2019 Lexus RC F — F is like M, V, RS and AMG

By Jim Prueter

(February 19, 2019) First introduced back in 2015 the Lexus RC F was developed to compete against the best high-performance coupes out there — Audi RS, BMW M, Mercedes-Benz AMG and Cadillac V — that deliver rocket-sled acceleration, tenacious handling and inexorable braking. These coupes come wrapped in specialty sport-designed, aerodynamic, athletic bodies, with indulgent interiors and some of the best heavily bolstered chairs you’ll ever sit in.

Since its introduction, RC F has remained mostly unchanged from year to year, with only minor changes and updates and is mostly a carryover vehicle for 2019.

For the 2019 model year driven here, the RC F is still powered by the same 467-horsepower V-8 engine and an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission that powers the rear wheels. It also has a drive mode selection feature that includes Normal, Sport, Sport S+ and an ECO mode. Sport S+ delivers the most from the powertrain and sets the electric power steering for the greatest degree of driving feel. This is the same engine that powers the new Lexus LC sport coupe, but for tens of thousands less money.

There are a few mechanical changes, as well, for 2019, including new aerodynamics, tires and suspension, as well as improvements to engine response and steering feel that result in a more precise and refined drive. There are also stiffer suspension bushings with new shock absorbers, which improve damping force from low suspension stroke speeds.

The exterior styling of the RC F, while polarizing, is certainly sporty with a strong suggestion of power with its wide stance, long and scooped hood, new bulging fenders, and twin air intakes on the front that help cool the brakes. Front and rear bumpers have been modestly reworked, and there’s a new mesh grille and revised taillights. Out back you’ll find the stacked quad exhaust featured on all F Lexus vehicles. For the record, we really like its looks.

The RC F comes as a single, fully equipped trim level with the option of adding several packages to further personalize it with equipment. Our test RC F included the Performance Package ($3240) that, incidentally, has nothing to do with vehicle performance but does include heated and ventilated seats with memory, black carbon fiber interior trim, rain-sensing wipers, advanced blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, parking assist, and electrochormic outside mirrors.

Also included are standard leatherette upholstery, aluminum pedals, 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, and a sport-oriented instrument cluster with full color LCD that seems lifted directly out of the ultra-high performance Lexus LFA.

The RC F certainly looks the part as a performance coupe and looks as menacing as any of the competitors mentioned above. But, unfortunately, with a more traditional V-8 engine under the hood, it doesn’t match competitors’ performance and acceleration figures. We recorded a zero to 60 time of 4.3 seconds, whereas the M series BMW and Mercedes AMG C63 models record a full second or more quicker for the same test.

Still, among competitor coupes, RC F is one of the most well-rounded vehicles, with overall excellent performance, a well-tuned suspension, torque vectoring differential, and quick shifting eight-speed transmission, but is disadvantaged by its much heavier, nearly two-ton curb weight and a suspension that isn’t as aggressive as its BMW or Mercedes counterparts.

Overall, Lexus RC F is a great driving machine, and certainly earns its place alongside its well-established competitors with plenty of power, but it comes off as a sportier street car rather than a fierce track warrior. Its cabin is certainly luxurious and a nice place to spend time in, and there are ample interesting gauge and operational switchgear details and gadgets, but its polarizing exterior styling — especially its massive maw — isn’t for everyone.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $65,745
Price as Tested: $70,780
Engine: 5.0-liter 467-horsepower naturally aspirated V-8 connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission
Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city/25 mpg highway/19 mpg combined
Seating: 4

Crash Test Ratings: The 2019 RC F received an overall Good rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It has not been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Where Built: Tahara, Aichi Japan

Competes With:
Audi RS 5 Coupe
BMW M4 Coupe
Cadillac ATS-V
Mercedes-Benz C 63 Coupe

Fab Features:
Overall excellent performer
Classy upscale cabin
Flare Yellow metallic exterior color