2021 Lexus RC-F 2-Dr Coupe Review by David Colman +VIDEO
An eminently exquisite automobile
By David Colman
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Call it the velvet hammer. This ruthlessly efficient tool has been fine tuned to devour challenging roads at warp speed. Despite its ferocious looks, however, the RC-F is equally capable of sublime transport to less demanding destinations, a calling it performs with impeccable grace. In view of this dual personality, $90,705 seems quite reasonable for a limousine-slick Lexus capable of showing its tail lights to a pack of Porsches, BMWs and Lamborghinis at any race track you might care to tackle. If you think that's overstating the case, just look at the results from IMSA's 2020 GT Daytona championship, a demanding 10 race series that saw the Lexus RC-F take 4 wins - to 2 for BMW and Acura, and just 1 for Porsche and Lamborghini. Granted, the Lexus fielded by Indycar Champ Jimmy Vasser is a highly evolved version of the street legal RC-F, but both vehicles are propagated from the same gene pool.
What makes this coupe great is its front mounted 5 liter V8 motor that accounts for the car's stunningly long hood. This exquisite piece of engineering churns out 472hp and 395lb.-ft. of torque which it transmits to an 8-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission. From there, the power flows to the rear wheels through a Torsen limited slip differential (LSD) that equalizes torque flow according to which rear wheel offers better grip. When you're launching a car with this much power - a feat you can perform with the standard Launch Control - the Torsen LSD's lateral torque allocation provides a significant traction advantage. Lexus has further insured the contact patch between the V8 and the road surface remains optimal by installing - on optional $1,500 forged BBS alloys - a set of staggered size Michelin Pilot Sport 4S radials (255/35R19 front, 275/35R19 rear) designed to withstand the tire shredding propensity of that honking V8.
With 8 gear ratios on offer, there is never an excuse for having too little passing pop on tap here. Even if you're lazy enough to just plunk the gearbox into Drive and depend on your right foot alone for power when needed, the RC-F will most assuredly get the job done right now. But if you enjoy keeping this 32 valve twin cam motor on full boil for some serious back road work, you'll want to take a couple of proactive measures to maximize your enjoyment of the experience. First, grab the console shifter's lovely perforated leather knob and snick it into the manual (left side) gate. Then locate the large console- top knob that controls drive mode. Turn it clockwise three times until you select the "Sport+" setting. Now you'll feel like you're ready to win the Rolex24 at Daytona. In Sport+, the engine burbles a little more authoritatively, the steering rack tightens response at the fat rimmed leather wheel, and the suspension tuning undergoes a recalculation as the shocks stiffen on jounce and rebound. Now find yourself a nice piece of deserted backroad pavement. I found mine before the sun came up on Coast Route 1.
Huge Brembo sourced disc brakes (14.9 inches with 6 pistons up front/13.5 inches with 4 pistons rear) take care of this car's extravagant acceleration. The RC-F stops the clock on a 0-60mph run at 4.0 seconds, and on a race track, will top 170mph. In keeping with its phenomenal performance envelope, our test Lexus sported an $11,400 optional Carbon Package that made the coupe sparkle like a black diamond. Inside the cabin, the Carbon Fiber flourishes highlighted door and dash trim. But the major impact of the finery showed in the full carbon weave roof panel, carbon front splitter, full length carbon rocker panel splitters, intricate four recess rear diffuser, and carbon rear wing which elevates automatically at freeway speed. Without being the least bit gaudy, the RC-F 's carbon treatment enhances this coupe's already exotic shape in ways that tickle your soul. It looks especially sharp playing off the Flare Yellow ($595) paint job that really makes this coup shine. Just remember, however, that if you knick any of those splitters on a curb, you'll be facing some shockingly expensive replacement charges at your Lexus dealer.
Simply put, the RC-F is an eminently affordable dream ride. With its modest base price of $65,875, it's substantially less expensive than much of the competition from BMW and Porsche, to say nothing of Lamborghini. If you tag that base sticker price with every delectable option featured on our test car ($2,725 for Navigation with Mark Levinson Audio, $11,400 for the Carbon Package, and $4,825 for the Premium Package of luxury assets), you'll still have a prime piece of transportation for well under a hundred grand.
2021 LEXUS RC-F 2-DR COUPE
ENGINE: 5.0 liter V8, DOHC, 32 Valves with Dual VVT-i
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 16MPG City/24MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $90,705
HYPES: Sensational Performance, Stellar Luxury
GRIPES: Rear Wiper Should Be Standard, High Beam Headlight Cut-Off Too Angled
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10