2020 Lexus RC F – IT’s Better Than Ever, But Is That Good Enough?

The Lexus RC- F is Lexus’ take on what a luxury sport coupe should be, a two-door blend of comfort Lexus customers are accustomed to, and sports car handling wrapped up in good looks. For 2019 the RC-F got a facelift and a little more horsepower. In my last review of the RC-F, I called it a jungle cat with a gem under the hood.

EXTERIORIMG_0727
This thing looks like it would pick a fight with you at a bar, or maybe kick sand in your face at the beach. Look-at-me yellow paint and angular body lines create an aggressive aesthetic for the 2020 RC-F. The roof is carbon fiber, as is the dynamic spoiler which up and down according to the car’s speed. You can also operate it with a button on  the dash so you can flex on posers at red lights. 

IMG_0677Front and center is that crazy Lexus grille. I’ve found the lower it is to the ground the less absurd it looks. The LC500 for example looks exceptional with it. The “check mark” headlights of the previous gen were ditched in favor of these one-piece LEDs. The 19 inch hand-polished BBS are stunning and allow those big Brembo brake calipers to peek through. However, the orange paint on the calipers is a questionable color decision next to the yellow body color and is a $300 dollar option I might omit if I was ordering one for me. But that’s picking nits. 

IMG_0726The fender vents behind the front wheels let everyone know you’ve got the goods under the hood. Out back, diagonally stacked exhaust outlets make this car look as good going as it does coming.

INTERIORIMG_0731Some materials in the RC-F are sort of a letdown. Lexus uses foamy feeling shift boot and plasticy “leather” for the shift boot around the gear selector and on either side of the console. However, you can look all day and not find a seam that’s not laser straight. The blue and white contrasting thread looks beautiful. Seats are dead comfortable especially given the low-slung sporty nature of the car.

IMG_0742The fit and finish in the cabin is exceptional. The RC-F’s interior is adorned with carbon fiber and aluminum accents, but it doesn’t feel over the top. Even the requisite luxury-car analog clock doesn’t feel too out of place.

IMG_0734The Mark Levinson audio system pumps tunes through 17 speakers stuffed into the car. There’s a large infotainment screen in the dash controlled by the touchpad mounted in the console.  It’s also too distracting to use while driving.  All the amenities one comes to expect in a luxury car are present, radar cruise, rain-sensing wipers, blind-spot monitoring and a bevy of other features. 

IMG_0751

THE DRIVE

The V8 in this car sounds lovely. Punch it from a stand still and you’ll get to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. That’s quick. Acceleration smooth and determined. Lexus engineers give drivers the option to completely disable the traction control and vehicle stability (thank you engineers). The 2020 has a launch control feature that, in spite of watching a handful of Youtube videos, I couldn’t make heads or tails of. The excellent throttle response, precision steering, and high-tech differential keep things from going too wayward. In the bends this car has grip. On the highway the car is quiet and refined.

THE DIRT

The RC-F has changed. This is a better car than the one I reviewed in 2017. Back then, I likened it to an apex predator. As I drove it I kept a hungry eye out for ‘Vettes who might want to test their mettle. However, while this car has improved immeasurably, the landscape has changed. This RC-F, with all these goodies, will set buyers $89,000. That’s for a pretty car that’s certainly pretty quick. But can you imagine the sad empty feeling in the pit of your stomach when you pull up the the light and get embarrassed by a Dodge grocery getter that costs practically half what you’ve signed up to pay? That’s a legitimate possibility. The Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack actually edges out the RC-F’s 0-60 time with a base price around $45k. Ouch.

And as far as hunting Vettes goes, forget about it. The 2020 C8 Corvette is a purpose build murder machine with hyper car speed. When equipped with the Z51 performance package, it’ll get to 60 in under three seconds. It looks outrageous. It will smoke anything on the road. It has more horsepower and costs about $30,000 less than the RC-F. Thirty grand!

So, while the RC-F has improved, I’m afraid Lexus would have to go back to the drawing board to compete. I don’t understand this car. I don’t know who it’s for. It’s aggressive and remarkable but it’s not the best at anything. It’s also terribly expensive. The takeaway: if you want one, don’t doll it up with all the chintzy tinsel. At the base price of $65k this car makes a little more sense, and you won’t be counting how many payments you have left as you watch domestic cars pulling on you.

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Car guy, small business owner, award-winning writer and proud papa.

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