The Lexus RC- F is Lexus’ take on what a luxury sport coupe should be, a two-door blend of comfort Lexus customers are accustomed to, and sports car handling wrapped up in good looks. For 2019 the RC-F got a facelift and a little more horsepower. In my last review of the RC-F, I called it a jungle cat with a gem under the hood.
This thing looks like it would pick a fight with you at a bar, or maybe kick sand in your face at the beach. Look-at-me yellow paint and angular body lines create an aggressive aesthetic for the 2020 RC-F. The roof is carbon fiber, as is the dynamic spoiler which up and down according to the car’s speed. You can also operate it with a button on the dash so you can flex on posers at red lights.
Front and center is that crazy Lexus grille. I’ve found the lower it is to the ground the less absurd it looks. The LC500 for example looks exceptional with it. The “check mark” headlights of the previous gen were ditched in favor of these one-piece LEDs. The 19 inch hand-polished BBS are stunning and allow those big Brembo brake calipers to peek through. However, the orange paint on the calipers is a questionable color decision next to the yellow body color and is a $300 dollar option I might omit if I was ordering one for me. But that’s picking nits.
The fender vents behind the front wheels let everyone know you’ve got the goods under the hood. Out back, diagonally stacked exhaust outlets make this car look as good going as it does coming.
INTERIORSome materials in the RC-F are sort of a letdown. Lexus uses foamy feeling shift boot and plasticy “leather” for the shift boot around the gear selector and on either side of the console. However, you can look all day and not find a seam that’s not laser straight. The blue and white contrasting thread looks beautiful. Seats are dead comfortable especially given the low-slung sporty nature of the car.
The fit and finish in the cabin is exceptional. The RC-F’s interior is adorned with carbon fiber and aluminum accents, but it doesn’t feel over the top. Even the requisite luxury-car analog clock doesn’t feel too out of place.
The Mark Levinson audio system pumps tunes through 17 speakers stuffed into the car. There’s a large infotainment screen in the dash controlled by the touchpad mounted in the console. It’s also too distracting to use while driving. All the amenities one comes to expect in a luxury car are present, radar cruise, rain-sensing wipers, blind-spot monitoring and a bevy of other features.
The V8 in this car sounds lovely. Punch it from a stand still and you’ll get to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. That’s quick. Acceleration smooth and determined. Lexus engineers give drivers the option to completely disable the traction control and vehicle stability (thank you engineers). The 2020 has a launch control feature that, in spite of watching a handful of Youtube videos, I couldn’t make heads or tails of. The excellent throttle response, precision steering, and high-tech differential keep things from going too wayward. In the bends this car has grip. On the highway the car is quiet and refined.
The RC-F has changed. This is a better car than the one I reviewed in 2017. Back then, I likened it to an apex predator. As I drove it I kept a hungry eye out for ‘Vettes who might want to test their mettle. However, while this car has improved immeasurably, the landscape has changed. This RC-F, with all these goodies, will set buyers $89,000. That’s for a pretty car that’s certainly pretty quick. But can you imagine the sad empty feeling in the pit of your stomach when you pull up the the light and get embarrassed by a Dodge grocery getter that costs practically half what you’ve signed up to pay? That’s a legitimate possibility. The Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack actually edges out the RC-F’s 0-60 time with a base price around $45k. Ouch.
And as far as hunting Vettes goes, forget about it. The 2020 C8 Corvette is a purpose build murder machine with hyper car speed. When equipped with the Z51 performance package, it’ll get to 60 in under three seconds. It looks outrageous. It will smoke anything on the road. It has more horsepower and costs about $30,000 less than the RC-F. Thirty grand!
So, while the RC-F has improved, I’m afraid Lexus would have to go back to the drawing board to compete. I don’t understand this car. I don’t know who it’s for. It’s aggressive and remarkable but it’s not the best at anything. It’s also terribly expensive. The takeaway: if you want one, don’t doll it up with all the chintzy tinsel. At the base price of $65k this car makes a little more sense, and you won’t be counting how many payments you have left as you watch domestic cars pulling on you.
Episode 3 is out! Take a break from Tiger King and watch it while it’s hot!
Big thanks to AMFM production for putting this video together. Check him out his YouTube channel and follow his Instagram for more.
Back in 2012, I remember seeing the achingly pretty LF-LC Concept. I thought, “Lexus will never build something that outrageous for the road.” I was dead wrong. Fast forward five years and I saw early models, re-monikered the LC 500, gliding along city streets. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a press loan. In October 2019, I got the opportunity to spend two full weeks with the gorgeous LC 500h.
Get ready for attention. While filling up somebody may saddle up to you and say, “Hey nice car, how long have you had it?” You may reply, “Not long, about a week.” He, a hard-working white-collared suburbanite, will look you up and down and silently wonder how an unshaven, rakish neerdowell can afford such a machine. He’ll wonder where his life went wrong as he climbs into is F-150 and stares longingly at the hard creased body and perfect proportions of the LC500.
It’s a stunning thing to behold, and really the first design by Lexus that’s swept me away. That’s why I assert that this is the most beautiful Lexus ever built. Now, you may be thinking, “What about the LFA, huh?” Well, perhaps you need a refresher. Go ahead and Google it, I’ll wait… See, I told you. While the LFA was certainly a departure in design terms, I don’t consider it beautiful.
The LC 500 looks like a low-production hyper-car. It’s classy too. It manages to be outstanding without being garish. There are no silly wings or splitters hanging off the front or rear to spoil the profile and you won’t find any day-glo accents. It’s simply a stunning shape.
The LC 500 has a long low hood, sweeping A-pillars, and a neat little trunk space. It’s a formula for a sexy silhouette. It’s low, slinky and pinched in the middle, resulting in a slightly arched look. Like a cat ready to pounce. There are no odd angles to the car. From the front corner, it has no rival. The wheel design makes the optional 21 inch rims look even larger. They tuck perfectly within the wheel wells. Lastly, this is the first car I’ve seen where Lexus’ spindle grille really works.
The interior is lovely too. The materials are excellent and the execution is about as nice as you’ll find in any car. This is no surprise though, Lexus brought in the same craftsmen they employed for the LSA to do the finer work on the LC 500. It sounds nice too, this press car was fitted with the optional 13 speaker Mark Levinson audio system.
The seats are firm and after about 350 miles you’ll feel it, but just look how pretty they are. The door panels feature a gorgeous sweeping design stitched into Alcantara, carbon fiber accents and bespoke Lexus branded fasteners.
The 2020 LC500h features a 10.3 inch display controlled by Lexus’ baffling touchpad interface to control everything from the A/C to the navigation. It’s bizarre and nearly impossible to use. I didn’t figure out how to activate the heated and cooled seats for a week. But who cares? Look how pretty the car is.
In the two weeks, I had the car I made the drive from Dallas to Austin and back. On-ramp acceleration is quick. Combined power from the dual electric motors and 3.5 liter V6 is 354 hp. That’s good for a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds. Faster than a 911 Carrera and only .2 slower than the 471 hp V8 LC 500.
Power is transmitted to the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic combined with a CVT setup that acts like a ten-speed auto. It’s efficient too, Lexus claims the LC 500h gets 35 mpg on the highway and 27 around town. I didn’t keep that close an eye on the mileage numbers, but I can vouch for a 500 mile range before the fuel light comes on.
Mash the gas pedal and the LC 500h V6 leaps into a sonorous departure. The back end gives a subtle slither before the traction control engages to keep the nose pointed in the right direction. It’d be a pity to bend one of these beautiful fenders. When you’re not hotdogging around, the drive is smooth and quiet. Different drive modes change the ride from firm to supple. It’s an excellent interstate hauler and predictable handling makes winding back roads fun.
On the hill country backroads outside Austin, there were ghostly quiet moments when EV mode would kick on at speed. Cruising over winding blacktop through pristine scenery when the engine cuts out and the electric motors silently waft the car along at 60 mph is my favorite memory driving the car.
I don’t really know who this car is for. There are more comfortable, more sporty and less expensive cars. However, you’d be hard-pressed to buy anything this lovely to look at. It’s not only the best-looking Lexus ever built, it’s in the running for one of the best-looking things on four wheels made in the last two decades.
It has supermodel skin over a distance runner’s guts. The LC 500h has a sticker price of $97,000. When it’s dolled up the way this one is you’ll be out nearly $104k. That’s a whole lot of dough and makes this car the third member of the Dirt on Cars $100k club.
Last year, a Rembrandt doodle of a guy with a mustache sold for $80,000. This car, to my eye anyway, is much better looking and I challenge anyone to drive a Rembrandt etching at 100 miles per hour. I admit to being more than a little smitten with the LC-500’s looks. In my head, there’s a flow chart, where each path leads from a fault to the ultimate answer “But just look how pretty it is.”
You can read my initial review of this car here.