The Lexus RC F is already starting to become old news. When Lexus first debuted this car at the Detroit Auto Show last year, many people were very excited and had hoped that this new Lexus could strike BMW M and Mercedes AMG in the heart. What stood out most of all was the engine. With a 5.0 liter V8, the RC F showed Lexus’ desire to stick with natural aspiration as opposed to the forced induction of the Germans.
This car seemed like it was going to a big middle finger to BMW, Merc and Audi, and that Lexus was going to beat them by doing things its own way.
Turns out, though, that Lexus seems to have missed the mark. To start off on the wrong foot is an understatement for the RC F. If you want to take on thoroughbreds like the M4 and C63 AMG, you better bring your best. So when Lexus was designing the RC F, did they create a new, bespoke chassis and engine? No, instead they made a Frankenstein chassis out of bits of the GS and IS chassis and brought over the same 5.0 liter V8, albeit a revised version, from the IS F, which is already about eight years old. Making a car out of leftovers is not a smart way to take on the industries best.
Another issue the RC F has, is weight. Checking in at over 4,000 lbs on the scale, the RC F is easily the heaviest car in its class. For comparison, the RC F is about 400 lbs heavier than the equivalent M4, which tips the scales at 3,615 lbs with the DCT transmission. That’s a lot of extra weight to throw around, especially considering the M4 has almost 20 lb-ft more torque and its peak arrives 2,950 rpm sooner. The RC F might have a hp advantage, with 467, but the M4’s turbocharged engine makes the most out of its 425 and rockets the M4 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, compared to the 4.3 it takes the Lexus. All of that weight makes a big difference.
All of this would be fine if the Lexus was this tail-out hooligan of a car that wanted to roast its rear tires to bits at the slightest prob of the throttle. But it isn’t. It actually understeers too much, according to most journalists who’ve driven it.
How is that possible?
The RC F wanted to challenge the best from Germany by giving us a raw, unapologetic, naturally-aspirated V8 with a clever rear differential. Everyone knew that the Germans would be the faster car, as they are using ultra-modern technology. But when Lexus first showed us the RC F, we all thought that it would battle the M4 and C63 with character and old-school hooliganism. But it doesn’t, it falls flat on its pinched-grilled face.
Admittedly, the RC F does shine in one area — everyday driving. It’s a bit more comfy than the M4 and a bit more civilized for everyday, real world driving. But is that the reason you buy a rear-wheel drive sports car with a 5.0 liter V8 under the hood? No, you buy a car like that to bring out the inner child in you.
British journalist, Chris Harris, just released his video review of the RC F and it’s the one I’ve been waiting for to finally make my judgement on the car. Only he can truly explore the levels of hooliganism a car can reach. Yet he seemed underwhelmed by the RC F. I shared the same sentiments as he did; we both wanted the car to be great, but are both left feeling disappointed. When seeing it up on the stand at the NY International Auto Show, last year, I so badly wanted this car to be a fun, Japanese alternative to the serious, Germans. But it isn’t, not even a little bit. Instead it’s even safer and far less exciting. It disappoints me that the RC F is the last sports car in the segment to represent natural-aspiration, as it doesn’t do the NA engine justice.
What a missed opportunity by Lexus.