Harnessing brute firepower with luxury and finesse
Blending brute force with high-end luxury is an interesting mix.
Yet Australians can’t get enough of opulent fast cars. Good reason then that Lexus offers the RC F.
Old-school V8 muscle combined with the finest of finishes. It’s like eating a kebab with a knife and fork.
For about $150,000 drive-away it sits among elite German company which includes the likes of BMW’s spectacular M3/M4 pairing, Audi’s barnstorming RS5 and the chest-thumping Mercedes-AMG C63.
While wearing the Lexus sporting ‘F’ designation, that doesn’t mean a complimentary kidney belt and a neck brace to survive a bone-jarring ride. Not at all.
Lexus prides itself on longevity, reliability and comfort. That comes standard, with a whole lot of bent eight fun thrown into the mix.
Those wanting a more hardcore version can opt for the Track Edition with carbon fibre roof and bonnet as well as a big rear wing — which costs an extra $30k.
The standard RC F maintains all the magnificence expected in the price range. The cabin is ensconced with leather and glass fibre finishes, while the long features list includes power operated sports front seats embossed with the ‘F’ symbol and possess heating and cooling functionality, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, sports pedals and digital driver display.
Different alloys and a sunroof cost an extra $5300. Brembo ceramic brakes, carbon fibre finishes and a titanium exhaust tail pipe adds an eye-watering $30,913.
Infotainment maintains the infamous Lexus touchpad, but the 10.3-inch colour screen has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto improves usability and it’s hooked up to a pumping 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.
Colour options are white, silver, black, red and blue. Inside and there are white, black and red combinations all with silver glass fibre.
Among the benefits is complimentary membership of the new three-year Lexus Encore Platinum program, that means a free loan car when getting a service as well as access to a Lexus of choice on four occasions, up to eight days each. That means you could swap the RC F for a seven-seater RX to take the extended family away.
Valet parking at some metro shopping centres is also available, along with making use of those loan cars interstate with airport valet pick-up an option.
Capped price servicing is available for three years, and it’s $595 per maintenance visit with intervals annual or every 15,000km.
Lexus warranty coverage is four years, 12 months less than Mercedes-Benz and Range Rover, but that is also one year more than BMW or Audi.
Given the low volume of sales, there are is no official crash ranking from Australia’s safety authority, but it ticks all the primary boxes in terms of the latest tech.
Functionality including autonomous emergency braking which can apply the anchors if the driver fails to act, steering assist if the coupe begins to wander from its lane, high beam headlights which dim automatically for oncoming traffic and rear cross traffic alert which warns of other vehicles when reversing are all standard.
Little is sacrificed for the performance attributes. Often there are trade-offs for performance, not in the RC F.
The driver’s seat slides rearward and the steering wheel sinks into the dash to enable easier entry and exit — and then moves back into position once you’re behind the wheel.
While the sports seats are supportive, they’re supple and not uncomfortable like some raw-edged coupes.
Functionality within the cabin has some drawbacks, including limited storage allocations. There are dual cup-holders in the console and in the back, but phones, keys and other gear has to be stored in the console and the door slots have limited capacity.
Criticisms of the touchpad system are well documented, and nothing has changed. Using the hands free systems via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto improve functionality as trying to drive and use the mouse-style operation is too distracting.
The touch sensitive aircon controls are cool … you just slide your finger up or down and the temperature follows.
For a coupe there is surprising boot space, enough to rival a small hatch. Rear seat accommodation for two is also not bad, those in the front just need to be mindful of not shifting too far back.
There are 2.0-litre (180kW) and 3.6-litre (232kW) versions of the RC, but the big-banger bent eight is one for those wanting some serious grunt.
Soulful and a rare thing nowadays, the V8 is an endangered species as manufacturers look aim to achieve stricter emission targets (although this one is Euro 6b compliant).
Happy to rev and offering linear power delivery, the hulking heart rumbles to life from start-up and can propel the RC F from standstill to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds using the launch control function.
Rear-wheel drive offers a beautifully balanced feel behind the wheel, and the eight-speed automatic provides well-timed changes. When using the dash rotary dial you can select Sport or Sport+ which increases driver willingness to take control and use the steering wheel paddle shifters.
Michelin Sport rubber provides the grip, and despite weighing more than 1700kg the RC F doesn’t feel as portly as the figures dictate.
Easy to drive quickly without any effort, the experience is restrained performance. Easy to park and steer, it’s a sports car for those who don’t like to get their hands dirty … and we’d love to hear more from that glorious V8 which remains muted.
You will be familiar with petrol station locations as the donk likes a drink. Our experience saw it slurp more than 13 litres for every 100km, and that included some longer easy highway travels.
Lexus is among the world’s best for reliability, I want extravagance and lusty performance that I can trust.
That throbbing V8 gets the bloody pumping and I don’t need a workout behind the wheel.
BMW M440i XDRIVE ABOUT $140,000 D/A
While the new M4 is coming, this all-wheel drive coupe will be here in October powered by a 3.0-litre TwinPower turbo good for 285kW/500Nm and the same sprint time as the RC F. There is also always the current M4 that generates 331kW/550Nm, but add about $40k to the price.
MERCEDES-AMG C63S $187,080 D/A
Pure unadulterated magnificence. Powered by a4.0-litre V8 with twin turbochargers hammering out 375kW and 700Nm. Probably the best interpretation of a modern muscle car, 100km/h in about four seconds.
Lexus has harnessed power and brutality and covered it in cashmere. It’s the performance coupe for those with deep pockets who don’t want to sacrifice ride quality.
AT A GLANCE
LEXUS RC F
PRICE $149,300 drive-away (price of power)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 4yrs unlimited km w’ty (OK); $1785 3 yrs (good)
ENGINE 5.0-litre 351kW/530Nm V8 RWD (yeah baby)
SAFETY 8 airbags, rear cross traffic alert, AEB, radar cruise, lane departure warning
THIRST 11.1 L/100km (13.2 on test)
SPARE Repair kit (not great)
BOOT 366 litres (impressive)