A few years ago now in 2008 Lexus, a brand that built its reputation on building supreme quality luxury sedans, managed to stun the automotive industry by releasing the ISF sedan. Here was a sports sedan that rivalled the BMW M3 and was capable of going ballistic if pushed with superb road manners and quietness. Out of nowhere the sedate brand had a hero car that was simply AWESOME. It shocked almost everyone and quickly became a most desirable ‘Q’ car.
Well have they done it again with the RCF? Launched in early 2015 the RCF embodies the essential elements of a prestige high performance coupe. Stunning looks that promotes discussion, luxurious interior that leaves nothing on the wish list, balanced ride and handling and that beautiful 5.0L V8 engine and yet extremely easy to live with on a day by day basis which is so important. Is it however a true sports coupe or luxurious performance tourer.
The exterior shape does promote discussion, I guess is a personal thing but I happen to like it. There is just enough style and curved lines to give the sports coupe appeal. The front grill is imposing and probably the best view is from the side where the long sleek lines are accentuated. It can appear disjointed with the front grill appearing stuck on as an afterthought.
Step inside and its all Lexus. That means luxury where the design blends into user friendly implementation. Everything simply works with a minor exception which we will discuss later.
The RCF seats are unbelievably comfortable, multi electrically adjustable, air conditioned and with the electrically adjustable small thick rimmed leather steering wheel you can find the perfect drivers position. One slight beef is that taller drivers (190cm and above) will find head space restricted as I kept bumping my head on the sunroof surrounds. Drivers left foot rest is perfectly placed.
The dash layout again is a testament to simple functional design that works and easy to use. Like all good sports cars the tacho is front and centre with speedo to the right and MFD to the left. The centre stack again simple to use but full of features. The screen is a little smaller than I would have expected though. I love the elegant analogue clock. The fit and finish is as you would expect from Lexus and a $140,000+ sports car.
One complaint is the ‘mouse’ touch plate for navigating the functions on the small centre screen. I found it too sensitive to use and was often selecting something other than what I wanted. Some people love it however I am in the bunch of drivers that preferred the previous control system. It seemed to work better for the more clumsy amongst us.
Rear seats are for the vertically challenged (though better than most similar vehicles) and best suited for the overnight bags along with a small but practical boot space. These cars are not about hedonistic pleasure for more than two people. If that is your thing buy the ISF sedan.
The RCF is a tad heavy at 1860kg and while that benefits with smooth ride and handling for the average punter it does tend to dull the performance a touch. The RCF offers the stunning and powerful 5.0L V8 engine which produces 351kW of power @ 7,100rpm and 530Nm of torque @ 4,800rpm. It drives all this power through a eight speed transmission that will propel this hefty coupe from 0-100kmh in 4.5 seconds and top out at an electronically governed 270kmh. That is fast but not superfast.
However switch to sports mode and find some windy roads and the RCF will excite all but the purist of drivers. There is little understeer but the heavy rear end is manageable if let loose. It is affected by rough surfaces and can feel bumpy at times despite its weight. Sports + mode provides another level of fun. That’s the key word here, the RCF is plain and simple fun to drive without feeling that you have to control a beast to extract the best from it.
The Lexus RCF is a little hard to place. It isn’t really an out and out sports coupe nor is it a proper GT. It is however perfectly designed for those drivers who like the extra performance in a stylish coupe that is easy to live with every day and provides just enough thrills when they head to the open road. This is a true luxury coupe with extra performance.
The Lexus RCF has been built with passion for those who enjoy the pleasure of simply driving. At a RDAP of $145,175 the RCF isn’t cheap yet it represents outstanding value with the Lexus core values of excellent value, practicality, effortless styling and trustworthy Lexus reputation. Its main competition though may be the RC 350 F Sport that provides perhaps a better balanced vehicle albeit with less performance but some $50,00 cheaper.