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The Lexus RC F Earns Itself Import Muscle Car Status

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If the term “Imported from Detroit” wasn’t enough for you or the US’s choice of its 4 horsemen of muscle cars wasn’t enough or rowdy enough for your ears, well that’s where the Lexus RC F comes in. Unlike its other models Lexus ditches the luxury and classy motif instead for a more raucous and boisterous track monster. With a fiery V8 harnessing 472 horsepower this isn’t just your ES350, this is more. In fact, me putting these thoughts onto this paper don’t do this vehicle justice. Because if there’s one thing that “F” suffix at the end, it’s fast.

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Long known for handling sports cars, the Japanese market isn’t exactly putting out its version of the Scat Pack. However, with the RC F you get a monstrous engine stuffed inside such a compact package. Utilizing 472 horsepower and 392 lb-ft of torque. Those are drag strip numbers especially when you take a glance at the power to weight ratio. Unlike those that have come before it, it’s a sharp contrast and tangent from the Lexus vehicles of the past and the stereotype that comes with them. Instead of being hefty, the RC F weighs in at a weight watchers slim 3,902. Under 4,000 lbs, nearly 500 horses, take this to Texas Motor Speedway and watch it eat. While you’re there, you’ll get from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and run the 1/4 mile in a tested 12.1 seconds. Now that’s serious speed. Conjoined with a DCT 8-speed that shifts quicker than you can even hit the paddle, you’ll put grandpa with his cammed ’72 Camaro in your rear view mirror quicker than he can complain about how all the new-fangled cars have too much technology for his boomer brain to handle. Keep in mind, this isn’t an Chevy or a Ford… it’s a Lexus. The same company that makes the NX300 makes a drag strip behemoth?

Granted, the RC F struggles in the handling department. It lacks chassis rigidity and has a lot of body roll. Sending power to the rear wheels allows for the back end to slip out fairly easily, we felt it more in Sport+ mode where most of the electronic babysitters turn off and allow for a purer driving experience. Included with a Torsen Limited Slip Differential, canyon driving is enjoyable but fails to meet some of the handling feel as some of its rivals. The Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 and the Audi RS5 and 6 both offer more refined handling yet lack the bonkers and higher power feel of the RC F. While it’s more classy and quote unquote “exquisite”, the Germans don’t exactly have a car like this anymore. Yes there are German muscle cars but nothing as noisy and outwards as the RC F itself. The M4 provides a competitive matchup, but is faster than the RC F by .1 seconds in the 0-60 run. The RC F situates itself in the middle of the pack in most segments, doing just enough to get by but let’s take into account that’s not what its meant for. Speed is key here. To get there, the RC F provides launch control, dynamic handling modes, sport springs, sway bars, massive size 275 rear tires, and carbon ceramic Brembo brakes to bring itself to a stop. Dual piston Brembo calipers steal the show within the wheel while wrapped in 19-inch performance summer tires.

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It hooks, for a RWD car, it shows little wheelspin or tire squeal. It’s truly cool as soon as you step on the gas you go. There’s no dilly-dallying around with a loss of traction. The gauge cluster is heavily configurable for it being still stuck in the 2010’s with fixed gauges, and it’s intriguing how the physical gauges are allowed to move around about the cluster. Encased within are the heavily fabled Lexus dynamic modes which allow you to choose the perfect mix of driving elements, something we found to work really well.

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The RC F’s dynamic modes allows for the vehicle to toggle between a loud rumbling monster to city cruiser. That to me is one of the best parts of the RC F. I for one love cars you can use in daily life as well as when things get a little wild. After all, you paid for the car, why not use it. That’s what the RC F to me encapsulates, the idea behind using the car in both aspects of life. A weekend rebel paired with a daily driver. Practicality however is where this car lacks. While the driving experience itself may be suitable for everyday, it gets annoying when you have 4 seats and it turns out all you can fit in the back is your passengers’ disappointment and glum faces as they realize they cannot possibly fit back there. Cargo space and interior storage is also sparse, 10.1 in the back, with limited options on the inside. Garnering itself a measly 15.1 MPG combined in our testing, with only a naturally aspirated 5.0 liter, how is anyone supposed to daily this thing? Those pipeline hackers were more evil than we thought… I already see the headlines: “RC F owners are quaking in their boots at the pumps.”

Truthfully though, when you’re speeding around town in a Japanese legend, who cares about how much range you have left? The RC F’s 5.0 L V8 roars out of those diagonal stacked exhaust pipes. Possibly my favorite part of the car, it shows off the sound of the old school motor. Look at that, they even put in a muscle car motor. Mustang owners are looking in disbelief right now, and that’s okay. Their 0-60 times are similar… from a Japanese company. Pinch me now. Driving the RC F and stomping on it is truly a throw your head back in the seat experience. This thing plays no games. Testing around our “test track” was an absolute blast, flying around corners makes us realize, yes, it could be more classy, it could be more subtle… but that would be zero fun. Sometimes you have to appreciate a simple and unrefined vehicle, it makes life a hell of a lot more fun. Hearing that exhaust with the windows down is enough to make any person smile.

While the exterior and driving experience is a bit messy, the interior is a heavy step in the right direction. Grippy bucket seats let you fall in and make you stay there. As we mentioned, body roll is a slight issue in this car but these seats make it a whole lot better. A Mark Levinson sound system and 10.3 inch display come into play but my god the interior is gorgeous. Fine leather, carbon fiber, suede, and Alcantara all make your jaw drop as soon as you see it and feel it. A hint of class is obvious when you see the analog clock in the middle of everything, and that’s exactly what this car makes you feel. Like time itself has stopped— insert analogy to Barry Allen in Flash where time slows down around him. Now that I’ve hyped it all up, here’s an open letter to Lexus: Dear Lexus, here’s my list of grievances: 1.) Get rid of that touch pad with the infotainment system and replace it with a touchscreen. 2.) That’s all.

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The infotainment system may as well be the Achilles Heel of the car. It is flat out dangerous to use sometimes, and many people agree with me. This is not something that is easy to gloss over and ignore. The infotainment system especially in a high-end car like this plays a keystone role and without a good system and user interface, it makes the driving experience gloomy and mundane. A pain to deal with if you will.

The interior colors are also excellent, my favorite is Infrared, it fits so well with my favorite exterior color, Cloudburst Grey. Which would lead me to my next point. The absolute gorgeous exterior. Stunning lines, active and passive aero, as well as good looking special editions finish the deal off for me personally. The RC F comes in two editions: the regular RC F and the RC F Fuji Speedway Edition. The latter includes cool design elements that make the RC F look even more menacing than it already was. On top of the already crazy exhaust, you’ll get a spoiler, more horsepower, a front splitter, dynamic suspension, a titanium exhaust, blacked out everything, and only available in 2 colors. Checkmark LED turn signals, LED everything in terms of lighting, and Batman-esque styling all provide the forefront of the RC F name.

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The Lexus RC F has not exactly come to mess around. It means business, and if that means beating the home team at its own game, then so be it. It’s got flaws, but owners will soon learn to embrace those flaws in exchange for a more raw driving experience. It defies everything Japanese luxury is supposed to be: loud, raw, and outgoing. The RC F starts at just under $70,000 while the Fuji Speedway Edition can easily run you over $100,000 after options. Raw. That’s our verdict.

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