2019 Lexus RC F Review: An Excellent Japanese GT Car

The Lexus RC F is the Japanese Challenger to its German competition that should not be overlooked.

The Lexus RC F on paper sounds like a bit of a wild child. It has a raucous 5.0-liter V8, sends power the rear wheels, is loud, and has a sporty and seriously aggressive exterior. It’s designed to compete with the BMW M4 Coupe and the Mercedes AMG C63 Coupe.

Those cars are a couple of crazy machines. The RC F feels like much less of a hooligan, which surprised me. Lexus let me borrow an RC F for a week, and right away I was pleased and impressed with how it handled itself on the road.

Powerful, Smooth, and Refined

On the road, the RC F is downright gentlemanly. The car’s V8 comes to life with a throaty roar but then settles into a quieter level of noise at idle and in regular driving. You can hear the V8 doing its thing, but it’s only when you switch it into Sport S or Sport S+ mode that you really notice the intoxicating sound of the engine.

The engine is wicked powerful, putting out 467 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque. It moves the rather hefty RC F (the car has a curb weight of about 3,900 pounds) with ease. The RC F is good for about a four and a half second 0-60 time. On a racetrack, the car would top out at 168. The M4 and C63 are arguably better track cars, but the RC F would certainly hold its own. Unfortunately, I was without a track to test this theory.

On the road, the car is very pleasant to drive. The ride is smooth, though a little stiff, and there’s plenty of power for any situation you could get yourself into. The steering feels tight and precise and you can put the car exactly where you want it. Lexus has done an impressive job making a very sporty 2+2 coupe suitable for everyday driving.

Well-Built With a Frustrating Technology

Lexus is known for its quality and reliability. While I obviously can’t speak to the long term reliability of the car, it sure feels like it will last a long time. There’s a solidity to the high-quality interior materials that is lacking from many other vehicles with a luxury badge.

The M4 and C63 are high-quality machines without a doubt, but if I were a betting man, I’d place my money on the RC F lasting longer. It’d also cost a lot less to maintain and repair its German competition.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 15: Lexus shows off the 2020 RC F Track Edition at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) at the Cobo Center on January 15, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. The show is open to the public from January 19-27. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The sport seats in the RC F are comfortable, but the passenger seat comes with the lack of lumbar adjustment, at least it did in my tester. The driver’s side has it. On a couple of hours long road trip, my passenger was unimpressed with the level of comfort from the seats. If the front passenger seat had adjustable lumbar, there would have been no complaints.

The rear seats don’t offer much in the way of space. Legroom is tight and so is headroom. The same can be said for any sporty coupe, though, so this isn’t much of a surprise. Honestly, I found the rear seats to be pretty good for the class.

The thing that bothered me most about this car was the infotainment system. Lexus is determined to stick with its touchpad infotainment controller, which is a mistake. It takes far too much attention to use, and you’ll find yourself opting instead for the little dash-mounted buttons. However, you can’t use them for everything, so the touchpad will annoy you at some point.

The good thing about the RC F’s infotainment system is that the company added Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa to its capabilities. This is a well-equipped system. It’s just hard to use.

A Worthy Challenger to the Germans

While the interior of the Lexus RC F wasn’t perfect, the driving performance, exterior looks, and build quality are up to snuff enough to make me think I’d be interested in one of these over the BMW or Mercedes.

One of the reasons for this is the price. The Lexus comes with a starting price of $64,750. The BMW M4 Coupe has a starting price of $69,150. The Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 Coupe has a starting price of $68,750. For the minor gains in performance in terms of acceleration and track prowess, I think I’d rather save the money. That’s just me, though.

If you’re the kind of person who goes to the racetrack often and really wants to extract the most out of your car, then a BMW or Mercedes might be a better choice.

You could also consider the Lexus RC F Track Edition, but then you’re looking at a starting price of $96,650. Of course, with some options added to the BMW or Mercedes, you could reach that price pretty easily, too. It all comes down to what you want. Personally, I’m leaning towards the Lexus.