Stick Shift: 2019 Lexus RCF

The RC line from Lexus has incredible design, enticing performance and buckets of personality. Add an ‘F’ to the badge and the entire car moves up to a whole new league. What does the extra dough really get you? Here are some big differences between the regular blend Lexus RC and and the high performing RCF.

Engine:

Unlike the somewhat dull 2.0 I-4. Or even the far more capable 3.5 V6 in the standard RC models. The RCF totes a big, naturally aspirated, 467 hp 5.0 V8. This engine is designed for low weight and high responsiveness. To briefly summarize, It’s a joy to bring to redline over and over again. It seems to have been quieted a little from previous years. Maybe to allow the new LC 500 more room to stand out and shine. Slightly silenced though it may be, the V8 still emits a scintillating soundtrack from the Lexus F trademark stacked tailpipes. The deep baritone can be further amplified by the Active Sound Control (ASC) which electronically boosts the sound into the cabin through the audio speakers. Good as it sounds, and track tuned as it may be, the RCF still suffers from a weight problem. This results in acceleration that is good, but still falling behind the competition.

Transmission: 

A fast-responding eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission wonderfully compliments the V8. Shifts are fired off in ultra-fast fashion. Day to day drivability is great and acceleration is smooth and linear. Through the monitoring of various vehicle sensors, the intelligent G Force AI shift controller enhances the driving experience by anticipating and selecting the most appropriate gear for aggressive driving. This same G Force system will blip the throttle during hard downshifts to perfectly match revs and deliver smooth transition between gears during deceleration. 

Driving Modes: 

Normal, Eco and Sport modes all make an appearance, but the Sport Plus driving mode will squeeze the most performance from the RCF. In this mode, steering tightens through the Electronic Power Steering system to deliver a precise driving feel. Throttle settings sharpen the engines responsiveness and the 8-speed will hold high gears for as long as you’d like without stepping in to ruin the fun. 

Photo by: Brandon Randall

Handling:

The 2019 Lexus RCF was developed on some of the worlds most demanding race tracks, Amongst them are Fuji Speedway in Japan and the Nurburgring in Germany. As a result, the new Lexus RCF has racing pedigree infused in its very sheetmetal. The RC platform is already very rigid, but Lexus added extra braces and stronger suspension member mounts to the RCF to enhance steering response, body roll feel and optimize traction. An adaptive variable suspension is fine tuned to improve stability and cornering. a Torsen Limited Slip Differential, combined with the optional Torque Vectoring Differential (TVD) are serious pieces of hardware. They combine with smart software to create serious automotive magic. 

In the new RCF, traction is tightly controlled and wheel spin kept in check. A switch on the center console allows the driver to toggle the TVD for Standard, Slalom and Track modes. Each make adjustments to offer better steering response, high speed handling stability or general agility for your everyday fun. All said, impressive hardware paired with track developed software make the 2019 Lexus RCFs’ driving mannerisms highly customizable with the simple turn of a dial. The adaptive suspension also allows bumpier roads to be more tolerable. Firmer settings and more aggressive driving modes should probably be saved for smoother roads though.

Styling:

To say the RCF is statement making would be an understatement. Sitting lower than the standard RC model, the RCF looks incredible with a carbon fiber rear wing and roof, wide 19” BBS wheels and LED lighting at all four corners. That beautifully stacked exhaust continues to impress, and fully functioning vents and aerodynamic add-ons help smooth out air flow and keep things cool. My model came in a retina assaulting Flare Yellow color. Assaulting in the nicest way possible. Most cars couldn’t pull off a yellow like that, the RCF had no trouble at all. 

On the inside, comfortable and supportive seats, and a sound insulated cabin fit the grand touring character of the RCF. Good for both long distance highway treks and adrenaline-filled laps around the local track. Materials are all high quality and instruments and controls are neatly arranged in the familiar horizontal Lexus fashion. 

Photo by: Brandon Randall

Summary: 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the newest RCF. It was hard to not be impressed with the dynamic V8 engine, striking good looks, sharp interior and sheer level of development and engineering that’s gone into the suspension and chassis. Everything melds together to provide a car that’s dynamic, exciting and flexible in a wide variety of driving situations. What’s holding the RCF back though is the fact that it tips the scale at over 4,000 pounds. So much weight creeps into every dynamic driving element of the RCF. As a sad result, the competition is able to out-accelerate, out-handle, and generally out-perform the RCF. Even so, with a lower cost of entry than most of the competition, that excellent Lexus build quality, and every other element that comes with the ‘F’ badge, the RCF presents a strong case for uncompromising fun.

Price as tested: $81,495.00

By: Brandon Randall

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