It's a niche product for those with some extra disposable income, desiring a track-ready, ultra-inspiring coupe: the Lexus RC with the high-performance F suffix.
It's not unusual or uncommon for upmarket, luxury automakers to proudly promote lower volume, highly tweaked performance off shoots from its stable of 'conventional' offerings. These aspirational vehicles play well in targeted buff books and online.
Mercedes Benz offers 'AMG,' BMW 'M' and Cadillac 'V.' Lexus is the latest luxury brand to join this prestigious letterman's club, with its "F" performance sub set. All, of course, add premium stipends for the privilege of purchasing these higher-octane play toys.
Currently two 2017 Lexus models don the F performance suffix and added performance, the mid-size GS sedan and RC, a relatively new mid-sized coupe. The two "F-badged" vehicles represent the most powerful V-8 performance cars ever developed by Toyota's luxury division. Mechanically, the 2017 RC F is largely a carryover from last year with upcoming 2018 largely staying the course. The "F" in RC-F denotes Fuji Speedway, where Lexus conducts much of its high-speed development.
The two F performance models should not be confused with other Lexus offerings with optional "F Sport" accessories and components. In the Lexus lexicon, "F" performance models and "F Sport" accessories represent two distinct marketing opportunities and price points.
The conventional, low-stance, wide-body RC coupe boasts a dedicated ultra-stiff platform uniquely engineered and balanced combining suspension characteristics borrowed from Lexus' mid-size GS sedan. Consider the A-pillar forward borrowed from the GS with the rear portion based on the latest-generation IS sport sedan. Large, somewhat weighty RC side door openings get their mojo from the low-volume IS convertible.
The non-F, conventional RC offers three powertrain selections and the choice of all-wheel drive or rear drive. The RC Turbo features a 2.0-liter, in-line turbocharged engine delivering 240 horsepower. Select the RC 300 and move up to a V-6 producing 255 horses. The RC 350 squeezes 306 horses from a 3.5-liter V-6.
By contrast, the rear-wheel drive-exclusive, rather hefty (4,000 pounds) RC F delivers a top track speed of 170 miles per hour with a zero-to-sixty speed in a tidy time of 4.4 seconds; this all thanks to a 5.0-liter, 32-valve V8 delivering 467 horses. It mates to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. Traditional manual transmission is not offered, but the finger-operated steering column paddle shifters (providing manual shift opportunities sans a foot clutch) perform better than just about any tested, holding gears long into tachometer red line indicators for optimal get up and go.
The automatic transmission offers four driving modes summoned by a circular dial right of the floor-mounted shifter: Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport +. Each, when selected, summons unique graphics to the circular, animated speedometer located front and center inside the busy yet informative instrument panel.
Our RC F tester started at $64,165. Lexus added on most available options including $1,500 for larger, 19-inch alloy wheels with 20 spokes (new for 2017), $1,160 for triple beam LED headlights, $800 for upgraded leather seats, $2,550 for in-dash navigation with upgraded stereo, $5,500 for carbon fiber roof and trunk lid, $3,240 premium package, $500 radar cruise control and $449 illuminated door sills adding up to a healthy $80,839 with $975 destination charge.
This coupe has four seating positions, including two rather cozy back seats with static windows on the outboard side.
Up front, drivers enjoy a cockpit feel with low-to-the-ground soft yet remarkably supportive bucket seats (10-way power driver's seat, eight-way power passenger seat). Both include power lumbar support. Electronic push-button start is located relatively high on the dashboard, and easy to reach without blockage from the turn signal stalk. A distinctive luxury appointment: a circular analog clock centering the multi-layered and stepped dashboard. Posh interior cues borrow heavily from the IS four-door sport sedan, a great template from which to clone.
Deep set within the center top dash, a multi-function seven-inch non-touch information screen including the back-up camera feed. Our tester included an optional, touch-sensitive flat square pad between front bucket seats to interact with the screen. The quad-sectioned pad took some practice to master, as gentle finger gyrations control an on-screen curser with a press-down finger action needed to make a selection.
Conveniently, Lexus also includes secondary steering wheel audio controls and old-school volume/station pre-set knobs within reach of drivers to manually manage volume and selections.
Another RS F option; torque-vectoring deferential (TVD), distributing rear-wheel torque during cornering. As the vehicle turns a corner, torque is gradually transferred from the inner to the outer wheel.
Exterior wise, the RC F channels a low, menacing stance not dissimilar to American muscle cars in their late 1960s, early 1970s heyday. Except this one's built in Japan.
A fun extra is a deck lid carbon-fiber spoiler, activated when RC gets up to cruising speeds exceeding 50 miles per hour. A blue-framed "F" logo signifying the F performance brand adorns both fenders near vertical and narrow scalloped brake vents and along the trunk lid. A new exterior color for 2017: Caviar.
Also adding to exterior posh are quad exhausts (a pair on each lower side) adding to the throaty low-tone growl from the V-8. Lexus' prominent spindle grille resembles a truncated hourglass, protruding out in a nose-like fashion with black mesh-like honeycomb filling . Narrow A and C pillars form an arch with chrome trim framing the windows. Towards the C pillar in the corner of static rear windows, chrome framing thickens in arrow head fashion, adding a visual nuance.
The side character line gets bolder when approaching the rear end, creating a larger crease and accenting the three-dimensional tail light housing bulging out.
Fuel economy for the eight cylinder checks in at a rather poultry 16 mpg city and 25 highway, requiring 91 high-octane fuel, but "F" shoppers probably prioritize performance over all else.
2017 Lexus RC F
At a Glance
Price as tested: $80,839
Engine: 5.0-liter, 32-valve V-8
Wheelbase: 105.7 inches
Overall Length: 184.8 inches
Overall Width: 72.4 inches
Overall Height: 54.9 inches
Fuel economy: 16 mpg/25 mpg
Powertrain Warranty: 72-month 70,000 miles
Curb weight: 3,952 pounds
Assembly: Tahara, Aichi, Japan