Lexus RC F 2019 [blank]

2019 Lexus RC F review

Rating: 8.1
$133,771 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
  • Engine Power
  • CO2 Emissions
  • ANCAP Rating
The 'base' RC F presents a relative bargain in the luxury performance coupe segment, combining V8 thrills for tens of thousands less than European competitors.
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If you've missed out on one of the 10 Lexus RC F Track Editions that are headed to Australia – which we also reviewed recently – it might be relieving to know that the 'standard' RC F offers almost all of the same thrills without the hefty price tag or super-limited availability.

While the facelifted RC range has been headlined by the motorsport special, the wider range has picked up a (very welcome) styling upgrade to make it a little less polarising, and a range of changes under the skin to sharpen the handling.

The updates haven't changed what sets the 2019 Lexus RC F (from $133,771 +ORCs) apart from its European rivals, though – what lies beneath the bonnet.

As before, the regular Lexus RC F is powered by a bellowing 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8, which outputs 351kW at 7100rpm and 530Nm between 4800 and 6600rpm. Drive is sent to the rear axle via a Torsen limited-slip differential and eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission with steering-mounted paddle shifters and Launch Control – it's the first Lexus to offer such a function since the iconic LFA supercar.

Even without the new titanium exhaust that's standard on the Track Edition and part of the $29,161 Enhancement Pack 3, the bent eight roars to life from start-up. It has a lovely old-school burbly note that simply isn't matched by its modern competitors that have turned to downsized turbocharged motors.

It boasts more than just a better soundtrack, too. Thanks to its natural aspiration and eight-speed auto, the RC F is silky smooth in everyday driving, with linear power delivery from a standstill, and it continues to pull strong right up to the 7300rpm redline (keep in mind peak power doesn't come in until 7100rpm).

There's no question that the RC F is plenty quick, but it lacks the outright straight-line pace of something like a Mercedes-AMG C63 S, which claims to hit triple figures more than half-a-second quicker than the Lexus. That's largely thanks to its two turbochargers offering an extra 24kW and 170Nm.

Plant your foot on the throttle, though, and the RC F picks up nicely while sending that brassy, rumbly V8 tone out the back and through the cabin (augmented by the Acceleration Sound Control system). It's actually quite addictive, though you'll be hitting Australia's strictly governed speed limits very quickly with a lead foot.

Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to test out the RC F's 0–100km/h performance with proper timing equipment on a closed section of road, though we can assure you that you'll hit triple figures before you can count to Lexus's claim of 4.5 seconds.

With a kerb weight of 1845kg, the Lexus RC F is no knife-edge corner carver, but it turns in well enough and exhibits limited body roll in corners. It does feel heavy, though, and the steering is a bit light and lacks feedback at times.

The positive trade-off with being a little chunky is the overall feeling of stability the Lexus has at all speeds. It's a big, heavy, comfortable car that feels at home in the ’burbs or on the highway, even when the weather conditions are less than favourable.

There's also plenty of grip from the standard Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S tyres that measure 255/35R19 at the front and 275/35R19 at the rear, though all that power will make the rear step out when exiting a corner if you hit the throttle hard.

It'll stop almost as well as it goes, too, thanks to the standard Brembo ventilated performance brakes with six-piston front and four-piston rear aluminium monoblock calipers.

We took the RC F for an extended drive with the Drive Against Depression crew for their Spring Charity Drive through Victoria's north east, including a stint through the Black Spur, Marysville, Eildon, and Alexandra.

Over a mix of highways and winding high-country back roads, the Lexus was a ball of fun and showed off its all-round ability.

During the more relaxing highway stints, it rode comfortably courtesy of its well-tuned adaptive variable suspension system. It was fairly well suppressed from road and wind noise considering the coarse-chip surfaces and low-profile performance tyres, and settled happily into eighth gear humming away below 2000rpm.

Then once we hit some twisty stuff, flicking the drive-mode selector into 'Sport' mode and putting the transmission into manual sharpened everything up a bit and allowed the 5.0-litre V8 to hold revs in its meaty mid-range.

We noticed the transmission can be slow to downshift in all drive modes, while upshifts can be a tad tardy in 'Normal', even when using the steering-mounted paddle shifters.

Even though it's not really a priority for the target buyer, the RC F loves a drink. Around town you'll see the trip computer sit around the 14–15L/100km mark, while extended stints on the freeway will drop that to around 10L/100km.

We covered a little over 860km during our week with the vehicle, and saw an indicated return of 10.3L/100km, though that was with plenty of highway driving. Lexus, meanwhile, officially claims 11.2L/100km on the combined cycle.

From its 66L fuel tank, you could reasonably expect around 550km per fill with an even mix of urban and highway driving, though a skew to traffic-heavy city commutes will see the range drop to around 410km. Naturally, the high-performance V8 engine requires 98RON premium unleaded as a minimum.

Beyond its beefy performance, the RC F has a real crack at offering a luxury-filled cabin, too.

Occupants are treated to lovely semi-aniline leather upholstery with heated and ventilated front seats, 'Glass Fibre' trim inserts, aluminium pedals, a cracking 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, power operation for the front seats and steering wheel with driver memory, a 10.3-inch navigation system with Lexus Remote Touch, SUNA live traffic updates, an 8.0-inch Lexus F digital instrument display, keyless entry and start, digital radio, and dual-zone climate control.

There are also front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, auto high-beam, self-dimming mirrors, eight airbags, and a multi-profile Drive Mode Select system – including Eco, Normal, Sport S, Sport S+ and Custom modes.

Some cabin elements are starting to age and aren't quite up to scratch, though. The centre stack has some cheaper hard plastics that don't feel particularly premium, especially the centre air vents up front, which in our tester wobbled a bit when we adjusted the direction of airflow. The steering wheel spokes and centre cap are likewise finished in cheaper-feeling hard plastics, though it's not like most people will spend their time with their hands on those bits of the wheel, right?

Despite some minor complaints about some of the trim choices, the cabin feels very well screwed together and we didn't pick up one rattle or squeak.

Overall comfort is great, too, thanks to the lovely front sports seats with 'F' embossing, which offer plenty of adjustment and heaps of lower back and under-thigh support to keep you relaxed and comfortable over long stints behind the wheel.

Being a 2+2 seater in realistic terms, rear accommodation isn't plentiful should you carry more than one passenger often, particularly if said passengers are anywhere near six feet in height.

There's a fold-down armrest and cup holders to provide some amenities, and the front seats will automatically leave some extra leg room for rear passengers when you put them back in place, once they touch the knees of someone in the back.

Our tester's black-on-black interior with contrasting blue stitching may not be the most visually exciting colourway, though you can also opt for White/Black and Red/Black leather interiors, too.

From the outside, the RC F in standard trim is actually quite understated, though has several design cues and appointments that remind you this is the 'F'. The revisions to the bumpers, grille and lights as part of the midlife refresh have made the RC more conventionally handsome than the previous iteration, addressing the issue of the older model's polarising looks.

It's a far cleaner design, helped by the single-piece LED headlights and sharper grille. The bonnet vent, chunky bumpers, larger intakes, and large 19-inch forged alloys, meanwhile, remind you of the more sporting intentions of the F model.

Out back, there's an active rear wing that pops up at freeway speeds (or can be manually adjusted), along with Lexus's signature stacked quad exhaust pipes that act as loudspeakers for that 5.0-litre V8.

The lovely 'Infrared' metallic paint of our tester offers a deep, rich colour that looks fantastic in the sun, and also contrasts well with the darker body elements and machined alloys.

Alternative wheel options are featured in the three extra-cost Enhancement Packs should you so desire, while a powered moonroof forms part of Enhancement Pack 1 and 2, neither of which were fitted to our test car.

Further back, there's a decent 366L of cargo volume under the boot lid, which is more than enough for some luggage or sporting equipment and further bolsters the RC F's appeal as an everyday driver.

From an ownership perspective, the Lexus trumps its German rivals by offering a four-year, 100,000km warranty with complimentary roadside assistance for the duration of the warranty period. This beats the German luxury brands for time frame, though Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have unlimited mileage limits.

The Lexus DriveCare programme is complimentary for the duration of the new-vehicle warranty period, which includes 24/7 roadside assistance, one-way metro taxi fares up to $150 (including GST) should your car break down, off-road patrols, a courier service for urgent small parcels or documents, along with entry assistance if you’re locked out of your vehicle. More on that here.

As for servicing, scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000km, with the first four visits asking for an estimated $0, $721, $724 and $721 respectively – totalling $2166 for the first 48 months/60,000km.

If you're looking for a luxury performance car, the RC F presents a compelling offering. It may not have the badge cachet of established German nameplates, but its big V8 and luxurious trimmings make it more than worthy of the 'luxury sports' tag.

Add to that the fact the vehicle you see here is priced at under $134K, and the Lexus makes a case for itself as unbeatable value for money given the likes of the BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe ask for $20–$30K more.