When does getting an F mean you’ve really done something special? My tester this week shows that F doesn’t stand for fail, but rather signifies superiority. The 2015 Lexus RC-F is a brand new vehicle in the Lexus family. And, amongst every Lexus I’ve ever driven (and that’s a lot), this is the best one ever. No exaggeration here or hyperbole. This two-door sport coupe is amazing.

The RC-F is a variant of the more subdued RC350, which in and of itself is a nice car. There’s only one thing wrong with the RC350, and that is it doesn’t have that all important letter F with it, which takes it from being nice to being special.

Exterior

0905140741332015_Lexus_RC_F_024Even on looks the RC-F differentiates itself from the more conservative, play-it-safe fleet of Lexus. A chiseled overall exterior is refined and aggressive at the same time. The RC-F has the standard Lexus grille giving it familiarity, but it slopes aggressively toward the hood in such a sexy aerodynamic way. LED head lights contain sharp angles which flow with the rest of the RC-F’s exterior. A carbon-fiber roof panel really drives home the point that this is a Lexus built for speed. And if that wasn’t already evident the back is highlighted by a speed activated rear spoiler when the vehicle gets set into motion – ready for launch.

And launch it will – to the tune of 467 horsepower.

Engine / Performance

Under the hood lies a 5.0-liter V8 engine with direct injection. And 8-speed automatic transmission keeps the shifting fast and controlled. Each gear shift the engine seems to beckon for more pressure on the accelerator. This is a Lexus with a need for speed, and a design and engine to provide it.

The rest of the engine is sport tuned for high performance. A double-wishbone suspension is unique to the RC-F and gives a firm feel of the road. This isn’t a smooth, quiet, controlled Lexus that many are used to. There’s nothing conservative about the performance of the RC-F. Feel every bump, hug every turn, this is a roller coaster with a Lexus badge on it.

Aluminum calipers, high-friction brake pads and Brembo brakes show this car is a speed demon and track ready. In fact, at an event this past spring, I actually got to take my tester on the Road America track in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. I was with a professional driver who showed me what that car can really do, and left with my heart pumping and the hairs on my arm standing up.

Interior

0905140731332015_Lexus_RC_F_006Inside is a perfect combination of standard Lexus comfort and street racing amenities. “F” Spec racing seats are decked out in full leather. Generally, I dislike most racing seats as they are too hugging and uncomfortable. However the seats in the RC-F were the most comfortable racing seats I’ve experienced, although still not as comfortable most seats in other Lexus vehicles.

Other interior highlights include a leather wrapped steering wheel, with corresponding paddle shifters. Ambient lighting helps add accent and luxury to the RC-F. The sport gauges light up in a very sexy way at night, giving the RC-F a beautiful night time appearance. I love when car engineers put thought into giving a vehicle some personality in daytime as well as night time.

The only real knock on the RC-F, is a knock on almost all new Lexuses. Controlling the infotainment system has always been a little cumbersome with the joystick that came with previous generation Lexus vehicles. So, Lexus heard that criticism and proceeded to make it even worse by incorporating a new touchpad. You have to run your fingers on this touchpad to move over various controls (entertainment, navigation, ventilation). It is incredibly touchy and becomes quite distracting for the driver. To say it’s not intuitive (a phrase I use a lot) is an understatement. It is so bad it pulls away from the enjoyment of the rest of the RC-F. Hopefully Toyota engineers go back to the drawing board and continue to rework this system.

The back seat of this sports coupe is almost unusable. Even my teenage daughter couldn’t fit comfortably back there, so treat the RC-F as a great vehicle for one or two people only and there will be no complaints!

Fuel Economy

For a V8 engine and sports car, the RC-F has reasonable fuel economy. The RC-F has an EPA rating of 16 mpg/city and 25 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of completely inefficient driving (read into that whatever you want), I averaged 19 mpg.

Pricing

The RC-F has no other trim options and standard equipment includes 19-inch performance tires, telescoping/tilting steering wheel, heated seats and a 10-speaker sound system. My tester in the gorgeous Ultrasonic Blue paint coat, came with other options including 20-spoke forged alloys, advanced sound and navigation system, cooled front seats, carbon fiber interior trim, and safety features like blind spot monitoring and cross traffic alert system.

Standard MSRP of the RC-F is $62,400. With all those extras my tester had a final sticker price of $73,760.

The four-passenger, rear wheel drive Lexus RC-F shows that Toyota’s luxury brand hasn’t forgotten how to make a vehicle exciting. They just have to give themselves an F, and then they’ll go to the head of the class!

Specs

2015 Lexus RC-F

Price/As tested price…………………. $62,400/$73,760

Mileage…………………………………. 16 city/25 highway

Engine…………………………………… 5.0-liter V8

Horsepower…………………………… 467 horsepower/389 lb./ft.

Transmission…………………………… Eight-speed automatic

Drive Wheels…………………………. Rear-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point………………… Tahara, Japan

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Jimmy Dinsmore

For several years Jimmy Dinsmore has reviewed new vehicles, offering up a unique look and an interesting voice in his weekly column. Jimmy looks at vehicles from the consumer’s point of view. Light on the technical jargon, and lacking the cynicism that pervades many other auto reviews, Driver’s Side treats each vehicle fairly, offering a light-hearted take. Email him at - [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @driversside.

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