Lexus isn’t your boring luxury car company any longer. Things have changed in a big way the past few years, and Toyota’s luxury division is now on par with the German brands when it comes to performance cars. This was the goal when Akio Toyoda took over, and he’s given the brand a new identity. This new identity is apparent in Lexus’ product line today, including the 2019 Lexus RC F.
This week, we checked out the latest version of the RC F and we were not disappointed.
There aren’t many changes for 2019, but the RC does get a limited 10th Anniversary Edition package. Highlights include Matte Nebula Gray paint, blue Brembo brake calipers, black 19-inch BBS forged wheels, and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Only 240 vehicles in the United States received the package.
Features & Options: Tech & Safety
Our 2019 Lexus RC F Sport tester ($64,650) came standard with LED headlights, automatic high beams, auto-dimming mirrors, and adjustable drive modes. The Lexus Display Audio interface pairs with a seven-inch screen and knob controller for the infotainment and climate settings. The RC F is standard with Scout GPS Link, a USB port, and a 10-speaker sound system with HD and satellite radio, and a CD player. Other features include power-adjustable front seats with memory settings, simulated leather upholstery, a power-adjustable steering wheel, and a rearview camera.
Safety tech includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane keeping assist (Lexus Safety System+ package). Lexus Enform Safety Connect is complimentary for the first 10 years of ownership and gives you access to response centers during an emergency. Automatic collision notification, an emergency assist button, and a stolen vehicle locator gave us the most peace of mind.
Features & Options: Safety & Style
This RC F tester included the Premium package ($3,240), adding blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, automatic wipers, auto-dimming side mirrors, parking sensors, heated and ventilated front seats, and carbon-fiber interior trim. There’s also the Performance package ($5,500) with a torque-vectoring rear differential, carbon-fiber roof, and a speed-activated, carbon-fiber rear spoiler.
The navigation system ($2,725) came with the Remote Touch interface (a 10.3-inch screen and touchpad controller), two USB ports, voice controls, a 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, and six-CD/DVD changer. Upgraded LED headlights, leather upholstery, 19-inch hand-polished BBS 20-spoke alloy wheels, and orange Brembo brake calipers were among the stand-alone options.
Total MSRP including destination: $80,900. By comparison, the 2019 Lexus RC F starts at $47,860.
The RC F cabin is practical yet contemporary with unique, sharp curves and angles that match the sport coupe’s exterior design. A protruding curved dash reminds us of the sporty front end that you either love or hate. The F Spec Sport front seats hugged us tight, working especially well during our more spirited driving through mountain corners. The leather seats with the optional Premium package are ventilated for extra comfort. We used them liberally as temperatures reached near 90 degrees in Denver this week.
What we don’t like is the Lexus knob controller on the tech interface. It’s still too difficult just changing the radio channel. Once we did find the right station, the optional Mark Levinson premium sound system is excellent, providing clear audio that doesn’t distort with volume. We cranked the 835-watt, 17-speaker system up and kept the noisy world outside while we jammed.
Those using the RC F for their daily commute will appreciate the numerous predictive traffic data features offered through the navigation system. Likewise, the Lexus Enform App Suite eases those longer commutes, allowing access to popular apps like iHeartRadio, Slacker, and Yelp. However, the RC F isn’t the car for you if you need to haul adults regularly. The backseat is small and useful really just for storage but could accommodate two small children.
A sweet-sounding, 5.0-liter V8 that pumps out an impressive 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft. of torque powers the 2019 Lexus RC F. The naturally-aspirated engine uses a combination of direct injection and port fuel injectors to achieve a 12.3:1 compression ratio. The V8 is mated to an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift gearbox with paddle shifters for those wanting to shift manually.
The fuel mileage for the RC F is an EPA-estimated 16/25 city/highway and 19 combined mpg. You can probably achieve that if you keep your foot out of it.
Driving Dynamics: A Word of Caution
You will want the 2019 Lexus RC F if you enjoy driving fast! Once you step on the gas, all 467 horses come to life. On the high-performance meter, it pegs! You need to be careful; the RC F is explosive and can get you in trouble quickly, especially on wet or slick surfaces. The summer performance tires are meant for just that, summer. This is not a car for those who live in colder climates!
Driving Dynamics: Sweet, Sweet Sounds
The RC F was developed at places like Fuji Speedway in Japan and the legendary Nürburgring in Germany. We could tell as we swept through the mountain corners near Denver this week. The RC F’s torque-vectoring differential changes left-right torque distribution within 1/1000th of a second, based on the throttle, braking, yaw rate, and longitudinal and lateral G-forces. Combine that with the Linear Adaptive Variable Suspension and SPORT S+ mode, and you have one of the most fun sports cars on the market today.
But the best part? When we stomped on the gas, the sound generator that pipes engine noise into the cabin filled our ears with an amazing exhaust note. When we needed to stop, the Brembo brakes halted us just as quickly as we took off.
Conclusion: A Worthy Competitor
The 2019 Lexus RC F is able to challenge the best luxury performance coupes in the world. It makes a statement that Lexus can bring serious performance to the game. Lexus also has strong quality and reliability ratings, something the competitors don’t always have.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his firsthand reviews are archived on our test drives page. Follow Denis on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy