Lexus RC F Epitomizes the Modern GT

Chatham, Mass. – Three days of frustration on trying to figure out how to delete the plotted navigation route in the Lexus RC F, what button to push, resulted in nothing but frustration. So, I took a shot of desperation by pushing the “voice-command” button on the heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and said “end route.”

And it worked!

The voice-command system proved both easy and intuitive (“call home” and “route to . . . “ worked as desired) but getting the most out of the 2019 Lexus RC F takes some time. The two-door coupe we spent a week with is a tour de force of safety features, driver assists – like the voice command – and creature comforts surrounded by a low, angular steel and carbon-fiber skin.

Packed with premium features

For a buyer, the Lexus dealer would spend time going over the major systems during the delivery process, with this instruction backed up by a series of books including: the overall owner’s manual (636 pages), a quick guide to the owner’s manual (75 pages) and a navigation and multimedia system owner’s manual (264 pages).

Within the pages of these books are instructions on the systems included in our comprehensively equipped Lexus RC F:

  • Lexus Safety System +: pre-collision system with pedestrian detection; high-speed dynamic radar cruise control; intelligent high-beam headlamps; lane-departure alert with steering assist; eight airbags
  • Smart-stop technology
  • Apple Car Play
  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • Smart Access with push-button start
  • Auto dual-zone climate-control system
  • Backup monitor with guidelines
  • Power tilt/telescoping steering wheel
  • Power windows with one touch up/down
  • All-weather package: heated steering wheel; windshield deicer; headlamp cleaner
  • Leather-trimmed interior (seats)
  • Navigation system with Mark Levinson 17-speaker surround-sound audio system AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/DVD
  • Premium package: heated/ventilated front seats with driver-seat memory; carbon-fiber interior trim; blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert system; intuitive park assist; rain-sensing wipers; auto-dimming mirrors with memory; steering memory
  • Performance package: carbon-fiber roof; carbon-fiber, speed-activated rear wing; torque-vectoring rear differential

Quiet, smooth, comfortable and powerful

Learning what all these systems are capable of, which is a lot to make driving the car both more satisfying and safer, takes time and some studying. Like most education exercises, practical experience can help reinforce the printed word. And if the practical experience is obtained by driving the RC F, it is both enjoyable and rewarding.

Lurking under the long hood is a 5.0-liter, direct-injected V8 delivering its 472 horsepower through an eight-speed sport direct-shift transmission (with steering-wheel paddle shifters). A limited-slip rear differential helps keep the power on the road through 275/35R19 Michelin tires (235/35R19 in the front). The version we drove wrapped those tires around 19-inch hand-polished BBS 20-spoke forged-alloy wheels.

All of the pieces come together in a solid, comfortable ride; one made for cruising at speed down the highway. A photo of the Lexus RC F would be the perfect illustration accompanying the dictionary definition of a GT – Grand Tourer (Gran Turismo): “a car that is designed for high speed and long-distance driving, due to a combination of performance and luxury attributes. The most common format is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-door coupé with either a two-seat or a 2+2 arrangement.”

The Lexus is a 2+2 it is easy to enter the rear seats of the Lexus, but it is a +2 arrangement with the room limited to young children; anyone larger would need the occupants of the large, leather covered, heated and ventilated front seats to move them forward.

On the road

The Lexus simply devoured the miles as we traveled to Maine for the weekend, spending most of the trip on a series of highways. The driver assists, especially the lane-keeping alert, were a help as the quiet and comfortable cabin along with the boring view out the large windshield threatened to lull me into a stupor. But this was not an issue, as the loud alert sounded as soon as the coupe sensed a move near the lane markers on either side.

Lexus says the RC F reaches 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 4.2 seconds which my seat-of-pants experience does not dispute, but I did not try to achieve the claimed 168-miles-per-hour top speed.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency rated the car at 16 miles per gallon in urban driving, 24 highway and 19 combined. We averaged about 21 miles per gallon during our week with the coupe.

Around tight Kennebunkport during the late-summer weekend, driver assists like the rear cross-traffic alert and monitor as well as the intuitive parking assist proved invaluable. These systems overcame the sightline limitations of the low-slung coupe configuration.

And if I was distracted while creeping through the Maine town, huge Brembo brakes with pre-collision technology, including pedestrian detection, came to my rescue. The front featured ventilated 14.9-inch slotted rotors with bright orange six-piston opposed aluminum calipers. The rear orange aluminum calipers have four pistons in an opposed setup with slotted 13.5-inch rotors. High-friction pads are used both front and rear.

The price to play in this high-end coupe market is not insignificant, regardless of the brand chosen. Our Lexus RC F had a base price of $65,775 (including shipping). Optional packages including all weather; triple-beam headlights; those BBS wheels; navigation system; performance package and premium package bring the bottom line to $82,463. Not inexpensive, but the Lexus RC F delivers what is promised: luxury, safety, performance in a coupe which says just that to anyone who sees it – and thanks to its price – it adds a bit of exclusivity to the package.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.