The RC F is Lexus' salvo against well-entrenched performance coupes such as the BMW M4, Cadillac ATS-V and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. At first glance, the RC F looks as if it has all the hardware it needs, with more aggressive styling, a 467-horsepower V8, upgraded Brembo brakes, and an optional torque-vectoring rear axle. But looks, as we all know, can be deceiving.
With a curb weight closing in on 2 tons, the RC F is about 400 pounds heavier than a BMW M4, and it shows in the way the car goes down the road. The RC F is reasonably quick in a straight line and it can keep up with an M4 on the track, but out in the real world it just doesn't feel as smooth and sorted-out as the cars against which it competes. Erratic shifts, a hard ride and poor cabin ergonomics are further strikes against the Lexus RC F; and at the end of the day, it's simply not as good as the class leaders.
Current Lexus RC F
Like other models in the RC family (reviewed separately), the Lexus RC F is sold in a single trim level. Standard equipment includes a 10-way driver seat with memory function and a power-operated steering column. Genuine leather is an option, though the standard upholstery (Lexus' NuLuxe) is a reasonable imitation. Most options are grouped into packages, and we're sure performance enthusiasts will be eyeing the Performance package, which bundles a weight-saving carbon-fiber roof and an electronic torque-vectoring rear axle. Normally we're fans of such advanced hardware, but in the case of the Lexus RC F, we recommend you skip it since we think the standard Torsen mechanical differential does a better job of putting the power down.
The standard 5.0-liter V8 delivers 467 hp and 389 lb-ft to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. We timed an RC F to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, which is quick but off the pace of the competition by a couple of tenths. The sound from the engine is great, though, and the EPA fuel economy estimate of 19 mpg combined (on premium fuel, naturally) is reasonable.
Out on the road, though, the RC F doesn't quite put it all together. The V8 lacks the torque of some of its turbocharged rivals, and the automatic transmission's rev-matching feature works erratically. Sometimes it shifts smoothly, but other times it jams into gear, causing the car to lurch and hampering the driver's ability to keep everything in balance. The quick-ratio steering makes turn-in feel uncertain, and the traction and stability control systems can be overly aggressive about reining in the driver's antics. Ride quality is one of the few things we really like about other RC models, but the RC F feels hard and jittery, to the point that we'd avoid taking it on a long trip. The one bright spot is the brakes, which grip well and resist fade.
Lexus interiors are normally a high point, but the RC F misses the mark. The ergonomics are terrible, and the touch-sensitive controls (specifically the touchpadlike stereo and navigation controller and touch-sensitive temperature sliders) require the driver to divert too much attention away from the road. The back seat and trunk are small, and there's precious little storage space for odds and ends such as cellphones. Front-seat comfort is good if you can fit between the deep bolsters. The RC F's one strong point is its quiet ride (interrupted only by some tire noise and the wail of the exhaust under hard acceleration). But considering all of the RC F's other faults, that's not enough to win us over.
Used Lexus RC F Models
The first-generation RC F hit the market for the 2015 model year. For 2016, the RC F was offered with orange-painted brake calipers and Lexus Enform Service Connect. 2017 saw the addition of adaptive suspension dampers and the smartphone-connected Scout GPS Link application.
Read the most recent 2018 Lexus RC F review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Lexus RC F page.