Review: 2016 Lexus RC F

This car just breaks my brain.  It does not make any sense that this orange RC F parked in front of my house came from Lexus.  Built by the producer of staid hybrid sedans and crossovers, under the watchful eye of Toyota, in no way should this car exist in life.  But it does, and it's mostly spectacular.   With a big 5.0 V8, it will take minutes off of your Waze ETA like few other you've driven.

(Full Disclosure: Lexus dropped off this ridiculously orange $70,985 RC F at my house with a full tank of gas and made me promise that I would pay for any citations I received during the loan (moving or otherwise), never park it on the street, notify them of damage, use my seat belt, forgo participation in any competitive events, read the owners manual, stay out of Mexico and Canada, only allow approved drivers, and not smoke in the vehicle.  I immediately parked it on the street and took a nap to rest up for what was to come.)

2016 Lexus RCF in Washington, DC.

Outside

On the outside, the 2016 RC F is nothing if not a big, ridiculous, orange tuner car.   If Toyota had forgone the Lexus face and grafted on some circular taillights, many would have accepted the RC F as the reinvented Supra.  OK, strong statement, Supra purists are a pretty picky bunch, that may or may not be true.  Speaking from my own personal stance (meaning viewpoint, not negative camber) I would have been in the acceptance camp had Toyota launched a 467hp RWD coupe that looked like an RC F with the aforementioned tweaks.  This is all to say that the RC F looks like a high performance Toyota, which it is, so while many say that it’s over styled, that’s sort of what I like about it.

OK, I suppose the bulbous front end isn’t everyone’s favorite, and to be honest it’s the hardest part to defend.  Upon sharing my latest loaner on Facebook, some family members expressed their displeasure with the familiar Lexus maw.   While I like the overall design, the RC F is certainly betrayed by an errant designer’s pen from certain angles.  Specifically if you trace the angle from the windshield as it gradually flows towards the ground, you’ll eventually come across a bit of a “wait what” bump that protrudes skyward before plunging down to the Predator-inspired grill.  It’s a proboscis appended to an otherwise athletic form, but not enough to sour me on the overall design.

2016 Lexus RCF in Washington, DC.

It’s got creases, it’s got scoops, it’s got vents, it’s got a God damn retractable spoiler.  This car is the extrovert incarnate.  Wait, wrong word, maybe discarnate?   Whatever.  It carries over the overall theme of the OG F, the IS F, particularly when viewed from the side.  The deep scoop just aft of the front wheels takes a sharp plunge and pulls up just in time to careen rearward, rising just before meeting another bulging wheel well.   The overall shape represents one of my favorite automotive designs, the long hood (mostly) short rear coupe.  I say mostly because the RC F has some junk in her…well you know the rest.  A sharply raked body line drops (like it’s hot?) behind the rear wheels and yet more car exists beyond that, giving the car a bit of a booty.  Six Lex-a-Lot, your car has arrived.

Generally speaking though, the rear is probably the most sanely sculpted bit of the RC, starting on top with the flat trunk lid that can be augmented quickly by pushing a button to extract the orange spoiler.  Next, the fairly standard Lexus family taillights get what resembles a Lexus L-shaped angles cut into them to looks sportier.  I guess.  The bottom half of the car is mostly lost in a sea of black sporting a similar quad-angled-exhaust configuration to the aforementioned IS F.  Points for sticking with a theme.

2016 Lexus RCF in Washington, DC.

As I drove the car, I could just barely see the bright orange paint peeking out over the top of the dashboard from the giant hood and again on the big wing mirrors on either side.  The paint color alone, “Molten Pearl”, is as ridiculous as the car itself, showing a bit of metallic paint flake.  It’s easily as orange as the Focus RS we just tested is blue.  And that’s ridiculously blue.  I love how incredibly interesting this specific F model is. I found myself staring at it to study the multitude of converging lines.  And don’t expect a lack of stares from others, driving a long hood, stupidly orange, super coupe will get some double takes from pedestrians, other drivers, and dead people.  It’s impossible to miss. I even had the “oh you couldn’t see me, how is that possible” jibe queued up in the unfortunate case someone ran into my pricey loaner.  Luckily the big Brembo brakes (painted orange for another $300) helped ensure that it was returned dent free after a week in DC traffic.  I miss it already.

2016 Lexus RCF center console.

Inside

On the inside it is a pretty much a typical Lexus affair. Great quality materials, and familiar layout.  Which makes it even harder to reconcile in my head that the car I’m sitting in has the previously described exterior.  You get some solid hints that you aren’t in an ES. The contoured and F-emblazoned seats are your first clue.  I’m quite certainly becoming a seat connoisseur, Aside from the steering wheel, it is your biggest connection to the car.  Lexus seats are typically adequate, if not particularly sporty.  Having just spent time with the excellent Recaros in the Focus RS, I was riding a seat high.  The RC F delivers.

2016 Lexus RCF front seat vents

Side bolsters aren’t nearly as high as they are on the RS, and that’s OK.  My wife commented that the Lexus was less likely to give her a Britney-Spears-flashing-the-paparazzi moment than the RS simply because of the smaller side bolster.  However, these Lexus seats still deliver great leg support in lateral maneuvers.  Plus, they did a great job with the overall design, and the tall F-labeled seats (an $800 extra) adjust many, many ways.  If you want them heated and ventilated, you’ll need the Premium Package for $3,240 but also gets you some carbon fiber trim, blind spot monitoring, some sort of parking assist, rain sensing wipers, and some other stuff as described below.

Elsewhere, I found myself starting to dislike the Lexus Enform system’s touch pad.  Any time anything touched it, particularly my cell phone cord, it would start to move the cursor.  Thankfully you actually have to depress the pad to make a selection, but it’s still annoying.  Love the concept, but the implementation left a bit to be desired.  Overall system functionality was fine, not the best or worst system I’ve used.

2016 Lexus RCF rear seats.

Rear seat room was adequate to “pretty solid” and is another way that you are reminded that this is not a small car.  I muscled my toddler’s Recaro into the back, eventually, and managed to haul around some kiddos no worse off for space in the back than a comparable compact sedan.

The Drive

So that brings us to the big question, how’s the drive?  In this case I am referring to how the car performs, not the empire building Time Magazine joint.  Well, I am pretty pragmatic when it comes to comprehending performance, and the ole power-to-weight ratio helps me put things in context.  The big girl weighs in at 3958 lbs., which let’s face it, isn’t light.  That means with you the driver in place, you’ve crested two tons.  But it’s two tons of fun, the big 5.0 L V8 gives you more than enough to get her sideways without much effort, and that’s even with the traction control on!

This is pure GT car, covering vast distances in relative comfort.  This car will easily drop 5 minutes from your Waze ETA without even breaking a sweat.  It dares you to add an extra digit to your speed, and its fancy all-pixel gauge readout will raise its speedo readout faster than your eyes can make out the numbers.  Or maybe it’s just fucking with me and skipping numbers, in which case I feel lied to.  If you feel that 467 horsepower is insufficient, than you, sir or madam, have a problem.  Because it’s pretty damn quick in the RC F.

Without a good track to test this car on, I can only give some anecdotal evidence of on and off ramps, both of which it tackles well.  From a standstill it will spin the rears in more than a couple of gears and honestly I didn’t trust my foot when the wheel was turned at speed.  So smoky drift shots will have to wait until we can get an RC F with a track laid out in front of it.

Competition

While the GS F, which we tested recently, is typically compared to the mighty M5, the F model RC is typically compared to the smaller and cheaper M4.  Which makes sense I suppose, as the two cars are only separated by about $1500 in starting MSRP (the BMW being the higher of the two).  Beyond that, you are comparing two vastly different cars.  Like it’s 4-door compatriot the RC F is about gobbling up miles in comfort vs. turning the fastest time on track.  Although with the power and RWD configuration, plus the RC F’s ability to allow for some rear-end slidey action, it may be more fun than you think.  Still, the more I drove the RC F, the more I assumed it would match up to some sort of $100,000 AMG Mercedes.  But I’m an idiot and apparently it is more closely aligned to the $67,000 Mercedes Benz AMG C63 coupe. 

Bottom line, if you want an extroverted, yet reliable, 2-door coupe with a lot of balls, the RC stacks up well against it’s competition.

2016 Lexus RCF 5.0 V8 engine intake manifold cover.

Summary

Anything with “F” on it used to feel pretty rare and special.  The LFA supercar aside, only the IS F existed in the lineup.  Now, with more models getting F’d, it feels less unique.  A normal part of life I suppose, there are numerous M and AMG models, but still something to lament. Success can breed uniqueness right out of the blood stream.

All that to say, the RC F did feel special, and that’s one part design and one part paint color.  Aside from taxi cabs, not many vehicles around DC are painted bright orange. Those that are typically end up being pretty special, Lambos and such.  Being a bit of an extrovert, I really enjoyed being out and about in the orange Lexus.  And it’s a damn good drive as well, it covers miles extremely well.  It got some looks parked outside of the new Trump International hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, and we know the Prez-elect would like it.

It’s orange!

All that to say, in my current situation—with a wife, three kids, and a couple of dogs—I would probably still buy a GS F over an RC F.  And I would lament the fact that I would be giving up some of that aforementioned specialness that the RC has over the GS.  Function over form, at least for now.

Specifications

Trim: None
Trans: 8-Speed Sport Direct-Shift Transmission with “F” Spec Paddle Shifters
Engine: 467HP 5.0L DOHC V8
Drive: RWD

Exterior: Molten Pearl
Interior: Various

MSRP: $62,805
Delivery, Processing and Handling Fee: $950

Packages & Options

  • Leather Trimmed Seats $800
  • Technology Stuff $1,530
    – Navigation System
    – Backup Camera
    – Remote Touchpad Controller
    – 7″ Multi-Media Display
    – DVD Player
    – Lexus Enform Destinations (1-year subscription included)
    – App Suite
    –  Voice Commands
    –  Lexus Insider (?)
  • Orange Brake Calipers $300
  • Premium Package $3,240
    – Heated/Ventilaed Front Seats with Drivers Seat Memory
    – Carbon Fiber Interior Trim
    – Blind Spot Monitor w/Rear Cross Traffic Alert
    – Intuitive Park Assist
    – Rain-sensing Wipers
    – Auto Dimming Mirrors w/memory reverse tilt
    – Steering memory
  • Moonroof $1,100
  • Trunk Mat, Cargo Net< Wheel Locks & Key Gloves $260

Total MSRP: $70,985

Gallery

2016 Lexus RC F in Washington, DC.

2016 Lexus RC F in Washington, DC.

2016 Lexus RC F in Washington, DC. Photo by Will Byrd and Josh Taylor

2016 Lexus RC F in Washington, DC. Photo by Will Byrd and Josh Taylor

2016 Lexus RC F in Washington, DC.

2016 Lexus RC F in Washington, DC.

2016 Lexus RC F in Washington, DC.

2016 Lexus RC F 5.0 V8 engine intake manifold cover.

2016 Lexus RC F 5.0 V8 engine bay.

2016 Lexus RC F 5.0 V8 engine intake manifold cover.

2016 Lexus RC F rear center console with cup holders and F Sport badge.

2016 Lexus RC F rear seats.

2016 Lexus RC F carbon fiber door trim, lock and unlock button and window switch.

2016 Lexus RC F analog clock on the dash, close up.

2016 Lexus RC F infotainment knob close up.