The distinctively styled Lexus RC F doesn't have it easy. Its German competitors were strong when it debuted in 2015, and they haven't relented in the meantime. The main hurdle for the RC F is weight — it is hundreds of pounds heavier than the BMW M4. In the traditional metrics of performance-car accomplishment, therefore, the RC F suffers. This prodigious poundage blunts not only its acceleration but also its eagerness to change direction. Moreover, its brakes can wilt under hard use, although this is something you'll only encounter when lapping a racetrack.
In the real world, the RC F finds its groove. Its interior is flat-out gorgeous, its seats superb and its driving manners refined. Its non-turbocharged 5.0-liter V8 may not pin you to your seat as firmly as the 467-horsepower rating suggests, but it's plenty quick for street use and makes wonderful sounds.
When it comes to the 2017 Lexus RC F, your choice of trim level is simple — there's no choice because there is but one trim level. There's a handful of optional packages, however, of which we particularly recommend the Premium package for its useful convenience items. Though the Performance package sounds tempting, it's pricey, and its active differential imparts a synthetic feel to the car's handling, even as it produces quicker lap times. We say skip it because this is not a track-focused car anyway.
The 2017 Lexus RC F is offered in a single configuration, so if it has piqued your curiosity, the only thing left to do is to decide on optional equipment. The Premium package is our favorite extra — it bundles a lot of the best stuff such as automatic wipers, LED headlights, heated and ventilated seats, parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert. Audiophiles will understandably be tempted by the 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system. You might think we'd automatically recommend the Performance package, but the RC F is one case where we suggest you reconsider. For its intended purpose of providing a sporty experience on the street, the RC F is just fine without this expensive add-on.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Lexus RC F (5.0L V8 | 8-speed automatic | RWD).
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Lexus RC F has received the notable addition of adaptive suspension dampers. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's RC F.
The numbers on the track don't match the way this car feels on the street. The RC F is some 500 pounds heavier than a BMW M4 and drives the part, so its 467-horsepower V8 is blunted to some extent. The transmission is slow to downshift, and the engine needs revs to thrive. Excellent brakes, though.
No launch control and a system that penalizes brake/throttle overlap make launches tricky. Zero to 60 mph takes 4.6 seconds. Upshifts are fast if you've selected the right mode. Otherwise, acceleration is less aggressive, but it still sounds good. Low-end thrust trails that of turbocharged rivals.
We experienced no fade during testing (the shortest stop from 60 mph was 110 feet) and found the firm pedal easy to modulate on both the track and the street. Very good.
Quick-quick-quick steering takes some getting used to. On the street, we were never quite sure how much input would be required for certain corners and were constantly readjusting.
On the track, the RC F nearly matches the BMW M4, but on the road, the heavyweight RC F suffers from understeer at virtually any speed, and its chassis is upset by imperfections. Competitors are more capable and rewarding.
In its sportiest mode, the RC F's eight-speed automatic upshifts quickly but suffers from erratic downshift speeds and rev-matching. Sometimes it matches revs; sometimes it simply slams the next gear down as the car lurches in response.
It's hard to get over the RC F's poor ride. The seats are exceptionally built, and it's not loud inside (as you'd expect from a Lexus), but the rough, jittery ride is out of place for a car in this class.
The RC F's seats are extremely comfortable if they fit you. The fixed bolsters are tight, the lumbar adjustment is only two-way, and there's no adjustable thigh support. There's lots of room for tall drivers, but lateral space is less generous.
For a car that doesn't have particularly sharp handling, it's surprising that the RC F's ride is so rough. Seemingly every road imperfection gets transmitted through the seats and steering wheel. Not a great road-trip car.
Noise & vibration
One of the traditional Lexus-like bits of the RC F is its quietness. With the exception of the rowdy exhaust note on throttle and some sticky-tire-related road noise, everything's calm and collected on the inside.
Design and materials are excellent, perhaps class-leading. Usability is poor, however, as is visibility. Space for passengers and stuff is merely OK.
Ease of use
The RC F is an ergonomic disaster, with only semi-responsive touch-sensitive temp sliders and the finicky Remote Touch touchpad controller (which takes the place of a knob/button setup or touchscreen). Simple tasks become distracting and frustrating.
Getting in/getting out
Coupes tend to have unwieldy doors, and this one is no exception. It's thoughtful that the front seats automatically slide forward to afford rear seat access, but they are infuriatingly slow and threaten rear passengers' shins/feet upon return. Fixed side bolsters don't help.
The RC F provides above-average front room if you're narrow-bodied or have narrow feet. The rear seats are the least roomy in the segment. The cabin feels tight, not airy.
Visibility is challenging, especially with the rear blind spots. A rearview camera is standard. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and front and rear parking sensors is optional.
Take things like performance and ride out of the equation and this feels like a $70,000 car. Beautiful materials, excellent workmanship. Feels solid and refined.
With a smallish trunk, limited cabin storage options and a fixed-in-place rear seatback, practicality takes a hit.
It lacks cubbies and nooks and has shallow bucket cupholders, a small center bin, narrow and hard-to-access door pockets, and only an adequate glovebox.
The 10.4-cubic-foot trunk is small for a coupe. The RC F loses the 60/40-split folding backseat of its lesser RC stablemates and gets a small center pass-through instead.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.