2021 Lexus RC F new car reviews

Photography Courtesy Lexus

Built on a chassis related to the IS, the RC (“Radical Coupe” in Lexus-talk) comes in a few different levels of spice, with the hottest being the RC F–excluding the Track Edition, of course.

Whereas the more pedestrian versions of the RC come powered by a V6 good for upwards of 311 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft of torque, the RC F adds two more cylinders to the equation, bringing that power output to 472 horsepower and 395 lb.-ft. of torque.

On paper, the RC F sounds potent, but what is it like in the real world? Keep reading to find out.

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J.G. Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

The RC F is both more and less extreme than it first seems, and this minor identity crisis could be what keeps the car from being a more mainstream contender in the performance coupe segment.

Make no mistake, it’s a great car, but I think a strong case could be made that the RC F—not a rebadged BMW Z4 with a hardtop—should have been Toyota’s next Supra. In fact, the RC F feels exactly like the Lexus version of whatever the Supra would have been. It feels for all the world like a luxurious version of a far sportier and more edgy car.

It’s hard to say that a car’s civility is its downfall, but you hardly even notice the RC F until you lean on it. Tip far enough into the throttle and the 475 horsepower V8 starts to snarl a bit, the fancy leather pressing into your back and providing support, rather than simple swaddling.

Dial back the aggression, though, and the car simply evaporates. Sure, it’s lovely, and comfortable, and loaded with options and technology as all Lexi are, but its mild side doesn’t have nearly the same character as its wild side.

The looks can be polarizing—especially the current giant sandworm mouth that Lexus uses as a grille—but the proportions are fairly inarguable. From the outside, the RC F has the stance and presence of the best of BMW’s 3- or 4-Series coupes, or the Camaro, or the Mustang, or, indeed, the A80 Supra. It’s muscular, but very much not a sports car. It’s more the platonic ideal of “sports coupe.”

[Classic Cool: Toyota Supra]

While the version we tested wasn’t the Track Edition, which sheds nearly 200 lbs. from the normal RC F’s 3800-ish lb. curb weight while adding a bit more power and suspension tuning, you can absolutely feel the chassis begging for that package. Steering is direct and the ratio is well-suited for performance work, but there’s a layer of separation between the driver and the road anywhere under 90% that doesn’t seem necessary.

Even with a bit more road feel at lower cornering speeds, it’s still going to be comfortable as hell. I mean, it’s a Lexus. You could put slicks on it and it’s still probably going to be pretty comfortable.

Somewhere in one of the alternate universes, there’s a bunch of these fantastic coupes running around with Lexus RC F badges on them, while the Track Edition—except with grippy cloth or Alcantara seats instead of leather—wears Toyota Supra nametags.

That’s the brightest timeline.

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Comments
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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
8/2/21 8:49 a.m.

If I were the speculative type, I'd say the reason why Toyota didn't re-badge the RC as a Supra is because they figured that the new car had to have an inline-six under the hood.

As much (unwarranted) flak as the Supra got at launch from message boards the world over, I'd bet it would have been just as bad–if not worse–had the car been powered by a V6 or a V8.

calteg
calteg Dork
8/2/21 9:02 a.m.

The reason the A80 Supra was wildly popular (aside from its timeless shape) is because it had a bulletproof Toyota drivetrain. The drivetrain in the current Supra is neither. If I wanted the maintenance nightmare associated with BMWs TTI6, I'll get a 135 and at least have a cheaper initial buy in.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
8/2/21 10:51 a.m.

In reply to calteg :

Along those lines, interesting that neither the Supra nor 86 have Toyota engines. 

Carbon (Forum Supporter)
Carbon (Forum Supporter) UberDork
8/2/21 11:15 a.m.
David S. Wallens said:

In reply to calteg :

Along those lines, interesting that neither the Supra nor 86 have Toyota engines. 

Not interesting, sad. Strange to me that a culture where honor is such a big deal, doesn't frown upon jobbing out your flagship sportscar. Imagine for a moment what it would be like if the new vette or mustang was a rebodied something else. People would Filp Out. 

calteg
calteg Dork
8/2/21 12:51 p.m.

In reply to Carbon (Forum Supporter) :

For better or worse, Toyota realized that the cultural "design by comittee" doesn't work for radical vehicles like sports cars. Unfortunately their solution was to outsource drivetrains to partners with questionable reliability. I feel like they would have been better served outsourcing the styling or contracting Lotus for suspension work. If I'm buying a Toyota, I expect Toyota reliability.

ClearWaterMS
ClearWaterMS New Reader
8/2/21 1:42 p.m.

What does it say about the audience that every comment (up to this point) on an article about The RC-F is about the Toyota Supra?  

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
8/2/21 2:59 p.m.

In reply to ClearWaterMS :

Touche. I'll take responsibility for that one since I was following up on the point that JG made in his review. smiley

If anyone has any questions on specs or wants more pics, let me know and I can raid the Lexus media site.

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture UltimaDork
8/2/21 3:15 p.m.

I have wanted to like the newer RC and IS very badly but they are just under 4,000 lbs. That is a lot of mass to haul around for a "compact" class car. The BMW 3/4, Genesis G70, and other such competitors all manage to undercut the Lexii on weight by a few hundred pounds for equivalent trim levels/drivetrains...otherwise I'd be interested in an RC or IS with the 2.0 turbo.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/2/21 3:36 p.m.

I want an LC 500 tin top. 

calteg
calteg Dork
8/2/21 4:23 p.m.

In reply to dean1484 :

The LC500 is what the SC430 aspires to be when it grows up. I love the lines of the LC...I just don't want to fork over $100,000+ for one.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
8/2/21 7:51 p.m.

Huh, this is my first time seeing the RC compared to the Supra. I gotta admit, it makes a lot of sense. Mk4 Supra was like 3400 lbs. Not exactly light. The SC300 (remember it's the luxury version) was around 3700 lbs, and the RC350 is not much more than that. Bulletproof Toyota 6 cylinder engine that's also used in a Lotus is pretty cool in my book. I love the 2GR and think it would make a great Supra engine. Just like the SC of days last, the RC has a 6 and 8 cylinder option. I can only imagine what a Toyota version of the RC could have weighed, and what it could have looked like...any renderings out there? 

maschinenbau
maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
8/2/21 7:53 p.m.

Also, someone should 2GR swap a 86...just sayin

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
8/2/21 9:10 p.m.

Great point about Lotus. If anyone is really jonesing for a lightweight sports car with a bulletproof Toyota drivetrain, just buy an Evora. 

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/3/21 8:30 a.m.
calteg said:

In reply to dean1484 :

The LC500 is what the SC430 aspires to be when it grows up. I love the lines of the LC...I just don't want to fork over $100,000+ for one.

I have been watching them and they can be had for $70k or so now. 

Countingcrowbars
Countingcrowbars UltraDork
8/3/21 3:06 p.m.
Colin Wood said:

If I were the speculative type, I'd say the reason why Toyota didn't re-badge the RC as a Supra is because they figured that the new car had to have an inline-six under the hood.

As much (unwarranted) flak as the Supra got at launch from message boards the world over, I'd bet it would have been just as bad–if not worse–had the car been powered by a V6 or a V8.

It would've been haled genius to have a V-6 in there. Especially a Toyota V6

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/3/21 3:53 p.m.

Because this thread needs pix  :-)

LC 500 Tin Top

Gorgeous 2018 Lexus LC 500 redefines Lexus style

 

LC 500 Convertible

See the Stunning 2021 Lexus LC 500 V-8 Convertible Here

 

calteg
calteg Dork
8/4/21 8:37 a.m.

It also bugged me that the "base" RC-F was just barely faster than a decade old IS-F, despite a considerable HP advantage.

Shaun
Shaun GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/12/21 5:30 p.m.

That there is a "track edition" of this car strikes me as pretty odd, but apparently several numbers were crunched and after many meetings it apparently... exists, while they are trying to sell Supras?  It just occurred to me as Im typing I might be seeing JG's point from the another perspective.

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