Tuesday, June 16, 2020

2020 Lexus RC F: The Brand’s BMW M Series Fighter Coupe

Highlight: The RC F is outfitted with an active rear spoiler just like one would find on performance cars from Audi and Porsche.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $78,849 (Base Model: $65,925)

Seating Capacity: 4 (2 small kids in the rear)

Standard Safety Features: ABS; Daytime Running Lights; a vehicle stability control system; traction control system; heated outside rearview mirrors; an automatic rearview mirror; a tire pressure monitoring system; a rear-view back up camera; a pre-collision braking system; a lane departure alert system; a radar-activated cruise control system; and an automatic high beam headlight system

Standard Equipment (RC F): 19-inch wheels; an 8-speed automatic transmission; rear wheel drive; electronic rearview mirrors with memory; F badging on exterior of vehicles; orange colored brake calipers; heated outside rearview mirrors; dust/pollen interior air filters; foldable rear headrests; a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; push button ignition start feature; a keyless entry system; a leather shift knob and leather; power seats; pseudo leather with enhanced lateral support; performance-oriented digital gauges; an electronic launch control; and driving modes

Options On Test Vehicle: 19-inch BBS wheels; triple LED headlamps; a navigation system; a 17-speaker Levinson audio system; Orange Brembo brake calipers; parking sensor aids; heated/ventilated front seats with driver’s memory; a heated steering wheel; a blind spot monitor with a rear
cross-traffic alert system; auto dimming mirrors; a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; a rear center console with cupholders; a power moonroof; and paint protection film

Other Trim Level:

RC F Track

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/HD with a satellite radio

Android/CarPlay: Yes

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 5.0-liter, 8-cylinder/472-hp

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage: 16-city/24-hwy

What’s New: For the 2020 model year, the RC F receives a much needed mid-cycle refresh, offering a new Track Edition. Also for the 2020 model year, the base RC F offers improved performance with its updated design. Moreover, the horsepower has been upped by 5 to 472.

Why: The RC F, which is Lexus version of a guzzied-up version of the RC coupe, goes well beyond the F Sport package that has become associated with the Japanese brand. Car buffs view the RC F model as Lexus’ answer to BMW’s M-Series and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance brands. We have to co-sign this.

For the 2020 model year, Lexus has improved the ride and handling of the RC F, making it ready for both street drives and the track. In fact, the product planning team from Lexus has added a new model, the RC F Track. Yes, from all indications that is what this model is designed for.

In fact, the beefed-up trim, with its fixed rear racing spoiler and higher exhaust note, launches from 0 to 60-mph in under 4 seconds. With a starting base price of $97,825, this places the vehicle, which is available in two exterior colors and a red leather interior, within the same price range, as the futuristic looking flagship LC luxury coupe.

However, for those who aren’t quite ready to shell out close to $100,000, they could opt for the more moderately priced base RC F, like the one we tested. Out the gate, a bare-boned RC F is priced under $66,000. As we noted earlier, the big body luxury performance coupe has been modified, offering a retuned suspension, while shedding weight and improving the overall dynamics of the car. Also to aid in the driving experience, Lexus’ engineering team has made the electronic launch control standard for 2020.

With the electronic launch control, the traction and the throttle control of the RC F is automatically adjusted for maximum acceleration, after literally a push of the console button. This system aids with take-off, while being complimented by the standard outfitted Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, which were designed specifically for the RC F.

In addition to the performance and driving enhancements, Lexus’ design team made some subtle, but very noticeable changes to the exterior appearance, with its Nike-like swoosh LED lights being integrated with the daytime running lights. Moreover, the design team reshaped the rear taillights too, making it mirror the four door LS, giving the vehicle a fresh appearance.

All of the noted changes compliment the athletically designed RC F, with its hood vent, which allows the 5.0-liter engine to breathe. This is also the engine that is found underneath the hood of the brand’s flagship coupe, the LC. In fact, when compared to the segment’s competitors, the RC F offers more horsepower than BMW’s M4 Coupe, Infiniti’s Q60 Red Sport 400 and Mercedes-Benz’s E-53. The RC F, which is the only vehicle in this segment with a standard 8-cylinder, beats the competition in terms of power and pricing.

Beyond the performance, inside Lexus’ eye-catching coupe, the vehicle embodies everything one expects from the brand. From the RC F tailored front high back sports seats to its digital performance gauges to the leather stitching connected the interior seams of the vehicle together. Moreover, the sporty coupe offers all of the latest driving aids, too. That includes everything from a safety lane departure warning system to a radar-activated cruise control system.

Lastly, to our surprise, the RC F engineering team was able to find the perfect balance in the ride and handling capabilities of this luxury coupe. We found our RC F to be great for both curvy back roads as well as for expressway driving. The vehicle offers a variety of driving modes too, which aids in the driving experience.

But: Like its flagship sibling the LC, the RC and the RC F are really two seaters. It’s virtually impossible to stuff anything beyond average size in the rear. Some of its competitors are true four seater vehicles – being that there is adequate seating room in the rear.

Moreover, unlike the competition, the RC F is unavailable in an all-wheel drive configuration. Unfortunately, this limits driving this rear wheel drive vehicle in the Snow Belt states.

Furthermore, Lexus’s mouse pad-like controller, which serves as the nerve center to control the brand’s infotainment system, is super sensitive to operate. Thank God, the brand does offer duplicate controls as a back up to the overly sensitive mouse pad. That has been a continuous common complaint of ours, as well as others.

And, while the vehicle’s speedometer was designed to push this Lexus to 200-mph, the RC F lacks a heads up display system. Go figure. This feature could have come in hand, especially for street and highway drives.

Lastly, when is Lexus going to offer a convertible in this model? Mercedes offers a E53 cabriolet.

Verdict: Lexus has done a just in time update with the RC F for 2020, making it quite competitive, when placed up against BMW, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz. When compared to the competition, the base pricing is thousands lower and the RC F is the only vehicle in the segment offering an 8-cyclinder.

Competition: BMW M4 Coupe; Infiniti Q60 Red Sport and Mercedes-Benz AMG E 53 Coupe

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