2016 Lexus RC F: A Great, But Flawed Sports Coupe
The Lexus RC F is a bit of a rarity in the luxury sports coupe segment. The Mercedes-AMG C63 and the BMW M4 — key RC F rivals — now both rely on turbocharging to meet emissions targets. The RC F does not. It’s naturally-aspirated V8 is unlike anything I’ve driven in a Lexus product before, and propel the RC F to my favorite of the three. But it’s not without a couple of flaws that dampen the experience.
When Lexus dropped off the $79,355 Molten Pearl RC F I knew I’d be in for a fun week. This particular RC F was loaded with nearly everything you could option, including the $5,500 Performance Package that adds a carbon fiber roof, wing, and a true torque-vectoring rear differential. You want the differential, but more on that later.
While competitive in its space, an $80,000 coupe is still a lot of coin, but you do get a lot for the money. Where the Lexus really shines amongst lesser-vehicles is the interior fit and finish. The build quality is excellent, from the blue quilted leather to the carbon fiber interior bits. There are faster cars for the money, but not too many that are more luxurious.
The 5.0L DOHC V8 makes 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft of torque. Because there is no turbo, the Lexus’s V8 needs to be wrung out to high RPMs to really get moving. When you do, especially in Sport+ mode, the engine really comes to life. It doesn’t sound like a high-strung Italian beast, but rather it sounds like the motor came straight out of Carl Edwards’ #19 NASCAR Toyota Camry. On power the low growl is an intoxicating sound.
The 8-speed automatic transmission works relatively well. Left to its own devices, upshifts are quick, but even in Sport+ it’s not willing to downshift on its own. You’ll want to use the steering-wheel mounted paddles to get the most out of the transmission. Thankfully, both shift lights and an audible beep exist to keep you from bouncing off the limiter.
While I’m not sure how much performance a carbon fiber roof can add to a car that’s already as heavy as it is (though it does lower the center of gravity), the torque-vectoring rear differential works as advertised. When cornering it sends more power to the outside rear wheel to help it steer. The faster you go around the corner, the easier it is to corner. Mechanical, computer-controlled torque vectoring is a wonderful thing.
I even quite like the looks of this car. I’m completely sold on the front grille and edgy styling. Plus, the Molten Orange with the black carbon bits really does look the business. That’s important for a car with two doors; you’re making a statement with it.
Side Note: Go with the $1,160 Triple Beam LED Headlights. Even though they don’t have cornering functionality, they’re the brightest headlights I think I’ve ever experienced in a car in recent memory.
I’m not a fan of the Lexus Enform infotainment in this car, which uses a trackpad for control. But I’ve already ranted about that here, so I won’t bore you with it again. In a car like this, though, it’s the least of my concerns.
What I think holds this sports coupe back from being truly great is the personality at low speeds, or lack thereof. Cruising around town the car looks fantastic, but the exhaust note is hardly audible and it somehow doesn’t feel quite special enough. When you are driving at full-boil on a twisty back road, I love it. But when I’m running to the store for groceries, I’m not as enamored by it. In a car like a Challenger Hellcat, or any of the obnoxious coupes, it’s a sense of occasion to drive everywhere. In the Lexus, it didn’t feel like it as much.
Overall, I really enjoyed my short time with the RC F and definitely prefer it — the and on-throttle noise — over the other luxury sports coupes. It’s one of the best Lexus vehicles I have ever driven. I can’t wait to drive the upcoming LC because I have a feeling that car will be injected with the specialness that I feel is lacking a bit in the RC F and make for a heck of a machine.
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