Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Don Cheng
Click here for the Chinese (中文) review.
Look familiar? It should – we tested a Lexus RC350 AWD a few weeks ago in this exact same colour. Though I would have preferred a different shade, say, Solar Flare, who am I to complain? We have an RC F at our disposal for heaven’s sake. This is the third F-series model from Lexus but don’t look foolish enough to mix it up with their F Sport packages. Think of F Sport as the S-line or M Sport from Audi and BMW, it’s a performance upgrade of a conventional luxury cruiser. The RC F on the other hand competes in the upper echelons inhabited by the M4 and RS5. And to clear the air, F stands for Fuji Speedway (not what you were thinking of), the chief test track in Japan used for all of Lexus’ performance vehicles - the Japanese don’t relish in profanity.
The RC F is heavily based on the RC 350 but comes without all-wheel drive or those awkward hair comb rear fenders. Instead we have sharper lines and a raised whale hood to accommodate an extensive V8 engine. The RC F keeps the same wheelbase as the RC 350 but is longer, wider, and sits lower. It also receives larger front inlets, signature quad exhausts, a front hood scoop and flared fender grills that make it stand out like a Japanese Gundam on it’s way to the office. Razor sharp looks and a busy front end gives it a unique kind of curb appeal, and it’s certainly not one that will appease all Lexus fans. Yet, you can tell that the engineers tried to inject some sort of LFA supercar inspiration into the vehicle. Point proven as there’s even a speed-activated rear spoiler adopted from the LFA that will automatically rise above 80 km/h.
Sadly, natural aspiration (an engine without turbos or superchargers) has become a dying breed of performance engines; just take a quick look at the competition. The BMW M4 went turbo, and so did the Mercedes-AMG C63 and Cadillac ATS-V. Not Lexus though, and that’s what makes the RC F so attractive over its sporty rivals. It’s stuck in the last hurrah of gas guzzling high-pitched eight-cylinder rocketships. Under the hood of the RC F is an upgraded version of the IS F’s 5.0-litre V8 with a larger throttle body, new heads with titanium valves, and lighter connecting roads (the upcoming Lexus GS F will also use this motor). The result is 51 more horsepower than the IS F for a total of 467 hp. The engine mapping has also been revised so that power arrives earlier and the redline stretches even higher, up to 7,300 rpm. Peak horsepower comes at 7,100 rpm so you’re going to have to rev real high to squeeze out all that V8 juice. Not that you’d mind, because the higher that needle moves, the better it sounds.
That screaming V8 resonates like a toned down LFA but it doesn’t harbour those low deep bellows found in American and German V8s. Instead, Lexus utilizes a feature called Active Sound Control that optimizes engine sounds and pipes in more exhaust noise into the cabin. Call it brainwashing, but I just can’t get enough of those vocals. Hammer the throttle and once you’ve roughly passed 4,000 rpm, the induction noise will change and the exhausts will get even throatier. Holy smokes. Think of it like a VTEC kicking in but with double the cylinders and with legions of horsepower. You’ll never want that needle to hit below 4,000 ever again. The RC F genuinely makes all the right noises in all the right places.
Steam isn’t lost anywhere in its rev-range either: just flick the paddles, change gears, redline, and do it all over again. Never has the thought of rinsing and repeating sounded so good. The RC F is also incredibly unique in the way it uses power. During low revs (below 3,000 rpm) and at cruising speeds, the V8 uses an Atkinson cycle to keep the car from sipping too much fuel, and will switch to an Otto cycle at higher revs (above 6,000 rpm) to draw more power. If you don’t know the difference between those two cycles, don’t panic. All this means is that the engine will change how it fires to accommodate either fuel-efficiency or performance.
Yeah, people will talk about the RC F’s colossal weight and how it’s a Frankenstein model mixed and mashed together from the Lexus LEGO parts bin, but I think all the fuss is unnecessary. Truthfully, in day-to-day driving you won’t feel it's 1,795 kg curb weight, which is 194 kg more than an M4. It's quite a staggering weight difference whether you'd like to admit it or not, but the chassis is incredibly rigid, the suspension is well-tuned for comfort, and body roll is almost negligible.
On the track it’s a different story, but that’s only a small percentage of RC F owners. No doubt, the RC F feels heavy when you’re zipping around corners at high speeds. The front nose is heavy and the back lags behind you, but that’s only when you push it hard. Around town or during lighting cruising, the RC F actually feels like a perfectly weighted vehicle. It’s not light, but it feels stiff, durable, and solid.
Those massive Brembo brakes are also much better than the ones on the RC350. They’re more sensitive and manipulative to input, and the pedal has less travel. In fact the brakes are so good that you won’t even feel that extra weight being flung forward. So there’s no need to groan. The casual driver won’t feel the muffin top belly. Just don’t let your track-fiend friend take the wheel. As a matter of fact, the best part about the RC F isn’t the sound, but it’s how accessible the performance is. With all those electronic nannies guiding and watching your six, novices will feel like a pro behind the wheel. There’s a sense of confidence and satisfaction with the RC F, making it incredibly easy to just hop in and go fast.
Having eight cylinders doesn’t exactly make the RC F fuel-efficient, but thanks to a smart transmission and the way the engine swaps between Atkinson and Otto cycles, we averaged fuel consumption numbers that are only a bit higher than the BMW M4. Over the week we got 14.6 L/100km with an equal mix of city and highway driving. A week’s worth of premium 91-octane gasoline set us back around $80.
Make your way into the RC F and you’ll be greeted with tall racing bucket seats that look like an organic exoskeleton wrapped in tight leather and skin-like stitching. They’re one of the best looking seats in my opinion, trumping the ones in the BMW M4 and Audi RS5. But when it comes to comfort, the M4 is the winner here. With the RC F, you can’t adjust the side bolsters and the headrest can’t be adjusted because it’s integrated into the seat. The heated and cooled seat functions don’t work as well as they should either. On a hot summer’s day I turned on the ventilated seats, but I could barely feel the fans penetrating the back of my shirt.
The rest of the cockpit, including the raised dashboard and sloping center stack, are borrowed from other Lexus models such as the NX and IS series. There’s also a little bit of LFA in here - just take a look at that instrument cluster! However, it’s not the same sliding tachometer that you’d find on the F Sport models; this one is the real deal. Switching between Eco, Normal, Sport, and Sport+ mode will net you a differently styled theme that displays gear changes, optimal shift times, spoiler position, a digital speedometer etc. I just don’t get why they placed a redundant analog speedometer on the bottom right of the panel.
I love all the materials used in the RC F: the armrest and headliner are all wrapped in Alcantara, and the door panels and dashboard are caressed with the softest leathers. The touch-sensitive trackpad also made its way into the RC F, and after spending more than a few weeks getting used to the interface and learning the works, I’m still finding it difficult and cumbersome to use. It’s hard to navigate precisely using the square pad, especially in the midst of driving. Patience and a surgical touch is more than required here. It’s a neat gimmick but I think rotary knobs and touchscreens are still the bread and butter winners.
Choosing between a Japanese Gundam and a German war machine is going to be a difficult task. And unlike our American counterparts, Canadian-spec RC Fs come fully loaded with only the choices of exterior and interior colours and a track-ready performance package. South of the border, they can have their RC F as bare bone stock and add on performance and comfort options separately. That’s consequently the reason why the RC F’s starting price is $81,650. Putting that into perspective, the BMW M4 starts a relatively measly $75,000, but a similarly equipped one will cost you north of $90,000. Nevertheless, the M4 comes with many options not available on the RC F: head up display, a dual-clutch transmission, launch control, carbon ceramic brakes, a convertible trim, side bolster seat adjustment, and a larger assortment of interior colours (there’s only black and red available with the RC F).
Either way, I’m perplexingly glad that my bank account isn’t high enough to make these decisions but for those with enough coin, the RC F might just provide you with more thrills and seat-hugging theatrics. The way my passengers have put it: the RC F captures the soul and essence of the BMW M4 and unifies it with the roaring soundtrack of the C63 AMG. That’s one killer compromise, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
型号 Model: 2015 Lexus RC F
顏色 Paint Type: Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 ($650)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $81,650
試車售價 Price as Tested: $82,300
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,730
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,705 / 1,845 / 1,390
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,795
引擎 Engine: 5.0L V8
最大馬力 Horsepower: 467 hp @ 7,100 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 387 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Independent, double-wishbone with forged-aluminum components, coil springs, gas-pressurized electronically controlled shock absorbers and hollow stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Independent, multilink with forged-aluminum components, coil springs, gas-pressurized electronically controlled shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Brembo six-piston monoblock calipers with 14.9-inch slotted and ventilated discs
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Brembo four-piston monoblock calipers with 13.5-inch slotted and ventilated discs
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 15.2 / 9.5 / 12.6
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport - Front: 255/35R19 - Rear: 275/35R19