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Lexus RC F 2015 review: road test

EXPERT RATING
6
Paul Gover road tests and reviews the Lexus RC F with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Check the styling and specs and the RC F looks impressive. Except it's not.

When the Highway Patrol trooper pulled me up in the Lexus RC F, I could see big trouble.

But it turned out he really just wanted a look at the hot new coupe running through the countryside in upstate New York, just like the people who turned to stare this week back home in Australia.

The RC is that kind of car.

It's not Ferrari sharp or Lamborghini crazy, but it's a long way down the road from the middle-of-the-road IS and GS that account for most of the Lexus sales in Australia.

Now, if only it could live up to the smooth two-door looks and the promise of a V8 bolted into an old-school rear-wheel drive chassis. But it can't, it doesn't and you won't be finding The Tick here.

The car is more show than go

Lexus has missed a giant opportunity, and disappointed many thousands of fans around the world, with the RC F. Many of them, me included, were hoping that the RC F could be a (reasonably) affordable coupe with the electric response of its limited-edition LFA supercar.

Check the bodywork, read the specifications and it looks like an impressive car. Driving the basic RC, with a 3.5-litre V6, shows Lexus has turned down the right track — and the price of the headline model, from $133,500, is pretty good.

The F-car should fulfil the promise of fast-car success with its free-revving 5.0-litre V8, including the 270km/h top speed and a 0-100km/h dash in just 4.5 seconds.

There is also lots of safety gear — eight airbags, rear cross-traffic, lane keeping and radar cruise control. Standard equipment runs from heated and ventilated front seats to a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio.

And yet, as I found in New York, the car is more show than go. At a private racetrack I was happier in the V6 — the F-car felt heavy and ponderous and wanted to push straight ahead in most corners.

I'm hoping things will be better at home and I'm happy as I slide into the comfy driver's bucket and find good room for a two-plus-two coupe, as well as lots of Lexus luxury and a nifty switch that toggles between three driving modes. I slot into S-for-sport, leaving Sport+ for later, and get going.

Except I don't. The V8 might have lots of go, but it only comes once you have more than 4000rpm on board and that's pretty anti-social where I'm going.

It rides very well and it's quiet and the quality is as impressive as any Lexus

The eight-speed auto also seems good, with a ratio for every occasion, but the response is too slow and the shifts are not crisp enough.

Put it all together and you get a car that's the opposite of the latest turbo-powered opposition. They are "on" all the time with abundant bottom-end torque, and fun a lot of the time. However, the Lexus needs stirring and that gets tiring.

All right, it rides very well and it's quiet and the quality is as impressive as any Lexus. I also like the weight of the controls, and the reversing camera and the space in the rear for the five-year-old and his stuff.

But I truly hate the multimedia control, which uses a touch pad that I'm always bumping at the wrong moment. I never seem to get the right touch at the right time unless I'm parked, even if it's just changing the FM channel, because the slightest movement in the suspension affects my input. Frustrated does not remotely cover it.

And that's how I feel about the rest of the RC F package. I'm frustrated because the engine is so good and sounds so great at the top end but is unresponsive when I really want it to go.

I'm frustrated because the chassis is good but not nearly as sharp as Mercedes-AMG or a BMW M car, or as strong on the brakes, or as responsive on a driving road.

Yes, it looks good and the finish is good and the value is good.

Verdict

Would I recommend it ahead of a bunch of other cars? No way. The Tick is not coming this way today.

Pricing guides

$45,990
Based on 21 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$31,980
Highest Price
$76,000

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
RC F 5.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $52,800 – 66,770 2015 Lexus RC 2015 RC F Pricing and Specs
RC F Carbon 5.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $66,000 – 83,490 2015 Lexus RC 2015 RC F Carbon Pricing and Specs
RC350 F Sport 3.5L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $35,700 – 46,200 2015 Lexus RC 2015 RC350 F Sport Pricing and Specs
RC350 Luxury 3.5L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $31,400 – 41,140 2015 Lexus RC 2015 RC350 Luxury Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6
Pricing Guide

$31,980

Lowest price, based on 19 car listings in the last 6 months

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