Lexus RC F will grab piece of performance coupe segment


The Lexus RC F has only been available since 2015, so, it’s competing with Audi, BMW and Porsche entries that have decades of engineering development and consumer performance recognition. The words Lexus and ‘performance coupe’ do not typically resonate as a tandem.

The 2017 Lexus RC F actually does have some performance coupe lineage – remember the ultra-smooth SC 400 coupe? Well, the RC F is one very attractive mid-size coupe. The details make this car. That includes the mesh hourglass grille made up of tiny letter Fs, finned vents, crisped, trimmed ground effects, and integrated exhaust outlets all topped by a very cool speed-activated wing that pops up at 50+ mph.

Propping up the front body contours is a spunky 5.0-liter V8, backed by an 8-speed, paddled-shifted automatic featuring selectable Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes. During my review period I mostly kept it in the Sport+ mode to enjoy the quickest shift and performance feel. The Sport+ mode works for most driving, but eco and normal are best for tight traffic environments. Predictably, the performance mode and weight of the RC F give it 1980’s style gas mileage of about 19 mpg combined city/highway numbers. 

Moving indoors, the RC F’s interior shares a family resemblance to current Lexus cars. Mainly, I liked the bold lines and interior seams in black leather. The center stack seemed like a late design addition and the Remote Touch controller had a “make this fit” look. Tech specs included very bright electroluminescent gauges, great-sounding Mark Levenson premium audio system with 10 speakers and sound leverlizer, back up camera and remote touchpad controller.

The RC F really accentuates passenger comfort (only for two) with premium, heat/ventilated bolstered seats that are indicated (by Lexus) to mimic muscles. Ok, there are rear seats, but they barely hold children. There are enough cup holders and storage spaces to satisfy your refreshments and small tech items. The level of fit finish and optional carbon fiber trim additions are what you would demand in a premium vehicle exceeding $75,000.

As for on the road performance, Lexus makes up for lost time. The RC F features a Torsen limited-slip differential (standard), upgraded 19-inch rubber on hand-polished 20-spoke alloy wheels. As expected, RC F is rear-wheel drive with a wishbone front and rear suspension design, coil springs and revised solenoid-activated adaptive dampers, and revised stabilizer bars. The brakes are by Brembo (15 inches front, 13.6 inches rear), steering is electric and the feedback is dialed-in better than most non-mechanical units.

During aggressive on-road testing the RC F will happily allow you to fling it deep into a corner, but it does snap back quickly. If you jump on the throttle too soon (before you get the car lined up) you could launch yourself into the weeds as the power comes on hard and very fast. I was able to get the RC F to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and better drivers can drop that time. Lexus indicates a top speed of 170 mph.

The 2017 Lexus RC F knocks on the door of established entries, and yes, they have something to be concerned about. Lexus makes a strong play to gain some performance chops and fill a segment they were previously absent from.