Lexus RC F — Styling and mechanical tweaks

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(September 20, 2020) A mix of comfort and track-like performance makes the 2020 Lexus RC F perhaps the perfect choice for someone who desires a luxury-infused daily driver with an attitude backed up by 472 horsepower and cutting-edge styling. Lexus is keeping its luxury-rocketship coupe — introduced in 2014 as the RC 350 — competitive with numerous updates including styling tweaks and a slight increase in horsepower from its V-8 engine.

The RC F competes with cars such as the BMW M4, Mercedes-Benz C63 coupe and the Audi RS 5 coupe. The RC F is the most affordable coming in between 5 and 10 grand less than these competitors and it's arguably the most attractive despite its massive cow catcher grille — and it is infused with the renowned Lexus luxury interior and Lexus noted reliability.

What makes the RC F so attractive to us is its ability to transform itself from a luxury muscle car to an incredibly agreeable commuter vehicle. We think it would also serve well as a road trip car with a softer ride and more comfortable front seats than most vehicles in its segment.

The cabin is a sumptuous place with a forward-looking design that is modernistic with touches of tradition such as the center-mounted analog clock. Materials are first-class, all surfaces soft to the touch. The RC F has the kind of instant charisma to effectively compete against the vaunted German nameplates.

Updates for 2020 include revised intake routing giving the car's standard engine a five-horsepower increase and an additional six pound-feet of torque. The RC F's weight has been slightly reduced and the suspension has been retuned. Electronic launch control is now standard and the car's headlights, grille and taillights have been restyled.

The RC F is driven by a naturally aspired 5.0-liter V-8 that gives it the urgency needed for a true sports coupe mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels. For comparison purposes, the RC F can complete a 0-to-60 run in between 4.2 and 4.5 seconds depending on whose statistics you prefer. That should be fast enough for the average driver, but some of the RC's competition — all powered by turbocharged engines — are faster.
For instance, the BMWM4 Competition has been recorded in 3.8 seconds and the Audi RS 5 Coupe has been clocked at 3.7 seconds.

For 2020, Lexus has answered the Germans with a new RC F Track Edition that features a precisely engineered set of upgrades that Lexus says work together seamlessly to push its performance to a new level. Weight reduction was a key area of focus for the Track Edition with a curb weight of 3,781 pounds — 176 pounds less than the previous RC F. Also improved is the car's aerodynamic signature. The result is a faster coupe — 4.1 seconds 0-to-60 and a quarter mile time of 12.4 seconds. Base price is $97,675, a whopping $31,900 more than the standard RC F, which carries a base of $65,775.

The RC F comes with several drive modes through its Adaptive Variable Suspension that can be dialed up by a center controller. We preferred the Sport designation that reduces damping at low speeds over bumpy roads to maintain comfort, while stiffening the shocks at higher speeds and during fast cornering to enhance control. We found the RC F quite adept at handling the twists and turns of our favorite winding road "test track." To get a really athletic experience dial up the Sport+ setting.

As you should expect from a car starting just under 66 grand, it comes well equipped with such things as adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, automatic emergency braking, simulated leather upholstery, GPS Link smartphone-based navigation system, Apple CarPlay connectivity and a 10-speaker sound system.

Unfortunately you will have to opt for the Premium Package option at $5,350 to get blindspot monitoring, a feature we think should come standard on all vehicles regardless of price. The package also brings memory driver's seat, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and leather trimmed interior.

Our test vehicle also included the $2,725 Navigation System package that included the Mark Levinson surround sound system with 17 speakers and 835 watts. And we got the 19-inch forged alloy wheels for $1,500.

Bottom line of our test vehicle was $78,590 including destination charge.

If you like the overall looks of the RC F and the features it offers, but the price of entry is just too high, fear not. The standard RC 350 with a healthy 3.5-liter V-6 making 311 horsepower starts at $45,250 and can be purchased with all-wheel drive. The F Sport edition of the RC 350 with all the handling bits and pieces begins at $50,320 including destination charge.

2020 Lexus RC F


Base price: $65,775; as driven, $78,849
Engine: 5.0-liter V-8
Horsepower: 472 @ 7,100 rpm
Torque: 395 foot-pounds @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2/2
Wheelbase: 107.5 inches
Length: 185.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,902 pounds
Turning circle: 35.4 feet
Luggage capacity: 101 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 17.4 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 16 city, 24 highway, 19 combined
0-60: 4.2 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: BMW M4 Competition, Audi RS 5

The Good
• Healthy V-8 engine
• Excellent daily driver
• Comfortable ride and seating

The Bad
• Frustrating infotainment system

The Ugly
• Tech features becoming dated