Car of the Year Review – 2015 Lexus RC-F

Car of the Year Review - 2015 Lexus RC-FThe RC-F was a true highlight among all the cars tested in 2015. And in the weeks since the Lexus sports flagship spent time in my garage, the deep longing and feelings for the car have not subsided.

The first week was deep mourning at its absense, and the other seven stages of grief have passed over the CRD team like the eye of a hurricane.

Finally, a bit of a light at the end of this tunnel: we must crown the RC-F the Car of the Year. In doing so, we honor its incredible strengths and the legacy it leaves behind!

Four HD drive videos and a mega-batch of all-new photos to share along with this full drive review. Headings are the standard: Exterior, Interior, Performance, Pricing and Summary.



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Why so serious on the intro for this joy-bomb? Simply to express the gravity of its excellence, and get you ready for effusive praise that is slightly, though not wholly, grounded on earth.

The exterior design is clearly the first major lure of the RC-F, and this first F coupe since the LF-A has a first-mover advantage in its corner versus the M4 and RS5, plus the C63 and even the Porsche 911 Carrera — which is a real competitor for the RC-F, but looks nothing near as fresh.

The RC-F’s major styling details and bodystyle are shared with the RC350 and now the new RC200t and RC300 AWD for 2016. From that perfectly-proportioned starting point, the RC-F goes wild on all sides.




Embellished and injected with banned performance-enhancing substances, the nose of the RC-F scoops deep down toward the pavement with a stunningly aggressive spindle grille design. This ultra low and mean grille looks outstanding on the RC-F — even among those who might not have loved the design theme’s execution on the LS, GS and other Lexus models. The black chrome edge of the grille flows all the way around, mixed with metallic graphite details at its lower splitter point. Ducted air intakes in the lower edges of the main grille give the intake a sense of purpose and high-performance necessity. A functional flourish.2015 Lexus RC-F Ultra White Premium Package 14

Wearing “L” shapes in the upper grille mesh, the lower mesh is full of “F” shapes in its lower sections. The detail intricacy is completely fresh in the automotive world, and helps resolve the taller hoodline and flared fender shapes exclusive to the RC-F.  Tilted lower flanks in the outer bumpers are RC-F exclusives, while the tripple-beam LED low and highbeams make clear this is a stunning exotic to all other road users — even from 1000-feet away.

Flowing up over the fenders with smooth but muscular lines, the front fenders extend out over the semi-slick Michelin Pilot rubber and 19-inch, hand-polished forged alloys (a $1500 option).

Behind the Lexus-branded Brembo clamps, the fender vent behind the front wheels is a deep cut into the painted and usually-solid surface. Freeing hot air from throughout the engine bay and cooling package, the slice of fender vent continues down into a deep and low sill extension. This line rounds itself in the outer edge of the sill before flying off the bodywork in right ahead of the rear wheels.2015 Lexus RC-F Ultra White Premium Package 66 2015 Lexus RC-F Ultra White Premium Package 4

This bodykit is so well-designed and integrated that it is hard to call it an aero kit. It is just an inherent and virtually seamless part of the design.

Moving toward the tail, the all-new rear fenders are a highlight from all angles. But especially from above and the front three-quarter, where these massive bulges really make themselves top-of-mind.

The flared rear fenders are critical: they house massively wider rear rubber than the normal RC Coupes. The fenders are so wide, in fact, that an all-new and much broader rear bumper is needed to meet them flush behind the back axle.

From this flexed shoulder, the RC-F’s rear bumper wears a deeply carved scallop in its outer edges. This is purely aerodynamic — cleaning and separating dirty/hot brake air from the relatively clean underbody flow.A side benefit, however, of such a deeply exotic slash in the bumper is that it helps the RC-F have a true widebody feel from in back. Combined with the new-shape trunklid, there is a strong and macho stance of the RF-F’s tail that is totally unique in the RC or Lexus lineup. All this helps the RC-F feel more special, more clearly new and clearly super-fast than even the M4 from the back. Many would mistake the M4 for its M3 predecessors, or, gasp, perhaps just a 428i from a similar pure tail angle.

An active rear spoiler atop the RC’F’s trunk is fully integrated and invisible from behind until it is activated, either at highway speeds automatically or manually via its cabin controls.2015 Lexus RC-F Ultra White Premium Package 130 2015 Lexus RC-F Ultra White Premium Package 17 2015 Lexus RC-F Ultra White Premium Package 46 2015 Lexus RC-F Ultra White Premium Package 1

This RC-F wears the standard gloss-black for its rear diffuser, carving new aero details into the stacked quad exhaust finishers. These took some flack in the first-gen IS-F for being unusual, and not being the actual exhaust pipes — which are still hidden inside these satin-polished outlets.

For the RC-F, however, the times have caught up: Ferrari now uses this design element to stack their exhaust in the California, while the RC-F bellows from the back with such evocative note in this generation that we’d be fine with any exhaust look out back.







The RC-F we tested wore the Premium package, which includes the posher LED headlights and some sweet cabin upgrades. These include cooled as well as heated racing buckets as standard, plus parking assist, automatic wipers and black carbon-fiber cabin trim.

As standard, the RC-F is absolutely *right* from first sitting. The seats with high-backed buckets are divine, as is the driving position with a low and ultra-supportive yet comfortable range of adjustments. The power tilt/telescoping wheel now extends far back and low — planting the LF-A style three-spoke steering wheel right into your hands. Optimal control, plus long-distance driving ease.

The RC-F’s cabin builds from the fantastic RC350 base point very effectively. The steering is meatier, the contact patches of the front tires hanging on tight even around parking lots. It is a piece of cake to drive for anyone in any tight parking lot, of course, but feels far more special and serious than any other RC Coupe.  Regretfully, one really cool party trick is missing on the RC-F versus the RC350 F Sport: the adaptive dials of the TFT dash display. In the RC350 F Sport, the physical dial edge motors over to show a sports menu when needed. The RC-F’s dials are fixed, aside from swapping colors and displays based on the drive mode selected.

Another missing goody from the test car? The TVD controls as equipped on the Performance Pack cars, or when the Torque-Vectoring-Differential is selected as an a la carte option for $1500. rcf cabin colors

Besides the colors and trims, the RC-F’s $1000 moonroof and $800 leather seats are the main cabin options — upgrading from the standard NuLuxe. Even without the creatively-stitched leathers wrapping nearly every surface, the RC-F sets a solid sporting mood for all trims. This is helped by the various premium carbon and alloy trims available, the standard black headliner, and overall fabulousness of the drive experience from first startup.

Unlike any Lexus before the LF-A — IS-F included — the RC-F fires up with a massively erotic and deep-breathing Thrummm. The 5.0-liter V8 is just reminding you of its track-ready pace, active intake and Sport Plus mode that is Porsche-like in its aggressiveness.

The racing V8 mood is a big asset for the RC-F as thew M4 and C63 go turbo — and feel far less exotic when you tap the start buttons.





The RC-F is begging for full throttle from the moment its chain-driven, VVTL-i engine wakes its 467 ponies.

Drive modes vary from adaptive Normal to Eco, up to Sport and Sport Plus via the control knob in the console.

No mode can silence the engine’s ferociousness, so just flip to Sport Plus right away for the max immersion.

With this drive mode engaged, the RC-F is louder and proud at all times. It makes a causal link between the gas pedal and your smile muscles — they are forever linked.

On the road, the 4.4-second RC-F makes rapid pace along with a sonorous active intake as the tenor and a singing exhaust roar as the soprano of the chorus. Bewitching.

The RC-F is so fast that we could not safely take the normal drive videos in Charleston, SC country roads. Nope, we wanted wide open twisties to stretch the RC-F’s legs meaningfully.  Without traffic in front to slow you down, the RC-F just runs and runs like a racehorse. The eight-speed directshift automatic is fabulously tight and rapid on all shifts — never lagging or slushing the power between shifts like a normal torque-converter automatic.

Paddle shifters are supremely responsible, if a bit irritating with frequent ‘shift-denied’ beeps. Likely operator error.

Leaving the shifter to its own devices is the fastest way to love the RC-F — perfect gear, every time. Passing moves from 45-mph in a normal car might take you to 70-mph before you make it back to your lane. In the RC-F, this 3-second event rockets you near 100-mph and will shock the faces of those you pass.

They have never heard such an exotic shout in their ear on passing — to the point where we took it easy on passed cars if they had their windows open. =]

The RC-F made fast friends in all driving, where it moves at warp speed as if all other commuters were asleep at the wheel. A firm and feelsome steering helm is perfectly matched to the chassis, letting you hang on tight around corners — getting *thisclose* to the car’s limits any time, for any driver.

We even did some outrageous donuts to prove the ESP system does indeed shut off fully when the right buttons are pushed. Spinning in graceful, white-smoke pirouettes on a dis-used country cul-de-sac, the RC-F feels divine howling in circles.

Precise steering here is a big asset — as it is at all times — giving the RC-F a real knife-edge level of control in extreme driving. We found little evidence of other tester’s complaints about the RC-F feeling heavy. In fact, when the RC-F and I danced, the car felt light as a feather in low-speed corners. Throttle prods deep into the carpet seem to sink you into the RC-F chassis itself. The old cliche of man and machine as one — proven here in real life.

Around fast sweepers, the RC-F’s symbiosis with its driver adds a huge level of confidence. This car works with you to make ridiculous speed. It feels trustworthy, reliable and as though it is smiling as big as its driver.

We worried too that the TVD was critical to driver enjoyment in the RC-F, but are happy to report the standard TORSEN limited-slip differntial is quite accomplished. Even with TCS and ESP fully disabled, the RC-F wants to stick and find grip at all times in back. It is slightly less planted in feel with the TVD in its wild settings, which lightens the tail from its vice grip to the pavement in standard form. The trusty always-ready grip of the RC-F really sets it apart from the M4, which is more twitchy and touchy in 9/10ths driving.


The RC-F is obviously incredible. A dry-sumped engine or special racing cam would be the next most hardcore mods Lexus could engineer, however. Yes, the RC-F’s induction and exhaust are stellar sonics. But you get little of the actual metallic and shrill shrieks of true exotics. A more gritty, harsher sound seems hard to recommend… but would take the RC-F to the next level.

A dry sump would also let Lexus lower the engine mounting position a few inches up front, aiding all dynamic handling plus lowering the bulging hood in profile of the RC-F versus the RC350 and others.

We love this drivetrain more than certain family members. But would like a bit quicker transmission response in 5-60-mph sprints, where the RC-F’s autobox is slower than a Panamera DSG or even Hellcat ZF eight-speed on initial kickdowns.

ESP Off Trick?

The only trick we’ve found regarding the RC-F’s VDIM controls is to do the 10-second button push while in Park.   In Drive, the system does not disable ESP fully no matter how long you hold the button down.  When it is in full off, a special icon appears on the dash beyond the digital ‘tcs disabled’ display alert you see otherwise.




The RC-F is priced from $63k , which is outstanding value versus the Cadillac ATS, BMW 3 series and Mercedes C-Class.  As well as the RC350, to be honest, which touches $55k with options.

Packages for the RC-F are the Performance pack, Premium pack, Nav pack or full Mark Levinson Nav package. The first two are detailed below — with the Premium pack matching the Perf package if you select the torque vectoring differential for its $1000 standalone price.

The triple-beam LED headlights are also offered as standalone options — are are a must have in our view.


Performance Pack

On the Carbon pack for the RC-F, thise black diffuser is replaced with exposed-weave CF, as is the rear spoiler and roof. In Europe, the Carbon pack also includes a CF hood, but the US cars stick with their aluminum hood and its integrated central ventwork.


As tested with nearly every option aside from the Performance pack, our hero RC-F came in at $72,000 — and feels worth every cent.


Lexus RC-F, you passed through my hands like rushing river whitewater.

So thrilling to anticipate, sensual to experience first-hand, and crippling in its absense.

The RC-F is easily one of the best sports cars in the world. Its unique appeal as a Lexus makes all the extreme, hoon-happy and supercar-baiting speed and sounds even more of a contrast.

But at the end of the workday, the RC-F is like a perfect best friend.

Sometimes chill, sometimes a thrill.

But PERFECT for you Monday through Sunday.

Car of the Year?

The 2015 Lexus RC-F.



Car of the Year Review – 2015 Lexus RC-F

Book a test drive or explore colors over at this link.!/zip/29455/series/RCF/year/2016/trim


2015 Lexus RC F – Wheels Visualizer

2015 Lexus RC F Colors and Wheels Visualizer 3 2015 Lexus RC F Colors and Wheels Visualizer 2 2015 Lexus RC F Colors and Wheels Visualizer 1

2015 Lexus RC-F Colors Visualizer

Book a test drive or explore colors over at this link.!/zip/29455/series/RCF/year/2016/trim