2017 Lexus RC F Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
June 23, 2017

Buying tip

The RC F's torque-vectoring rear differential really helps the RC F rotate, but you won't need it for strictly street duty.

The 2017 Lexus RC F has the V-8 power and dynamic ability to handle a road course, but it need to drop a few pounds to match its best rivals.

The Lexus RC F doesn't have a high-performance sheen built up over decades. Rivals like the BMW M4 have considerable laurels to rest on, in that regard. But the RC F comes the closest yet of any Lexus to nailing the elusive German recipe for track and street two-door performance.

Competition for the RC F includes the vaunted BMW M4 (formerly the M3 coupe and convertible), as well as the Audi S5, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG coupe, and Cadillac ATS-V coupe.

The RC F was released for 2015 and 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.

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We rate the RC F a 6.8, giving it points for its sleek design, engaging handling, powerful engine, and supportive front seats. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The standard Lexus RC is covered separately.

Styling and performance

The RC F has its roots in Lexus coupes like the old SC lineup, and the more recent IS convertibles, but the two-door hardtop is one of the brand's more handsome designs. It's traditional in its outline, dramatic in its details, and rendered more sinister than the base RC coupes thanks to a mesh hourglass grille composed of a thousand tiny letter Fs. (Look closely, and you'll see it's like an Escher drawing.) Finned vents and stacked exhaust outlets add to the aggression, and the speed-activated wing that deploys at 50 mph actually aids performance. The design owes as much to those ancestors as it does to the Toyota 86 (formerly Scion FR-S) sports coupe.

The RC F's cockpit design is along the same horizontal lines as the current generation of Lexus cars, with some adventurous lines and textures and a few fumbles, like the odd stagger of the center stack and the stuck-on appearance of the Remote Touch controller.

The hardware and firmware are upgraded over the standard RC models into the big leagues. The RC F comes with a standard Torsen limited-slip differential, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, and reprogrammed stability control with a track-god "all-off" mode.

The rear-wheel-drive RC F has a suspension composed of wishbones front and rear, with coil springs, new solenoid-activated adaptive dampers, and ball-jointed stabilizer bars. The stabilizer bars, bushings, and lower control arms are upgraded from the RC 350, and so are the 19-inch wheels and Brembo brakes (15 inches in front, 13.6 inches at the rear). The RC F's electric steering rack conforms to the multiple modes offered on the RC 350 F Sport.

The RC F punches into a happy, composed demeanor on the track. It's not quite the equal of a BMW M4, but it's in the conversation.

There's one option that might sound like a must-have, but our editors are split on its appeal. An optional performance package adds a torque-vectoring differential, which is standard in the GS F. Its electric motors control clutch packs that can shift up to 100 percent of the power to an outside wheel, based on steering and yaw sensor input, all to get the RC F around a corner in tighter fashion. The differential has three modes of operation: Standard, Slalom or Track. Slalom is more like an autocross mode, with lots of darty output, but Track mode's a cleaner interface for hard and fast driving. It can certainly help the RC F rotate through tighter corners.

Still, it adds another 70 pounds to the hefty RC F—and the Torsen differential does a fine job of managing the rear wheels as it is. The Lexus coupe feels settled, with good steering build-up making up for a lack of feedback. The Torsen limited-slip setup maintains so much control over the rear end, the lure of steering by your right foot with the torque-vectoring differential isn't as strong, especially since it exaggerates the RC F's less manic body control. The RC F is a very good companion for big fast tracks, but the latest M4 is a truly great one, though it too feels digital and imperfect on tightly composed road courses.

Rated at 467 horsepower, the RC F's 5.0-liter V-8 can toss the RC F to 60 mph in about 4.4 seconds, and the top speed hits 170 mph. That's at least a half-second slower than Germany's two-doors, mostly because the RC F carries a few extra hundred pounds around—not because it's only offered with a paddle-shifted, 8-speed automatic.

That automatic has Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes, and in Manual mode it holds gears in second through eighth gears, even at redline, and cuts shift times.

Fuel economy is predictably punished by the RC F's V-8. According to the EPA, the RC F manages just 16 mpg city, 25 highway, 19 combined, which is on-par with other performance models.

Interior, Safety, and Features

The RC F gives up nothing in the way of Lexus-style passenger comfort. It's spacious for two, and the stitching in the front buckets is said to mimic human muscles. If they do, they're linebacker-grade. The seats are wide and supple, with ample support for a big range of body sizes and shapes. The back seats barely hold medium-sized passengers, and in the interest of body stiffness, they don't fold to expand access to the trunk.

A rearview camera is standard, and the RC F can be fitted with a forward-collision warning system with automatic emergency braking, as well as blind-spot monitors. There's no NHTSA data, but the IIHS gives the RC coupes a "Good" rating in every category, including the tough small-overlap frontal test. They also gets an "Advanced" rating for front crash prevention and earn the Top Safety Pick+ honor.

The RC F is priced from the mid-$60,000s, and comes standard with Bluetooth, USB ports, satellite radio, automatic climate control, and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Prices climb to near $70,000 with big options like a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system with Harman's Clari-Fi sound-restoring coding, ventilated seats, blind-spot monitors, and navigation.

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