2015 Lexus RC F: V8 Guts and Glory Along Parched California Hills
May 6, 2015
Let's just say you've hypothetically stopped at an empty rural intersection in a 2015 Lexus RC F. There's no oncoming traffic in any direction. It's just you and emptiness. You've done your hypothetical pre-flight prep: "Sport S+" mode selected, traction/stability control safety nets loosened, gear shifter in manual mode. You let your foot off the brake and the RC F creeps out slowly.
Now you turn the wheel in and give the RC F the spurs. The 5.0-liter V8 spins up, the rear tires break loose, and there you are, rear end hanging out like an Alabama dirt track racer. You catch the slide with a bit of opposite steer and then tug on the right shift paddle for an upshift as the digital tach approaches the 7,100 rpm redline. The RC F's rear tires bark slightly as second gear catches and then you're off, hammering towards the horizon and distant ribbons of curving pavement.
This RC F is your typical Lexus about as much as Al Capone was just your typical beverage distributor.
Like Capone, the RC F does have a weight issue. ("I'm your density."). But I don't think that results in such a negative, fun-sucking time that you'd rather be anywhere else, including going to the dentist, a Knicks game or watching Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. If you've got an RC F and empty, curving road ahead of you, you can very well have a cracking good time.
What I like most about our RC F is the easily accessible performance. It's not an intimidating car to drive on a public road. There's a lot of grip, but not so much where I feel like I have to push myself to the limits of my talent (and thus risk pirouetting off a cliff face when it runs out) to have fun. The steering feels solid and communicative in Sport S+.
Around medium-speed corners in particular, just dial in the steering, keep your eyes up and then feed in some gas as you go around the apex to keep the car wonderfully balanced. This is not a slow car, but in some respect the old adage about it being more fun to drive a slow car fast applies.
As the same time, you've got a naturally-aspirated V8 as your companion. Sure, all the other automakers are going with turbochargers and/or cutting out cylinders and making more power. But the RC F's more relaxed, un-boosted, mid-range power delivery also contributes to the car's accommodating personality. Plus, credit Lexus with still giving us that guts-and-glory V8 sound.
True, Lexus has fitted the RC F with some sound enhancement. Normally the V8's noises are buttoned up, but get on the gas in Sport S mode and an in-car actuator (not the car's speakers, Lexus says) blends the V8's normal sounds with its own. Erm, so, it's somewhat fake, but with full wood and the revs coming up to seven grand, it really does sound operatic.
I completely understand why the 2015 Lexus RC F is ultimately going to lose out in the track battles, the bench racing and the comparison tests. But just driving along empty California canyon roads, I can think only that it's a very cool car that makes me happy.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 8,668 miles