Having a 2-door luxury sports coupe for Thanksgiving can give anyone a lot to be thankful for. Especially when the coupe in question is the 2017 Lexus RC F, a V8-powered Japanese GT car with some serious attitude beneath its sleek and professional exterior. I had two weeks to get well-acquainted with this car. Compared to the last Lexus vehicle I tested, the IS 200t, the ‘F’ was the other end of the spectrum.
INTERIOR: This was the first car I drove having carbon fiber, suede, and leather enveloping the interior. Thanks to a $3,240 premium interior option, everywhere you touch supplies a different texture. The RC F is a higher trim level than the standard Lexus RC 350. That means you get F-sport NuLuxe trimmed sports bucket seats with F-sport embossed headrests.
I took this car on several long distance trips, requiring me to stop for power naps. The sport bucket seats may look like they belong in a race car, but every time I woke up I had to remind myself that I was inside a car and not in bed. The rear seats aren’t just for show, as people can actually sit comfortably and not feel like a sardine. The ride may be a little bumpy, since this is a performance car and those rear seats are almost on top of the rear axles.
Lexus’ infotainment center is still clumsy and not very pretty to look at. The touchpad feels like a laptop, which make you want to use it like one, but it can also be pushed down – which throws you off. This means that it can be distracting when you are first getting used to it. I would much rather have a dial for a cursor…or old-fashioned buttons. The large dial next to it controls the drive modes and differential settings, aka the fun dial.
The best feature, in my opinion, was how silent the Lexus interior is on the road. It was quiet enough to meditate (although we don’t recommend while driving), and allows you to enjoy the rumbling exhaust note from the 5.0 V8 directly in front of you.
EXTERIOR: The color is named Caviar, which I got a kick out of, and looks black at first glance but is actually a dark metallic shade of grey. Matched with hand-polished 19-inch alloy wheels and the red F-sport interior, it looks outstanding. The Lexus RC F has more than one good side and I caught people giving it double takes when I drove it on the street.
This test car had a $5,500 performance option that included a carbon fiber roof, speed active carbon fiber rear wing, and a torque-vectoring rear differential. The TVD splits power between both rear wheels and is smart enough to know which wheel needs more power to keep you on the road, or on the track. The TVD gives you two settings, Slalom and Track, and will stay in Standard for normal driving.
The carbon fiber may not be everybody’s taste, but it does give the RC F an extra performance look to it, a reminder that this isn’t just another soft luxury GT coupe. I wanted to hate it but found myself admiring it before getting inside.
Performance and Specs: Lexus offers several engine options for the RC. The entry-level coupe offers a turbo 4-cylinder engine, while higher trim levels get a choice between two different V6 engines with the option of AWD. The Lexus RC F, however, is the bad boy, receiving naturally-aspirated 5.0 liter V8 with 467 horsepower! Rear wheel drive and an 8-speed transmission means this is a Japanese muscle car. We think it’s a shame no manual transmissions are offered, because the gear lever is right where you would want it.
It drives as good as it looks. It won’t intimidate when it’s idling but put your foot in it and the 5.0 will perform a baritone solo that will make you reconsider lifting off the gas pedal. Keep a close eye on that digital speedometer in the center of the dash because the RC F accelerates from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds and sprints into triple digits faster than you can say, “Wow this thing can move!” Six-piston brakes in the front and four pistons in the rear will bring the stampede to a halt.
You get four different drive modes in the RC F:
- Normal: Self-explanatory.
- Eco: Power output and throttle response are moderated to give you the most MPG’s.
- Sport S: Faster gear changes to maximize acceleration and performance.
- Sport S+: Stiffens the suspension and steering response.
Moving between drive modes changes the dash lighting and provides a digital outline of the RC F, highlighting which components are being altered depending on the setting. Each mode is noticeable and you can hear a subtle difference in exhaust notes; as you go ‘up’ in the setting the volume goes ‘up’ in the exhaust.
I averaged 23 MPG over my two weeks with the RC F, not bad for an almost 4,000-pound car with a V8. It only takes premium fuel and gets an estimated 330-mile range off its 17-gallon fuel tank, so you may become friends with your neighborhood gas station attendants if you have long commutes.
Pricing for the Lexus RCF starts at $64,165 but performance packages add up. The test vehicle shown has an MSRP of $81,019.
Final Thoughts: Overall, the 2017 Lexus RC F is a great performance car. It will make you giggle and terrify you at the same time. The 5.0 V8 is responsive to your right foot and will give you all it’s got if you tell it to. This is a driver’s car, so take care if you decide to switch off traction control. The trunk opening is narrow so you will struggle to get a golf bag inside. Also, the glovebox is surprisingly small. I’m amazed the owner’s manual fits.
When people asked how much this test car costs they felt it was overpriced, and if you consider the number of vehicle options with more horsepower for your dollar it is easy to see why. Nevertheless, the 2017 Lexus RC F delivers performance, style, luxury, comfort, and is very capable of good old-fashion hooning. I like it!