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How the 2020 Lexus RC F Stole the Spotlight

A white 2020 Lexus RCF is parked on a white strip of pavement shown from above.

 

Today on AutoInfluence, we take a moment to appreciate the Lexus RC F…

When a hefty portion of your income comes from covering current auto news, developments and reveals, it’s all-too-easy to wave goodbye to a portion of every day, knowing that it will be dedicated to research. But for those of us with a genuine love of driving, there’s joy to be found in some of the conversations we get to have along that way, and in our free time. Fueled by the facts we acquire courtesy of our day job, there’s no shortage of territory to cover.

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who has always shared my appreciation for performance vehicles. As we’ve said more times than not, “if it’s not fun to drive what’s the point?” But our respective preferences in terms of vehicles have almost always differed. Long before our 2001 selves sat in a theater divided between a ‘fast’ 1995 Toyota Supra Mark IV (his pick)  and a ‘furious’ 1970 Charger R/T (mine) he had always favored sleek and sport-styled imports, while I maintained my loyalty to aggressively styled American muscle. The only common ground we ever seemed to find, arrived courtesy of certain performance-minded luxury brands. Now, both fathers in our early forties, we still trade plenty of jabs surrounding STIs and Challengers, but we spend a lot more time talking about makes and models that sit just outside of our respective price ranges. And one of our indisputable favorites of recent years? The Lexus RC F.

Truth be told, I didn’t have much visibility of the original RC as it wasn’t really in my wheelhouse, at the time. But that all changed when its juiced up offspring made its debut at the 2014 NAIAS for the 2015 model year. With its wide, low-slung stance and aggressive contouring the RC F felt like the perfect blend of sleek import styling and unapologetic stateside attitude. And functional accents found in the aerodynamic and carbon fiber packages only served to enhance that aesthetic, forcing me to reevaluate my lack of enthusiasm for rear spoilers and stabilizer fins (even if the option of a  dual-tone carbon fiber hood still turned me off). All in all, it was a hell of a package, and a lot of fun for the eyes to take in.

And under the hood sat a 5.0-liter V8 mated to an 8-speed transmission capable of churning out an all-too-capable 467hp and 389 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with a Torque Vectoring Differential, the RC F featured the option of Standard, Slalom or Track Drive modes which is the kind of dynamism you look for in a driver’s car. The inclusion of Brembo performance brakes and a confident independent suspension only served to enhance its road manners, meaning the RC F was as fun to drive as it was to look at. It’s really no surprise that it served as the basis for a GT500 class competitor.

And, of course, being a Lexus there was no shortage of luxury to be found in the cabin experience created for the RC F. It stood, inarguably, as the ideal realization of the kind of car I’d be happy to dish out the coin for (if I had that kind of expendable income).

 

A red 2020 Lexus RCF, with its new release in current auto news, is driving in front of buildings.

For the 2020 model year, the RCF is priced to start around $64,750 MSRP. Boasting an even more aggressive iteration of the styling I’d originally fallen victim to, it also features the most powerful V8 engine that Lexus has offered to-date, including new Launch Control features. As a result the 472 horse powertrain now offers a 4.2 second sprint to 60mph making it more enticing than ever.

But it was this years NAIAS unveiling of the RC F Track Edition, five years after the introduction of its game-changing predecessor, that truly served to reignite my love of the RC F. Fine-tuning and a 176LB weight loss drops that 0-60 time to 3.96 seconds, making it about as compelling an offering as I can think of. And, as much as I hate to admit it, the package (as a whole) even makes me appreciate that damn carbon fiber hood and roof aesthetic – especially when the RCF is in the Matte Nebula Gray coloration.

Now, I’ve never been one to base my own opinions on those offered by third party resources. That said, I had picked up on a major industry publication’s light-handed criticism of the RC F noting that was “still too heavy” “to compete with the BMW M4”. This ties back to my conversation with my friend, as it highlights what counts as a ‘pro’ in my book and a ‘con’ is his. While we both appreciate a low stance, he prefers to keep things on the lighter side while I like to pair my aerodynamics with the momentum (and yes security) of a few extra pounds. That said, it’s not a deal breaker for me, and only serves to sweeten the pot.

So, needless to say, reporting of the RC F’s recent laps at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca were bound to capture my attention. The central Californian track measures 2.238 miles in length, with eleven turns built in along the way, and played host to Motor Trend’s “Shifting Perception: An Interactive Experience” which incorporated the use of nine cameras, both interior and exterior, in order to document the RC F’s journey around Laguna.

In terms of that ‘journey’ some some may not think much of a 105 mph top speed, but it’s the impressive lap time of 1 minute 53 seconds which IS impressive, especially when we’re talking about a production model. All in all, the RC F offers a performance-refined take on what was already an admirable vision of a driver’s car. With best power-to-weight ratio in its class, impeccable drivability, unwavering on-brand luxury and a daringly off-brand aesthetic, let me say it again for the people in the back…the Lexus RC F, both base and Track Editions, are easy picks for our list of recent favorites.

What do you think of the RC F? We want to know.

In the meantime, this has been AutoInfluence (as always) thanks for listening. 

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