2017 Lexus RC F Carbon Review

2017 Lexus RC F Road Test, Review

Lexus made its name with luxurious, but quite conservative models, now cars like the Lexus RC F are here to spice things up.

Featuring a 351kW 5.0 litre V8 engine, big brakes, and light-weight carbon-fibre bonnet, roof and rear spoiler, the $158,500 price tag puts the performance coupe squarely up against rivals like the BMW M4.

The Carbon version is also about $20,000 more than a standard Lexus RC F (reviewed here).

So how does the Lexus stack up? Overall, I would say quite well - but there are some quirks and idiosyncrasies that might not be to everyone’s taste.

For example, the mouse pad type infotainment controls. Some people like it, I have never warmed to it.

There’s also a mix of old and new, conservative and flashy.

For example, you have an interior with carbon-fibre highlights, and in the case of my test car - bright red leather trim, a sporty steering wheel, and aluminium pedals.

All that to me says sports/fun, but then there’s a very traditional analog clock, foot operated park brake, and brushed alloy highlights that feel more at home in something like a Lexus ES, rather than the RC F.

I also thought it odd that there was blue stitching on the steering wheel and transmission selector, but that colour then didn’t feature anywhere else.

Normally, car companies pick a secondary colour on models like this, and use it extensively, with the Lexus, especially when factoring in the orange brake calipers, you’re a long way from that normal consistency/feel.

Is it wrong? It all depends on your taste I guess.

How’s the performance?

Well, I jumped straight out of the supercharged V6 Jaguar F-TYPE and into the Lexus - the difference is chalk and cheese.

The Lexus and its big 351kW/530Nm 5.0 litre naturally aspirated engine is more conservative/laid-back than the Jag (not surprising given the types of engines being compared).

It has the performance though to match the price tag and overall feel/look.

It also has that unmistakable V8 growl that we all know and love, but really this only comes on when the car is being driven with enthusiasm.

Being a V8 you can expect the big Lexus to be fairly thirsty - I average over 15L/100km in my week of predominantly city/suburban driving.

The eight-speed transmission is smooth and effectively finds the right gears for you when needed.

The brakes, six spot up front and four spot on the rear, are brilliant and the steering is near-on perfect.

While the Lexus engineers have done a great job with the ride and handling, it feels a big and chunky thing to drive around, but it grips nicely and is more than comfortable enough for everyday driving.

What about the interior?

Generally speaking I was happy with the Lexus RC F cabin, though to me it is the weak point of the car.

I already mentioned the mouse-pad infotainment controls, beyond that I’m not crazy about the slider-type temperature controls, and the whole centre control area feels and looks dull.

The seats, generally are very good, but there’s a bit too much side bolstering on the base for my liking and this impacts on comfort.

There’s enough room for adults in the rear for short trips, and only seating for four.

Rear 3/4 visibility is also less than terrific (as shown in the picture), this though is not something particular to this two-door coupe.

Cabin storage areas are also pretty small, though the centre console bin gets a pass mark.

Speaking of the centre console, there really isn’t a convenient/practical place to store your phone.

While the instrumental panel features a very small, very busy analog speedometer, I never once looked at this on the go - instead the digital speedometer is the more usable and practical of the two.

I like the driver info screen though, and the steering wheel controls for it are well-placed and easy to use. The screen also gives you the option to change settings such as switching on and off the speed-dependent rear wing.

Digital radio, heated and cooled seats, emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors and sat-nav are all included.

The Summary

In my opinion, the Lexus RC F doesn’t quite work. The reasons, as outlined above, surround the fact that this car is a lovely tourer with a glorious V8 engine under the bonnet.

The carbon-fibre body panels (especially on the white car) and (again, in the case of my test car) in your face red leather interior send the message that this is a hotted-up race car - but it has too much class to be a ‘boy racers’ delight.

Personally, I would prefer an RC F that maintains the sporty engine/drivetrain/brakes and suspension, but in a less bold and brash package.

You might disagree, if you do, feel free to leave a comment below.

NUTS and BOLTS - 2017 Lexus RC F Carbon

  • Engine: 5.0 litre V8 developing 351kW and 530Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Warranty: Three years
  • Safety: Five stars
  • Origin: Japan
  • Price: from $158,548

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