In 2007, it launched the 423-horsepower IS F sedan, followed by the coup de grace, the V10-powered LFA supercar in 2010. Now Lexus has entered the arena of high-performance sports coupes with the 2015 RC F, aiming to challenge the likes of Audi RS5, the Mercedes C 63 AMG and the BMW M4.
Walking up to this RC F for the first time, it’s easy to see this car isn’t your daddy’s Lexus. There is a strong ferocity about its design with the aggressive front, the huge spindle grille, the split headlamps similar to the IS 350, the muscular fenders, the functional vents, the coupe profile, the wide and lower stance, tall rear deck and many more. The RC F rides on staggered 19-inch wheels and is finished in a coat of orange that is quite unlike anything the brand is known for, particularly the impeccably shiny yet immeasurably boring hues.
Open the door and the RC F’s interior just envelopes the driver and passengers in premium leather, composites and other up-class materials. There is actually space for four inside, all with sculpted seats embossed with the proud F on the headrests.
Settling into the driver’s seat is a treat in itself. The F steering wheel is thick to the grip, giving its driver a feeling he or she is ready to attack the road. The same goes for the feel of the paddle shifters, the gear stick and the steel pedals.
Being a top-spec luxury coupe, there are the usual controls like the buttons for the dual climate control system, the excellent 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, the seat heaters and coolers, the heat function for the wheel, a knob/button for the drive mode selector, a variety of other stalks and even a new touch pad to control many of the above, and more. Yes, if you’re a “control freak,” this may just be the car for you.
With a push of a button, the Lexus RC F elicits a low growl. Underneath that aluminum hood is a new 5.0-liter V8 that makes 477 PS and 530 Nm of torque. The engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox that sends power to the rear wheels.
The RC F is actually easy to drive around the city on the daily grind. It’s surprisingly comfortable, quiet, smooth, clears the large speed bumps common in villages and is relatively efficient for a V8, registering 5.9 kilometers to the liter in moderate traffic (24 kilometers per hour average speed). Yes, it can also do grocery runs even though its spare tire eats up plenty of trunk space. But that’s not what we really want to do with a 477-PS super coupe.
With the Sport+ mode engaged on the drive selector, push the gas pedal to the metal and you’ll hear the rumble turn to a roar. That’s the electronic intake note generator at work, making sure you can hear the guttural growl of the V8 your right foot just prodded. The force of acceleration on full throttle is incredible, squatting the rear of the car and propelling the RC F forward. Lexus says the RC F can launch from a standstill to 100 kph in 4.5 seconds; the best I could muster was 4.9 seconds. That will have to do, unless I want to replace the expensive rear tires to prove it. The active rear wing also deploys at around 80 kph and top speed is quoted at 270 kph. It would be nice to have a long runway or a dedicated test track to test the performance limit of the RC F.
On a challenging mountain road, the RC F delivers incredible performance, showcasing the attention Lexus’ skunkworks paid to tuning the car to thrill on circuits like the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany and the Fuji Speedway in Japan.
Dive on the brakes and the huge calipers and slotted rotors will work overtime to slow the car down for a corner. Do keep in mind that this is a relatively heavy performance car, so care must be taken to feed the steering into the corner, hold the throttle, then rocket out using the massive surge of power from the V8. Personally I found the 8-speed gearbox to not be as intuitive as its Bavarian counterparts on a mountain pass, but it’s great if you’re using the paddle shifters.
After a high speed run up the mountain, there truly is greatness in the RC F. Cars with more than 400 horsepower can be very scary in the mountains, yet this RC F always seemed confident with its grip, brakes and precise steering.
Overall, the RC F delivers as promised and certainly ranks right up there with the RS5, C 63 and M4 . . . or M3, if you’re still resistant to the new numbers. The real winning deal with the RC F, however, is the pricing by Lexus Manila. Thanks to the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, Lexus Manila was able to price the RC F at P5.868 million, much less than its German rivals.