by Adam Lynton
While it may not strictly be what Lexus had in mind when naming the RC, "Radical Coupe" is exactly what the RC is meant to exemplify for the Lexus RC F as a pinnacle performance model for the brand. But with a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds, the 2019 Lexus RC F doesn't really provide such radical performance, with class rivals such as the 2019 BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C63 all delivering sub-four-second 0-60 mph times. Nevertheless, there's a character to the RC F of great appeal and enjoyment, with a booming 467-horsepower V8 engine under the hood, rear-wheel drive, and striking looks. It offers a lower cost of entry into the luxury sport coupe arena and delivers the luxury and refinement expected from anything bearing the Lexus badge. Unfortunately, Lexus continues to utilize its arduous Remote Touch Interface and ignores the inclusion of appreciable modern connectivity tech. So then, is the RC F a genuine M4 rival, or is it radically soft in comparison?
The 2019 Lexus RC F is still part of the first generation and receives only mild adjustments and additional optional tweaks for 2019. The original chrome lug nuts have been changed to black and a Tenth Anniversary Special Edition Package has been added to the optional packages list which is available for 240 vehicles for the US market only. It is included to celebrate the tenth anniversary of "F" performance and accoutres the RC F with bespoke interior and exterior styling. Other adjustments include revisions to the suspension tuning and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa functionality.
For 2019, prospective buyers can expect a starting MSRP of $64,750 for the Lexus RC F, that's excluding tax, registration, and licensing fees, and Lexus' delivery, processing, and handling fee of $995. Independent dealerships may offer dealer-specific incentives. At its price point, the Lexus RC F offers decent value for money, it's competitively priced within the market, undercutting key rivals by around $5,000.
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5.0L V8 Gas
The RC F may not be a sterling contender performance-wise, but it does manage to deliver to a good balance between a luxurious ride and sporty levels of engagement, more so than rivals that favor handling over comfort. On flat well-kept roads, the RC F remains smooth and settled and handles respectfully around turns and with maneuvering around traffic. Even over some broken pavement, there's a sense of refinement that competitors lack, particularly up to about eight-tenths of its potential. However, road imperfections and undulations have a tendency to upset the RC F considerably when attacking corners at speed, and the heavy body elicits a sense of heaving mid-corner when encountering sudden changes of camber. The tail end can be somewhat loose around sharp turns taken at speed, which might find favor with drivers who enjoy such antics but isn't quite so endearing for those looking for easy speed. The Torsen limited-slip rear differential and F-Adaptive Variable Suspension seem to have benefitted the RC F with improved ride quality overall but haven't enhanced handling dynamics at the limit.
Steering in the RC F is adequately weighted and sharply responsive but could do with some fine-tuning for better precision. The steering wheel proves inept at communicating road feel and tire position which can be unsettling at higher speeds. Brake feel, however, is fairly impressive, although pedal input is light and takes some getting used to, which results in initially jerky braking. The Brembo stoppers are strong though and provide consistent stopping power and inspire confidence, only running out of efficacy after prolonged track usage where the RC F's weight results in overuse.
Luxury sports coupes are marketed to deliver a competent balance between luxury and performance without compromising the key aspects of either. In the case of the RC F, it delivers ample performance but lends towards comfort more than outright dynamism. Against the traditional segment rivals, it's too soft, too heavy, and simply not talented enough to stand out. But it does have a place, and when viewed more as a grand tourer, the RC F suddenly makes sense. With excellent build-quality and upscale interior, along with a comfortable ride quality, the RC F is more of a junior Lexus LC 500 than it is an M4 rival. However, it's worth noting it lacks practicality with a small trunk and limited internal storage, while the infotainment system remains a bone of contention. Rivals also offer more features, with heated and ventilated seats and a range of other conveniences absent from the RC F.
As the only RC F trim available, Lexus makes the decision for you. But we would recommend opting for a couple of packages, like the Mark Levinson sound upgrade, and the stylish carbon fiber upgrades from the Performance Package. If you're lucky enough to get your hands on a 10th Anniversary Edition, that would be the ideal pick, as it's not only exclusive but looks great inside and out.
The 2019 BMW M4 is well worth the extra $4,100 over the RC F, with superior high-performance capabilities while compromising little in the way of comfort. The BMW M4 is equipped with a turbocharged three-liter inline-six engine which develops 42 hp less than the RC F but 17 lb-ft more torque. With less weight to carry, the M4 is half a second quicker to 0-60 mph than the RC F and handles better too. It's more intuitive to drive and feels more occupant-oriented too, with more space inside, more cargo space, and a higher level of standard specification. Tech-wise the M4 also proves favorable, featuring a larger center display with a more intuitive infotainment system and superior sound system. The M4 offers a far more athletic drive and has an inclination toward outright performance, even though the soundtrack may not quite be as exciting as the RC F's burly V8. In this segment, buyers aren't looking for a GT car, which is why the M4 comes out trumps.
At around $27,550 more than the RC F the 2019 Lexus LC 500 offers a better balance between high-performance and luxury along with a finer range of superior features as standard - as you'd expect it to. It's equipped with the same V8 engine but is dialed-up to develop an extra four hp and an extra nine lb-ft, however, proves slower with more mass to move. But as a true grand tourer, the LC 500 offers almost half the trunk space capacity offered in the already limited 10.1 cu-ft of space in the RC F, in-cabin storage is even more limited and functionally impractical. As Lexus vehicles, the LC and RC share the same unintuitive infotainment system and the awkward controls and functional limitations. The LC is more refined overall and is a better performance vehicle when attacking a twisty road, but it's expensive, and the RC F gives you that GT feel with more practicality and a friendlier price, making it our pick of the two for daily use.
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