The aero-inspired RC-F wears Lexus’ angriest face yet and has the horsepower to back it up, blogs Dan Scanlan.
The “F” stands for Fuji Speedway, where Lexus conducts high-speed testing and development. And with 467 horsepower available, some straight roads became speedways when we let the RC-F howl.
We thought the IS-F was the king of the Fs with its 5-liter V-8’s 416 horsepower, a bellowing basso exhaust note over 3,500-rpm, then 60-mph in 4.8 seconds and 100-mph in 10.8 seconds. Then we checked out the RC-F’s 467 horsepower engine with its bright blue intakes and bracing struts, backed by a close-ratio eight-speed transmission. It just isn’t a lightly reworked IS-F. There are new cylinder heads, higher compression and lighter internal parts, titanium valves, forged connecting rods, an air-cooled oil cooler, new or redesigned cylinder heads and cam covers and more.
The RC-F offers five choices of driving style. ECO dumbs down the throttle, the V-8 running on an Atkinson cycle. It leaves the suspension alone, and driving in this mode let us see about 18-mpg on premium. Set it in NORMAL and you get a bit quicker shifting in the transmission, but the RC-F remains a comfortable quick luxury coupe. Set it in SPORT S, and the shifts speed up as the transmission stays in a lower gear so there’s quicker moves when needed. But set it in SPORT S+, and you get razor sharp shifts, plus quicker downshifts. It automatically downshifts during hard braking for a corner with an audibly enjoyable engine blip and snarl. Then it holds that lower gear through the corner for greater control, and greater power on corner exit. EXPERT mode coordinates powertrain, ABS, steering, traction and stability control systems, allowing us to spin the rears through second gear launch until it all hooks up. Stability control intervenes in EXPERT if the tail starts to spin.
You can let it all hang out in this coupe and it doesn’t hang you out to dry, so good is its grip, feedback and power. On the skidpad, the g-force meter claimed 1.5 Gs as we circled flat, with just a hint of throttle-controllable tail out. That said, its steering isn’t as razor sharp in feedback as some, but that’s OK. With 15-inch diameter slotted front rotors and six-piston calipers, and 13.6-inch ventilated rotors with four-piston calipers, our 3,000-mile-old coupe had precise brake feel and quick initial bite, controllable and capable of fade-free short stops time and time again. We pulled a negative 1.2Gs at full braking from 100 mph!
Lexus radically sportified its formula in 2007 when it unveiled its IS-F sedan, then 553-horsepower V-10 LFA sports. But that was just the start. Lexus opted to do an F coupe. But instead of just planting a fastback two-door body on the IS sedan, engineers started from scratch. The RC’s front section is based on the GS, while the center is the stiff floor section of the IS-C convertible, then the aft end is based on the IS sedan. The result is a very sleek RC coupe with slit headlights, a pointed spindle grill and some neat aero accents. The RC-F is .2 inches wider and .4 inches and .2 inches (5 mm) lower.
High-back bordello-red leather bucket seats with intricate stitching greet you. They were very comfortable and body- hugging, designed for track side support in cornering, Lexus says. Then there was the red-stitched Alcantara suede on armrests and the gauge hood, with real carbon fiber on doors and passenger dashboard.
The eight-speed gear shifter gets blue and white stitching and a machined alloy knob. The next-gen Lexus Remote Touch Interface is a black touchpad. The Mark Levinson 17-speaker/835-watt AM-FM-CD-SiriusXM sound system rocked. There are rear seats with a cool stitched pattern. But the lack of legroom means it’s only for kids. The rear seatback doesn’t fold. And that trunk is small but wide at 10.1-cu.ft.
A base RC-F starts at $62,400. Ours came with the optional paint, a $4,400 package that included heated and ventilated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, triple-beam LED headlights, auto-dim side mirrors, blind spot monitor, back-up camera with rear cross-traffic alert and black carbon fiber interior trim. We also had the $600 red and black leather interior, $2,610 Mark Levinson audio/navigation system, $1,100 moonroof and $1,500 hand-polished 20-spoke alloy wheels. The total cost of our tester - $73,735.
There’s some pretty potent stuff out there as competition, from the $55,000 Chevrolet Corvette, $63,000 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, $64,000 Porsche Cayman S and yes, even the $99,000 Jaguar F-Type R and $102,000 Nissan GT-R. All are pretty quick cars; some sprinting to 60 mph in approximately four seconds!
The bottom line: the RC-F is fast, precise and packaged in a wild wedge without the hard edge you’d expect. For more information about the RC-F and the latest models from Lexus, please visit http://www.lexus.com/models