What's it like to drive the Lexus RC F?

This sports coupe packs a powerful punch. But is it enough to worry arch-rivals Audi and BMW?

by Andrew Saunders
Last Updated: 30 Nov 2016

Lexus is best known for A8 and 7 Series-worrying luxury cruisers and hybrid eco-wafters. But it is not a brand that has caused the hard-riding types at Audi's RS or BMW's Motorsport divisions many sleepless nights. Buyers of flashy coupes with near-supercar performance do not naturally turn to Toyota's premium stable, but rather to established class-leaders the BMW M4 or Audi RS5.

But the boys and girls at Lexus clearly think they should, and have made a determined stab at providing a credible alternative to the high-speed Teutonic hegemony. The no-holds-barred RC F is the result.

Like a sumo wrestler, its styling may lack finesse but it certainly means business. Even parked it looks aggressive. Press the big engine start/stop button and the testosterone starts pumping thanks to the RC F's frankly enormous five-litre, 470bhp V8 engine. This is pure under-bonnet one-upmanship, more powerful than either of those aforementioned rivals. Americans (Lexus's core market) will likely approve, but with sterling in the toilet, a displayed 20 miles to a gallon of unleaded will be a hard sell in the UK.

The cockpit is very black and the seats are very snug but it's comfy and surprisingly practical. There's room in the back for tweenage kids and an OK boot, to boot (although if such things matter, it may be time to admit that you are no longer in the target demographic). And it's better over speed bumps than many more quotidian machines.

But out on the open road, plant the throttle if you dare and Dr Jekyll becomes Mr Hyde. The acceleration is brutal and the accompanying engine noise - now such a vital component of the marketing mix that some manufacturers actually amp it up through the car's speakers - is suitably impressive, and needs no electronic enhancement. In the right circumstances the RC F's performance is a hoot: a Ferrari or a McLaren may be faster on paper but to any sane driver on a public road the difference is negligible.

The only real hitch is the dreary truth of 21st-century driving.

Most journeys are not early morning jaunts on empty roads, or weekend getaways on free-flowing motorways. They are school runs and congestion-clogged commutes. And the RC F is an awful lot of car for that.

SPECIFICATION

Lexus RC F
Price: £66,415 (as tested)
Engine: 4,969cc 32-valve V8
Transmission: Eight-speed sports direct shift automatic
Fuel consumption: 26.2 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions: 252g/km
Power: 471bhp/351kW @7,100rpm
0-62 mph: 4.5 seconds
Top speed: 168 mph (electronically limited)
3 out of 5


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