My trip to automotive heaven only lasted five days but it was enough to convince me the 2019 Lexus RC F 2-door, rear-wheel-drive coupe is one of those cars that comes along, only every once in a while, to seduce drivers.
The seduction begins with spittoon-inducing looks that are simultaneously muscular and sensual. The 2019 Lexus RC F’s Ultrasonic Blue Mica exterior accents the coupe’s menacing black grille (that seems to repel bugs!) and articulated quadruple exhausts, With heat-exiting panels fronting the double doors, chrome-rimmed windows and simple, defining lines fore to aft, the RC F evinces brute strength and agility in looks alone.
Peer under the hood for Lexus’ 5-liter V-8 engine sprouting 467 horsepower at 7,100 rpm and 389 lb-ft of torque at 4,800. Redline is at 6,000 (although the engine seems not to care if it’s pelted with a heavy foot beyond that point). The eight-speed automatic transmission is assisted by paddle shifters at an easy reach and by Torque Vectoring Differential settings that offer standard, slalom and track options. Your usage may be different from mine, but traveling back roads west of Indianapolis meant never having to be “standard”.
F Sport settings, double wishbones and multilinks are the front/rear suspension decisions made by Lexus for its RC F coupe, while speed-sensing rack and pinion electronic power steering gives this corpulent, 3,958-pound coupe an agile 2.8 turns lock to lock on a 35.4-foot turning circle. Lexus fits orange-hued, ventilated Brembo brakes all around with generous six- and four-piston calipers, respectively doing yeoman duty to bring the beast to a halt.
Lexus’ RC F coupe’s mechanicals offer serious stuff for serious drivers. Become one with this machine and it’s a truly gratifying relationship. While only five days’ experience was available for this review, it encompassed a trip from Chicago’s O’Hare airport, through cut-throat Illinois traffic, a visit to Costco for vitals that helped fill the 10.1-cubic-foot trunk to near-capacity (there was a carry-on suitcase and backpack already in steerage and this trip was a full 15-day visit with friends so gifts were necessary). There is a spare tire and first-aid kit in the beautifully finished trunk.
Driving on Indiana’s interstate highways was lovely as there were always opportunities to leave the anti-destination league behind. Thankfully not one state police officer noticed the speeds we were traveling or the fun we were having. The Lexus’ incredible power sport seats give support and comfort simultaneously. Even the passenger has full power with lumbar, and moving the seatbacks for access to the cramped rear seat area is easy as both glide forward and return to their previous settings. Windows dip at entry/exit; driver’s seat and steering wheel retract.
There are carbon fiber accents throughout the cabin, aluminum pedals and suede inserts that include the upper dash area, along with a multitude of soft-touch features. The leather-wrapped steering wheel, with its “F” insignia offers audio and phone controls to the left, while trip info and cruise distance, lane departure are on the right. The wheel is tactile and gives great chassis feedback. Toyota fits its customary cruise control stalk lower right on the steering column – it works well, so why change it?
After admiring all the carbon accents throughout the cabin, I went looking to change the dual trip odometers. I found them at lower left of the steering wheel, together with auto headlights setting. In the shallow and beautifully finished central storage, there are two USB, one auxiliary and a single 12-volt plug. But considering the cost of this coupe, a wireless charging pad would have been optimal.
The Lexus RC F has been on the market since 2015 and a 2020 model is already available, offering a pinch more horsepower and an elevated price. Speaking of which, this 2019 RC F coupe starts at $65,775 including freight. Lexus has nine options that elevate the cost to $82,044. Included are 19-in hand-polished BBS 20-spoke forged alloy rims instead of seven-spoke wheels, mounted on 255/35R front and 275/35R rear Michelin tires ($1,500), premium triple-beam LED headlamps ($1,160) and $800 for the leather-trimmed interior.
Lexus provides an excellent, always visible navigation system with Mark Levinson audio that’s comprised of 17 speakers providing 835-watt, 7.1 premium surround sound, DVD/CD player with GreenEdge & CLARI-Fi technology, backup camera and remote touchpad controller for $2,725. The orange Brembo brake calipers add $300 while the gorgeous blue paint costs $595. For $5,500 Lexus provides its performance package, consisting of this vehicle’s carbon fiber roof, carbon fiber speed-activated rear wing and the torque-vectoring rear differential, which controls torque to each rear wheel through a multi-plate clutch, enhancing performance.
The premium package includes heated and ventilated front seats with three-driver seat memory, carbon fiber interior trim, blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, intuitive park assist, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming mirrors with memory reverse tilt and steering memory for $3,240. Finally, illuminated door sills extract another $449. Are these details all worth it? Only if driving pleasure is important.
Among the (kinda wonky) infotainment interface features on this RC F Lexus coupe are ApplePlay integration, Lexus Enform 4GB WiFi and Enform remote with a one-year trial that includes smart watch and Alexa skill integration (Alexa is complementary on this vehicle). The RC F is compatible with Toyota’s Scout GPS. There is full Bluetooth technology but, similar to the RC350 F Sport driven in Florida earlier this year, syncing the phone required time and wine. Not sure how my friend Shane finally got it to work but, thankfully he did. It was frustrating.
With the heft of this coupe and its majestic power, good mileage wasn’t expected from the 17.4-gallon tank. Lexus’ RC F is rated at 16/25/19 mpg and premium fuel is required. For the 650 miles or so accumulated, the average this driver saw was just under 25 mpg, which isn’t bad at all, considering the enthusiasm with which one is required to drive this car. It begs you to have fun and you’ve got to respond in kind.
It’s not numbingly quiet inside the 2019 Lexus RC F but that’s okay. A proper driver wants to be connected to the road, and hearing some road noise shouldn’t be unacceptable. This Lexus wants to be your enthusiastic road-going companion and gives back so much pleasure to the driver. The blue beauty was a five-day star at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Returning this Lexus was definitely the saddest part of my springtime trip to the midwest this year.
Words and photos by Anne Proffit