2018 Lexus RC F Coupé Review

Lexus RC F Coupé - IS IT A GRAND TOURER OR SPORTS COUPE

Lexus RC F Coupé Overview

Having driven the Lexus RC F coupe for a week, I am finding it a little hard to directly place where it sits. Launched in early 2015 and updated in 2016, the RC F embodies the essential elements of a prestige high performance coupe.

Some would say it has stunning looks that promotes discussion, a luxurious interior that leaves nothing on the wish list, balanced ride and handling and that beautiful 5.0L V8 engine.

Lexus has built a number of sports cars around the base of the RC F, taking on Pikes Peak and running a RC F GT3 endurance version. We last reviewed the RC F in May 2015 and relished the opportunity to revisit the coupe for a road test.

However the RC F is extremely easy to live with on a day by day basis which is so important. I have to mention one of my all-time favourite cars is the Lexus IS F. A car that was capable of going ballistic if requested, but so easy to drive around town. Well, have they done it again with the RC F?

Although it is getting a little long in the tooth in terms of life cycle, the question remains though – Is it a true sports coupe or luxurious performance grand tourer?

Lexus RC F SIDE

Lexus RC F Coupé Exterior

The Lexus RC F 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 coupé 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. It does however house the triple-stack LED Headlights, Daytime Running Lights (DRLs). Adding to the well-lit scenario are illuminated Door Handles with Puddle Lights,

Lexus RC F badge

From the side it appears well proportioned, with the sleek coupé style, air scoops around the front wheel arches that scallop all the way to the rear wheels and the sloping rear roof line with boot spoiler built in. The ‘F’ badge sits behind the front wheel arches. Both front and rear wheel arches are muscular.

The whole visual appeal is dramatically enhanced by the stunning forged aluminium 19 inch wheels with differential tyres – Michelin Pilot Supersport 255/35R19 front and 275/35R19 rear.

From the rear the RC F has a busy design, prominently featuring the 4 exhaust tail pipes. There is an aerodynamic package that includes a four-link active rear wing, a direct technical flow-down from the Lexus LFA supercar. Rear brake lights have a subtle swooping ‘L’ design. The boot lid is tiny.

Overall the external style is a mixture. There is nothing subtle about it, yet it has subtle visual appeal. In the week I had the RC F I had a number of people approach me. The majority loved the design and one enthusiast even stopped and took pictures when it was parked in the front driveway.

The design is slightly polarising, yet I actually really like it.

Lexus RC F interior

Lexus RC F Coupé Interior

Once you cross the threshold the RC F is 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.

However let’s digress for a moment and discuss the logistics on entry and exit for an older driver with a dodgy right knee. The RC F sits low, obviously. While the doors open wide, I found myself doing the old man entry. Bum first and swing the legs in after.

The difficulty is the high side bolsters that can provide unwanted placement if you’re not careful.  This entry method is comfortable, but embarrassing. Exit is again swing the legs out and leverage yourself up using the door and ‘B pillar.

The issue here is that as mentioned the RC F doors are quite wide and if you are in a tight car spot it can be quite cramped.

Lexus RC F front seats

The RC F 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. The comfort level allows quite long stints at the wheel without feeling tired or sore.

Tick one for the long distance GT scenario.

One slight beef is that taller drivers (190cm and above) will find head space restricted as I kept bumping my head on the moonroof surrounds. Those that sit their sunglasses on their head will also bump them constantly.

However, even with the closeness of the sides and roof, at no time did I feel cramped or restricted. The driver’s left foot rest is perfectly placed. Overall driver ergonomics are excellent.

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. RC F’s analogue speedometer has an unusual built-in welcome sequence.

Lexus RC F steering wheel

When the driver climbs into the seat and shuts the door, the speedometer flashes in a way that evokes a heartbeat.

RC F’s exclusive digital instrument panel was inspired by the Lexus LFA, which pioneered the thin film transistor (TFT) digital meter technology for Lexus before its use in other F and F Sport models.

RC F features a large central TFT tachometer, an analogue speedometer to the right, and a TFT multi information display (MID) screen to the left.

Drive Mode Select modes of NORMAL, ECO, SPORT S and SPORT S+ show information, including the G-force monitor and Torque Distribution Display, in different configurations to suit their respective driving priorities.

The centre stack again, simple to use, but full of features. I love the elegant analogue clock.

Overall visibility is better than expected. Forward visibility is good over the bonnet. Thick ‘B’ pillars, usually right at head alignment, prevent much over the shoulder glances and the rear window is small but definitely better than similar styles. Thankfully there is a high resolution reversing and surround camera system

Rear seats are for the vertically challenged (read useless really) and best suited for the overnight bags along with a small but practical boot space. The limitation on the boot space is not only volume, but the size of the entry. It’s small at 362L and allows only smaller bags to fit, but you can fit quite a few of them. There is a Ski port though for more convenience.

The placement of the ‘B’ pillar also prevents any sort of easy access to the rear seats, even for luggage. If I had any say in the design, I would recommend to ditch the rear seats and make the boot a hatch.

This would be more practical and closer aligned to the ultimate user profile I would imagine. These cars are not about hedonistic pleasure for more than two people. If that is your thing buy the GS F sedan.

The fit and finish is as you would expect from Lexus and a $140,000+ sports car.

Lexus RC F front

Lexus RC F Coupé Features

What is so good about Lexus vehicles is that they include so much as standard items and have an almost non-existent options list. More the occasional enhancement package.

In line with this the RC F is jammed packed with features, way too many to list here, so we will chat about a few key ones.

The infotainment system includes the 10.3″ Multimedia screen with Lexus Remote Touch-pad Controller. The screen and system are all good enough though at times finding the screen to do what you want can be difficult. There is still no Apple Car Play nor Android Auto, which is disappointing.

However, one complaint is the ‘mouse’ touch plate for navigating the functions on the 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 clumsier amongst us.

Even the humble Mazda CX-5 has a more user friendly system of navigating through the various functions.

Lexus includes a 17 Speaker 835W Mark Levinson® DVD Audio with Signal Doctor. In short it’s superb.

As mentioned the V8 burble harks back to earlier driving days when the thumping of a heavy V8 was music to the ears. With the Acceleration Sound Control (ASC). Lexus at least lets the driver have an audible delight.

There are the expected features such as dual zone climate A/C with touch sensitive controls, tilt and slide Moonroof, rain sensing wipers and auto headlights, electro chromatic rear view mirrors both internally and externally, multimedia voice controls etc.

Lexus RC F 5.0-litre V8 engine

Lexus RC F Coupé Engine and Drivetrain

Let’s get to the ballsy stuff.

The RC F 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 RC F offers the stunning and powerful 5.0L V8 engine which produces 351kW of power @ 7,100rpm and 530Nm of torque @ 4,800rpm – 5,600rpm.

It drives all this power through an eight speed SPDS Automatic Transmission with Sequential and Paddle Shift availability.  The RC F features – Drive Mode Select – ECO, NORMAL, SPORT S, SPORT S+ and CUSTOM, which allows customisation of the drive mode depending on the road surface and drivers mood.

All this will propel this hefty Coupé from 0-100kmh in 4.5 seconds and top out at an electronically governed 270kmh. That is fast but not superfast.

As you might expect, with all this power and a heavy right foot, the around town fuel economy in the real world can be hefty, especially drinking premium fuel. We experienced around 17-18l/100k.

If, like me, you delight in the V8 tuned burble, this will go higher at times. However, on the freeway, on cruise control, this dropped down to around 7.5-8l/100k. The ADR figure is a combined 10.9l/100k. The RC F does however, have a small fuel tank at 66L, which means that you will be a regular at your local garage.

Lexus RC F driving

Lexus RC F Coupé – What is it like to Drive?

Here we again revisit the question of where the RC F sits. It’s not an outright sports car. It is fast as mentioned and has variable transmission selection to allow driver input, but it also retains comfort and compliability to cocoon the occupants in comfort, rather than bone jarring sport mode like some competitors.

Around town the RC F is an easy daily cruiser, with a little style. It’s just so easy to putter along without fuss. The V8 gives a hint of what lies within reach, but is happy and not temperamental at all.

However switch to one of the SPORT modes and find some windy roads and the RC F will excite all but the purist of drivers. There is little understeer when pushed hard, but the heavy rear end is manageable if let loose. For most drivers it provides and engaging experience that excites.

As important as how fast will it go, is how fast will it slow or stop, and the Brembo performance brake package effectively takes care of that aspect.

Lexus has double wishbone front suspension and multi-link Rear Suspension. Mid corner bumps and road irregularities are soaked up by the driver-selectable Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). Lexus AVS system electronically monitors and controls the damping force at all four wheels simultaneously, based on road-surface conditions and driver preferences.

It’s actually quite a clever system and works unobtrusively, but you definitely feel it in improved ride and handling. Using a range of sensors – including G force, yaw-rate and speed sensors – Lexus AVS is designed to improve ride comfort and handling stability, particularly on rough roads, while also providing greater stability when cornering.

Lexus has complemented the increased suspension control AVS offers by linking it with both the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) safety technology and Drive Mode Select control.

In ECO, NORMAL, and SPORT S modes, the Drive Mode Select system prioritises ride comfort while contributing to greater handling stability, based on driving operations and the road surface conditions.

In SPORT S+ mode, the focus of the damping-force control is handling stability.

In addition, the SPORT S+ mode automatically switches the powertrain, electric power-assisted steering and VDIM to Sport mode.

The RC F is responsive to driver input through both the right foot and steering input. Power is linear in its delivery, again to allow maximum driver control. In short again, it’s easy to drive fast.

SPORT S+ mode provides another level of fun. That’s the key word here.

The RC F is fun to drive without you having to control a beast to extract the best from it.

Lexus RC F driving

Lexus RC F Coupé Safety

Lexus RC F doesn’t have an official ANCAP safety rating. But this is because the expense of testing low volume vehicles is prohibitive. Suffice to say, that like all Lexus vehicles, the RC F is extremely safe. There are an abundance of both active and passive safety features including:

  • Reversing Camera with Rear Guide Assist (RGA),
  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA),
  • Pre-Collision Safety System (PCS) with Pre-Collision Braking (PCB),
  • PCS includes Pedestrian Detection,
  • Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist (LDW+),
  • Radar Active Cruise Control (ACC),
  • Automatic High Beam (AHB),
  • Anti-lock Brakes (ABS),
  • ABS with Vertical G Sensor,
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA),
  • Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRC),
  • Hill-start Assist Control (HAC)
  • Brembo Performance Brake Package with Orange Calipers,
  • Eight SRS Airbags,
  • Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) ,
  • Self-dimming Interior Mirror,
  • Tyre Pressure Warning System,
  • Clearance and Reversing Sonar (6-head),
  • Anti-theft Siren (with Back-up Battery) plus Intrusion SensorEmergency Flashing Brake Lights

Lexus RC F Coupé Conclusion

The Lexus RC F is a little hard to place. It isn’t really an out and out sports Coupé nor is it a proper GT.  It is however perfectly designed for those drivers who like the extra performance in a stylish Coupé 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 Coupé with extra performance.

The Lexus RC F has been built with passion for those who enjoy the pleasure of simply driving. At a RDAP of $148,771 the RC F isn’t cheap yet it represents pretty good value.

Lexus prides itself on core values like excellent value, practicality, effortless driving, sophisticated 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 $50,000 cheaper.

For me though I would buy the Lexus RC F over the RC 350 F Sport, over the Lexus LC 500 C, over the BMW M3 Coupé and would consider the Audi S5 Coupé or Audi RS5, but it is some $20,000 more expensive. You can count out the Mercedes Benz equivalent as they are just too dam ugly.

To me there is just something I really like about the Lexus RC F Coupé.

Lexus RC F rear

What’s Good:

  • Luxury features
  • Style and comfort
  • V8 power

What’s Not so Good:

  • Useless rear seats
  • Lexus ‘mouse’ controls
  • Difficult entry and exit

 Model – Lexus RC F Coupé

  • Model Price $148,771 RDAP
  • Engine 5L V8 Petrol
  • Drivetrain 8 Sp AT RWD
  • Power        351kW @ 7,100rpm
  • Torque 530Nm @4,800 – 5,600rpm
  • Safety              TBA
  • CO2        TBAg/km
  • Economy ADR 9L/100 km
  • Servicing Capped Price
  • 0-100KMH 5 Seconds
  • Top Speed 270kmh (governed)
  • Warranty 4 Yrs / 100,000 km 4 Yrs Roadside Assist

Overall Rating:   83/100

  • Behind the Wheel 9
  • Comfort 9
  • Equipment                9
  • Performance              8
  • Ride & Handling 8
  • Practicality                  7
  • Fit for Purpose 9
  • Street Cred 8
  • Style              8
  • Value for Money 8
About Rob Fraser 202 Articles
Rob Fraser – General dogsbody & Director Rob is the founder of the business. Coming from a Financial services background, where everyone drives a prestige car, he has a unique perspective on the market segment.He has owned a number of prestige cars himself amongst the way too many cars he has owned in his time. Having previously lived at the top of corporate life he retired in 2000 and hasn’t put a suit and tie on since. Cars are his passion so why not have a business doing what you love he figures.The Prestige Car Guide eventuated from a continual demand from Rob’s strong ties to the financial services world and the advice he still provides to prospective buyers