The 2020 Lexus RC F strikes a pleasing chord among the sporty variations of luxury coupes. It sports eye-catching and handsome styling, a thunderous V8 bellow, plenty of grunt and power, everyday drivability and a lower entry price than some of its competition.
However, it is a bit slower than some of its competition, the exterior styling, though certainly rousing, isn’t for everyone, its transmission can be slow to respond to direct input and the infotainment system controls are burdensome.
Still, RC F is a solid player in its field.
The F, the sport-tuned version of Lexus’ small RC coupe, gets some significant updates for 2020. Horsepower and torque have been slightly increased while weight has been reduced. Launch control is now standard and styling changes have been made to the fascia.
Lexus is now also offering an RC F Track Edition that features sporty upgrades and further performance tuning. But until one graces my driveway, we will stick with the “regular” F.
The 5-liter V8 now offers 472 horsepower and 395 lb.-ft. of torque. With no turbo to spool, the naturally aspirated V8 puts a gob of grunt to the pavement and makes its way quickly to the horizon.
There are faster ways of getting from 0-60 — the Lexus’ competition from the BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C 63 coupe will do it faster — but the RC F still manages the feat in 4.4 seconds.
And what a soundtrack it makes.
The V8 lets off a low growl cruising around town, but a heavy push on the right pedal and drivers, and anyone nearby, is rewarded with a howl akin to a heavy metal guitarist conducting a symphony. It’s a sophisticated sound but one with a smack of aggression.
Through the bendy bits, the F adheres itself to the pavement with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S providing loads of grip. On a winding backroad, the Lexus stayed well composed in sweeping bends, quick corners and two hairpins in quick succession. There was a slight tinge of understeer, but not to the point it seemed like it would be an issue on anything other than a track.
The ventilated Brembo brakes — 15-inches in the front and 13.6-inches in the rear — have serious stopping power even with the RC F’s 4,000-pound curb weight.
Driving the F — with its gobs of power, fantastic V8 bellow and loads of grip — is a smile-inducing affair, but there are downsides to its performance.
Though sporty driving modes firm up the steering, the Lexus needed more than a few mid-corner corrections as if the feel was lost when needed the most. The 8-speed automatic transmission is smooth and smart around town, and in sport mode, but there was a discernable pause between gear changes when using the paddle shifters.
Then again, buyers could take those drawbacks on compromise because the RC F is perfectly suitable as a daily driver.
The interior is attractive with luxury appointments, and buttons, knobs and the like all have a well-constructed heft. The sport seats are sharp looking, surprisingly comfortable and are well-bolstered. Unlike most bolstered seats, though, the F’s are easy to get into without smacking your head on an A-pillar.
The F’s composure through corners has not sacrificed ride quality for the daily commute. Some harsher bumps will be felt by those in the cabin, but road imperfections are smoothed out, and the Lexus certainly has a comfortable ride overall. That’s not to say it has the same velvety ride of other Lexus products, but given its sport-centric tuning, the RC F’s silky ride is certainly notable.
Passenger space is agreeable for those in the front seats but headroom could be cramped for those who are taller. And for the moms and dads who don’t want to part with a sporty coupe, you can get a rear-facing child seat in the RC F, barely. The rear seats are more for storage than people, however. The trunk offers 10.1-cubic feet of cargo space.
All RC F models come with NuLuxe synthetic leather seats (10-way adjustable for the driver), a digital multi-information display in the gauge cluster, a 10-speaker sound system and plenty of “F” badging on the interior. A Mark Levinson audio package is also available that includes a 17-speaker surround system.
On the outside, all models get 19-inch aluminum wheels, LED lighting, and dual stainless steel exhaust tips that are stacked and offset for an eye-catching look. You also have a selection of eight colors, including Caviar. Because what screams luxury like a car sporting the color of fish roe.
A 7-inch infotainment screen is standard but adding the Navigation Package expands the display to 10.3-inches. The RC F is still burdened with Lexus’ touchpad controller, which, as I’ve said before, is difficult to use and requires drivers take their eyes off the road, not something you want with nearly 500 horses under the hood.
A 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot is standard, as are Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay connectivity, but Android Auto users get no love.
All models get Lexus’ Safety System+ which includes automatic emergency braking, radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, blind spot monitoring and other features.
Buyers can also add on heated/ventilated seats, heated steering wheel and have their roof interior trim and spoiler decked out in carbon fiber.
With a starting price of $65,925, the RC F presents significant savings over the Mercedes-AMG C 63 or Audi RS5, and it’s about 4 grand cheaper than the BMW M4. However, some features, like heated seats, genuine leather seating, carbon fiber interior trim and memory driver seat, are standard in the Lexus’ competition but optional extras on the RC F. Balancing the equation, the F gets far more standard active driving and safety features.
Overall, the RC F is a well-rounded luxury sport coupe. It stirs the soul with plenty of power, dramatic styling and a V8 symphony. And while it may be down on pure speed and performance among its rivals, it is well-appointed and comfortable enough for daily needs.
It also has an agreeable starting price so buyers can afford some caviar to match their RC F’s color.