Winnipeg Free Press

The Lexus RC F is a sports car built the old-fashioned way

by Germain Goyer . Apr 26 2019
Germain Goyer / LC MediaAs much as it is comfortable and driver-friendly on the road, the 2020 Lexus RC F proves competent on the track.

Germain Goyer / LC Media

As much as it is comfortable and driver-friendly on the road, the 2020 Lexus RC F proves competent on the track.

The Lexus RC F has been around since 2015 and was starting to show its age. For 2020, this Japanese luxury coupe benefits from a number of improvements. But don’t get too excited: only a keen eye will be able to notice them.

While Lexus doesn’t have the same long-standing tradition as the German makes that it’s been going up against since 1989, the RC F is a sports car built the old-fashioned way.

Forget turbos and superchargers: under the hood is a naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V-8 engine that produces 472 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque.

Acceleration in the Lexus RC F could hardly be stronger. What’s more, natural aspiration makes for a completely unbridled engine sound, although it’s not the same in the cockpit as when you step outside. I would have liked to hear the big V-8 growl a bit more clearly.

Unfortunately, the RC F is not old school enough to offer a manual transmission, which means you have to make do with an eight-speed autobox.

As much as it is comfortable and driver-friendly on the road, the 2020 Lexus RC F proved competent on the track. In Sport+ mode, the response from the engine and transmission is super-quick, while steering is flawlessly precise.

For the tiny number of owners who will hit the tarmac, a firmer suspension setup is a must. Luckily, the company says the car is more rigid in the back.

The addition of launch control allows the car to sprint from 0-96 km/h in just 4.1 seconds. It’s fantastic when you want to put on a show, but totally useless for most RC F buyers.

An Audi RS5, BMW M4 or Mercedes-Benz C 63 S AMG would be more exciting and prestigious. But consider that the Lexus RC F has proven to be exceptionally reliable.

When you fork over $80,000-plus for a car, it shouldn’t keep you up at night due to reliability concerns. In the most recent J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, Lexus ranked first, way ahead of BMW (seventh) and Mercedes-Benz (13th).

On the flip side, the RC F will cost you a lot of money at the pump.

That big V-8 engine is rated by Natural Resources Canada at 15.2 L/100 km in the city, 9.5 L/100 km on the highway and 12.6 L/100 km combined.

Rather than sending journalists out on the open road for several hundred kilometres, Lexus invited us to the Willow Springs race track, where most of the testing would take place.

Not content with refreshing the RC F for 2020, Lexus also created a Track Edition that’s even lighter, more radical and more exclusive. Around 10 units will be sold in Canada.

You can recognize this limited model with its fixed carbon-fibre rear wing (the base RC F has an active rear wing), 19-inch BBS forged-alloy wheels and carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes.

Carbon fibre is also used for the roof, hood and seats.

The RC F Track Edition is a 10th of a second faster from 0-96 km/h. And at $119,950, there’s a pretty big gap in pricing with the standard version, which starts at $85,000.

The payoff is a more liberating experience on the track, since the various driver-assist features are less intrusive and allow more tail wagging. Prepare to work a little bit harder if you want to look good behind the wheel.

— LC Media