2020 Lexus RC F Review

A gentleman's grand touring car with attitude


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Looks like nothing else on the road, built like Fort Knox, naturally-aspirated V8 sound great and moves the car with authority, one of the best interiors on the planet.
Negatives: Still crappy infotainment system betrays the car, heft is felt in the turns.
Bottom Line: The RC F is one of the best grand tourers in the industry. Not only does it cruise with ease, it's also a head-turner not often seen on the road. It's one of Lexus' best cars, despite the painful infotainment controls.
Lexus sells a handful of RCs every year, and even fewer RC Fs. BUt that doesn't diminish from how attractive, well-appointed, powerful, and well-made Lexus's sporty GT coupe is. It carries forward into 2020 with a few changes, including some minor styling tweaks to make it look more cohesive. Additionally, intake has been adjusted so the big V8 gets a bump in both horsepower and torque (467 to 472 horses, 389 to 395 lb-ft). Lexus also lowered the RC F's weight and given it suspension retuning, and standard launch control. The car's weight has been reduced, and its suspension has been retuned. We drove the RC F in base trim for a week to see if it still makes us smile the way it did last year.
 

Driving Experience

8.8

 

Count on Lexus to make their heavy grand touring performance car feel bit more agile and responsive. The difference in acceleration isn't that noticeable, but the overall driving experience is slightly improved. We also laud the presence of the naturally-aspirated V8, an engine you don't find much anymore in the world of rampant turbocharged 4s and 6s.

Ride Quality: The retuned suspension feels more refined, and ride quality doesn't suffer. It's still on the firm side, but the RC F feels so solid, it doesn't matter.

Acceleration: We love the sonorous engine and the quick automatic transmission with paddle shifters. 0-60 is about four seconds, which is plenty fast but not the podium finisher in the segment.

Braking: The powerful Brembo brakes manage stopping duties of this heavy GT car very well, and pedal feel was excellent.

Steering: Steering has some good effort but lacks feedback. It's precise and on-center, giving it effortless turning and high-speed, straight-line duties.

Handling: Suspension tuning equates to a more nimble feel than last year, and the adaptive suspension works well on just about any road surface. You do feel the heft of the RC F, but it's kept in check as long as you don't try to autocross it.

Technology

6

 

The infotainment system is easily the RC F's Achilles heel. While it looks nice, its operation is far from satisfying. Lexus really needs to go back to the drawing board and provide something that can contend with BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and even Genesis..

Infotainment System: The vivid 10.3-inch screen is standard on the RC F, partnered with Siri Eyes Free, Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi, Alexa, Voice Command, and Google Voice. Menus are a bit dated looking, and the overall appearance could use a cleaner design.

Controls: HVAC temp sliders and audio knobs/buttons are too small for our liking, and we still hate the touchpad for infotainment because it's just not precise. 9 times out of ten, we miss what we want to select on the screen because the touchpad is too vague.

Styling

8.7

 

The busyness of the front and rear fascias from 2019 have been cleaned up, and the difference is noticeable. We like the changes made to the headlights and taillights, especially.

Front: The new headlight shape loses the overly complex shape and moves the pointy daytime running lights from just below the headlights to a single unit with the headlights. We also like the addition of the carbon fiber front splitter, which makes the RC F look more fearsome.

Rear: The staggered tailpipes, thankfully stay, while the taillights incorporate a long L-shaped element and lose the complex inner edge, replaced by a clean taper. The change definitely gives the RC F a wider appearance from behind, better for a powerful rear-wheel drive car.

Profile: The new twin-spoke black alloy wheels look great with the Brembo brakes peeking through. We also love the long hood and the F model brake vents just behind the front wheels.

Cabin: The contrast leather sport bucket seats look beautiful, and the interior is well-made. We just can't get past the overly bulky and busy center stack that needs to be refreshed soon.

Comfort

9.3

 

For two occupants, the RC F is very comfortable thanks to superb seats and high-grade materials. Good luck getting anyone to sit in the almost useless back seats.

Front Seats: Lexus, in general, makes some of the best seats in the business. The huge front bucket seats in the RC F are deep, supportive, and seriously comfortable.

Rear Seats: My 8-year old daughter fit there just fine but there was no one in the front seat, as I had to slide it all the way forward. No adult should sit back there, and forget about transporting four people.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Other than the growl of the V8 piped in through the stereo system, the RC F is quiet and solid throughout.

Visibility: Visibility out the front and sides are pretty good for a sporty coupe, but the sightlines out the back are compromised by a thick pillar and a tall rear deck.

Climate: Vents are small, but airflow in the RC F are good. The optional heated and cooled seats were responsive, too.

Safety

9.8

 

From 2015-2018, the RC and RC F achieved top scores, which they still actually do in each test category, but the IIHS didn't give it the Top Safety Pick + score for 2019 and 2020. We're not quite sure why, but it's still one of the safest sports coupes out there.

IIHS Rating: The IIHS gave the RC and RC F scores of "good" in crash tests and "superior" in Crash avoidance & mitigation.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The RC F comes with a fusillade of features in the Lexus Safety System+ that includes a Pre-Collision System w/ Pedestrian Detection, High-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Intelligent High Beam headlights, and Lane Departure Alert w/ Steering Assist. This year, a Backup Camera with Dynamic Gridlines also comes standard.

Optional Tech: Our tester came with a Blind Spot Monitor w/ Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Intuitive Park Assist.

Storage/Cargo

6

 

A weekend trip isn't out of the question, but you'll have to pack light. The interior isn't commodious for gear, and the trunk is on the small side.

Storage Space: Small door pockets, a small top dash tray in front of the infotainment screen, a small armrest, and cupholders are your only storage options. Leave the larger items out of the cabin.

Cargo Room: The trunk doesn't swallow a lot of luggage with only 10.1 cubic feet of space. The load floor is flat, and the trunk opens wide, at least.

Fuel Economy

5.8

 

Don't expect a big V8 and a hefty curb weight to equate to a miserly thirst for fuel. We experienced rather unimpressive gas mileage, but that didn't surprise us since we drove it in Sport+ mode most of the time.

Observed: 14.9 mpg

Audio

9.2

 

We really do love Mark Levinson systems found in price Lexus models. Our tester came with the $2,275, 17-speaker Mark Levinson system, and it delivered superior sound with ample bass, excellent clarity, and zero distortion. We think the extra price is worth it.



Final Thoughts

The RC F is for the distinguished older buyer who wants to cruise in style while reserving the right to enjoy a higher level of performance in a well-priced GT car. While not as prevalent as the BMW M4 or the Merc-AMG C63, it's still very desirable thanks to its powerful V8 and impeccable construction. Styling tweaks give it a better look, and the bank-vault feel is almost unmatched for the price.
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