsche 911

New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling

The optional Touring package aims to bring a few creature comforts to the track-focused Porsche 911 GT3
15 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021
'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'
Opinion Genesis Hyundai Ioniq
Opinion

'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'

Steve Fowler is impressed by Hyundai's electric cars, its N division and now its luxury Genesis brand
16 Jun 2021
New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power
SsangYong Korando EV
Electric cars

New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power

The new SsangYong Korando compact electric SUV will be on sale later in 2021, says the financially stricken South Korean manufacturer
15 Jun 2021
Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police
police speed gun
News

Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police

Lack of road traffic police officers in the UK is making it easy for drivers to break the law, according to a survey of 15,500 British motorists
16 Jun 2021