2015 Lexus RC F: Manual Shift Mode Falls Short of Competitors
May 12, 2015
For everyday driving, the eight-speed automatic transmission in our 2015 Lexus RC F is just what I'd hope for in a modern auto. It upshifts smoothly as the RC F's speed increases and quickly drops down a couple of gears when you gently press on the gas for maneuvering through typical city traffic. The Sport S and Sport S+ drive modes further liven up the shift points and responsiveness.
You can also slot the gear lever to the left for manual shifting, pushing it forward for upshifts, pulling back for downshifts, or use the steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. The speed and smoothness of manual shifts also changes, depending on which drive mode you've selected.
But compared to other competitors with automated manual transmissions, the RC F doesn't quite measure up.
I find the RC F's manual-based shifts are pretty nice. "Sport S" mode, in particular, gives you quick control of gear selection and delivers the best balance of speed and smoothness. Switching to "Sport S+" quickens shift speeds and firms up response, but it's a little too much for street use.
But compared to models like the Audi RS 5 and BMW M4, the RC F, even in Sport S+, doesn't quite match those rivals for ultimate shift speed or precision. The upshifts lack the trigger-like quickness that makes the other cars feel more engaging. Downshifts aren't quite as quick, either. The third-to-second gear manual downshift also often feels poorly rev-matched, resulting in a lurch and unsettling of the car as second gear engages.
The RC F is lovely in "Drive," however, and that smoothness seems more important or valuable considering the majority of time spent just driving around and commuting. But if you want a more focused sport coupe with sublime transmission reflexes, especially for occasional track use, the RC F might be a little disappointing.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 8,896 miles