The Car Connection Lexus RC F Overview
Like the rest of the RC range, the RC F is a relative of the IS sedan lineup. The RC F was new for the 2015 model year. It carried over into the 2016 model year unchanged, but for 2017 it gets standard adaptive dampers and a Scout GPS Link for cars without the navigation system. Scout GPS Link is a smartphone app that displays driving directions on the center screen.
The RC family of two-doors is a spiritual successor—but not linear—to the old SC coupes. The RC comes in V-6 and all-wheel-drive flavors, but as the RC F, it's available only with an ultra-powerful V-8 engine and rear-wheel drive. That makes it a rival for vehicles such as the BMW M4, Cadillac ATS-V, and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. That's some formidable, well-established competition, but the RC F brings a lot of punch to the table.
MORE: Read our 2018 Lexus RC F review
While the base cars come equipped with a choice of turbo-4 and V-6 engines, with rear- or all-wheel drive, the RC F has more horsepower than the vaunted M4. It's powered by a 467-hp V-8 inherited from the last-generation IS F sedan. There's no manual gearbox offered, but the RC F has paddle shift controls to harness its 8-speed automatic.
What that drivetrain brings to the two-door is essentially a "beast mode." Stomp on the throttle and the RC F is good for a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds, a top speed of 170 mph, and a manic, raw V-8 snarl that's absent from all its rivals. It reaches and comes close to the standard set by the ATS-V, AMG, and M4 in terms of high performance and high-speed handling stability—but it's also a hefty car, with nearly 4,000 pounds squishing its wheels to the ground.
The RC's styling carries over mostly intact to the RC F. Its showy spindle grille works better here than on almost any other Lexus, because brash is part of the mission. From the nose rearward, the RC F is graceful, with a handsome flow to the sheet metal, from fenders to tail. Sporty 19-inch alloys fill out the fenders nicely and set a good stance. Inside, the multi-tier cockpit look given to the latest IS and GS looks fresh here, too, with excellent materials, including real wood and leather.
At about 185 inches long, the RC is just slightly longer than the IS sedan and, like that car, it shares a platform with the somewhat larger GS sport sedan, though the midsection is derived from the last IS C and the rear end from the IS sedan. A wheelbase that's several inches shorter gives the proportions a different look than either sedan; it has a more swept-back appearance, with some fairly ostentatious accents—not just for Lexus, but for any brand playing in the segment.
Inside, the RC F is quite comfortable and supportive, with rear seats that can fit full-size adults in a pinch. Like in the latest IS sedan, the interior boasts quality materials that avoid the dark and dreary look of its predecessors, with Lexus recently adding leather outside the black and beige spectrum.
Like most Lexus models, the RC is well-equipped when it comes to safety. The RC has been named an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, as it scores top "Good" ratings in all categories and also carries a sold complement of active safety features. It hasn't yet been tested by the NHTSA. Automatic emergency braking is affordably priced at $500—and it is a stand-alone option on the RC F.
On the tech front, the RC is the first Lexus to offer the brand's latest blind-spot monitors, which can better detect fast-moving vehicles approaching from behind. The Lexus Remote Touch interface has also been updated, now using a touchpad in place of the finicky mouse-like controller that was used previously. Remote Touch is the console-mounted control for things like audio, navigation, and system settings.
Fuel economy is set at 16 mpg city, 25 highway, 19 combined, according to the EPA.