2020 Lexus RC F review (video)

The RC F is Lexus’s attempt at taking it to Mercedes’s AMG and BMW’s M division cars, but at a discounted price. And for 2020 Lexus has jammed in more tech, revised the suspension and powertrain, and refined the driving dynamics to create an even more attractive proposition.

While there is an undeniably hefty price tag attached to the RC F, starting from $134,129 (excluding on-roads), this is significantly less than the M4 or C 63 AMG coupe models. So, with that in mind, what concessions – if any – are you making by stepping into the Japanese offering over its Euro rivals?

2020 Lexus RC F – THE SPECS

Engine: 5.0-litre V8
Output: 351kW@7100rpm / 530Nm@4800-5600rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: Rear-wheel drive, Torsen LSD
Wheels: F: 19×9.0, 255/35  R: 19×10, 275/35
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 1820kg
Power-to-weight: 5.18:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 11.2L/100km
Economy during test: 12.5L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 66L/98 RON

Power efficiency: 31.33kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 2.80 seconds*
0-100km/h: 5.17 seconds*
60-110km/h: 3.35 seconds*
1/8 mile: 9.13 seconds at 138.7km/h*
1/4 mile: 13.44 seconds at 177.0km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.943g
100-0km/h braking: 2.84 seconds at 36.07 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.242g
Decibel at idle: 60*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 90*
Priced from: $133,771

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2020 Lexus RC F – THE PACKAGE

We weren’t particularly moved by the styling of the RC F in pictures, however, in the metal – and in particular this shade of Infrared metallic – it’s got an undeniable presence to it. The long bonnet looks like it’s hiding something special, and the angular styling contrasts with the bends of the wheel arches for a somewhat sleeper-ish sports car aesthetic; by the end of our week with the RCF, Lexus had won us over with this design language.

Dynamic Display Ad(Long Version)

Stepping inside, Lexus has positioned the driver and front passenger nice and low for that sporting feel, and you’re surrounded by undulating weaves of Alcantara, perforated leather, and some splashes of silver carbon fiber on the door sills. The centre console doesn’t really offer up anything that would suggest you’re sitting in an extremely premium offering, but Lexus interior packaging does the job well enough.

We can only really raise small gripes with the RC F’s packaging, namely because it’s a car with a price tag of more than $130,000. Things like the cheap plastic trim filling up gaps between nicely-finished textiles; the extremely sub-par reverse camera (which lacks any overhead view); and the cruise control knob which is the same as many of Toyota’s most basic offerings.

Overall though, the interior offers a mix of comfort and luxury as well as sporting pedigree, all without compromise. The new 10.3-inch infotainment system presents precise graphics with fairly easy menu functionality, but it continues with Lexus’s awkward remote touch pad control. The standard 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system provides all the power you’ll ever need, too.

Up front the adjustable leather seats are incredibly comfortable for sports seats, and the ventilation is a welcomed function. They do well at hugging you in the bends without swallowing up the occupant’s mobility. And despite being labeled sports seats, they do provide great long-distance comfort and help with relaxation.

Right off the bat, we dismissed any chance of fitting anyone larger than a small child in the rear seats. However, we were genuinely surprised to find out a six-foot male can fit behind the front passenger. This is thanks to Lexus’s cleverly-designed seatbacks which cut away around the knees, leaving reasonable legroom. Boot space is stamped at 366L, which isn’t too bad for this class.

2020 Lexus RC F – THE DRIVE

Now, for the main event. To find out how well the RC F handled as GT car we couldn’t help but take it on a little road trip up the NSW coast. And the results were impressive. Leaving the city with the powertrain in eco-mode, the RC F is a powerhouse of easily-accessible torque, and makes the city commute a breeze; it would no doubt prove to be a great companion for the work commute or a road trip, as we were about to discover.

Powered by a 5.0-litre, naturally aspirated V8 engine, the RC F produces 351kW at 7100rpm, and 530Nm between 4800-6600rpm. All of that is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission with a Torsen limited-slip differential. As those statistics might have alluded to, Lexus has created an absolute peach of a powertrain that won’t settle for anything less than being revved-out to the fullest extent if you want the maximum up-and-go.

For the 2020 model Lexus has introduced a new launch control feature. However, our tests couldn’t produce times even close to Lexus’s official 0-100km/h sprint claim of 4.5 seconds. The RC F doesn’t feel as rushed as we would have hoped when accelerating through the gears, but it does offer an extremely solid and linear power delivery.

We timed the 0-100km/h run in a best of 5.17 seconds. This is the slowest time we’ve ever achieved in an RC F, and we’re not quite sure why. It was a warm day, at around 25 degrees during testing. But mostly we find the launch control system to be nothing more than a brake-loading system, which is how we usually test automatic cars anyway. There’s also the fact that it is a weighty machine, especially compared with its nearest rivals. It weighs 1820kg, tare.

In the corners there’s no real sense of urgency in the steering rack, even in sports mode, and when you do get to really push the chassis, the weight does begin to present itself. It is all very predictable, though. And the steering feels very firm and connected. If you’re feeling so inclined, with the traction control off and sports plus engaged, the Torsen limited-slip differential allows the driver to pop the tail out for a controlled drift.

Despite its weight, the RC F can stop on a dime thanks to six-piston front and four-piston rear ventilated Brembo brakes – our tests showed a 100-0km/h distance of just 36.07 metres. These are mounted behind new 19-inch forged alloys, featuring Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres (an upgrade for the 2020 model). It glides around corners very smoothly and with heaps of grip, while the suspension and ride is extremely composed.

On that note, this is definitely a luxury-focused sports car as opposed to a hardcore and razor-sharp busy bee. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, because it is, and can be highly enjoyable to cruise in out in the country and attack some big sweeping bends. The bellowing and barking V8 engine also provides an addictive soundtrack to your journey.

Ironically for a low-slung, 350kW 5.0-litre V8 sports car, the RC F is a great companion for the work commute or a road trip as well – provided you’re not trying to squeeze too many people in the cabin. In eco mode the RC F’s powertrain becomes a wonder of easily-accessible torque. If you stick to eco mode and you’re not overzealous with the throttle, you’ll average just over 11L/100km with some highway driving factored in. It’s closer to the 16L/100km mark around town with stop-start driving. With a 66L tank, you’ll get anywhere from 400-600km from a tank of premium fuel.

2020 Lexus RC F – THE VIDEO

2020 Lexus RC F – THE VERDICT

One prominent thing the RC F has going for it is a powertrain that comes awfully close to that of its German rivals, particularly for sound and refinement. Better still, you’re not making any significant sacrifices in terms of cabin comfort, equipment, or looks when opting for the RC F over one of the Euros.

While its rivals might be overall sharper and more agile, and quicker, we’re not quite sure they justify the difference with their heftier price tags. In that regard, Lexus has created a bonafide classic with the RC F.

PROS:
– V8 soundtrack
– Luxurious and well-built cabin
– Generous equipment as standard (no daunting option list like some rivals)
– Clever driving modes and systems
– More affordable than most key rivals

CONS:
– Thirst
– Long-winded acceleration
– Some cheap trim areas

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

Alexi is a contributing news journalist and junior road tester at Performance Drive. He has a passion and appreciation for the engineering in cars, as well as new technologies that lessen the impact on the environment. His dream cars are an M3 to drive to work, and a LaFerrari for the weekend.