2015 Lexus RC F

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$39,640 — $52,820 Shop local deals
(5.0) 9 reviews
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Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2015 Lexus RC F. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • V-8 sound
  • Decent mileage as tested
  • Standard sport seats
  • Rich gauges
  • Driftable rear end
  • Safety ratings

The Bad

  • Modest torque
  • Transmission hesitation
  • Firm ride
  • No adaptive suspension option
  • Small backseat
  • Rear seats don't fold

Notable Features of the 2015 Lexus RC F

  • V-8 engine
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Rear-wheel drive

2015 Lexus RC F Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder

The 2015 Lexus RC F coupe is a fun performance coupe that improves on the IS F sedan, but it falls behind competitors on a racetrack.

The discontinued IS F sedan, which was Lexus' first attempt to take on performance cars from BMW, Cadillac and other luxury brands, was too squirrely, disjointed and awkward-looking.

The RC F is a high-performance version of Lexus' new rear-wheel-drive coupe, the 2015 RC 350 — not to be confused with the mildly souped-up version that's confusingly named the RC 350 F Sport. Based on price and specifications, the RC F compares to the BMW M4 (the renamed M3 Coupe) and the new 2016 Cadillac ATS-V. All three competed in our recent Luxury Performance Coupe Challenge, in which four editors and one consumer graded and ranked the cars in many categories. The Audi RS 5 is another alternative for performance-coupe shoppers. (Compare all four side-by-side here.)

Exterior & Styling
The RC F has Lexus' boldest front end yet, characterized by the largest execution of what the company calls its spindle-shaped grille. I'd call it a distorted hourglass instead, as I suspect few Lexus shoppers do their own tailoring and/or are colonial historians.

While the RC 350 F Sport looks darn close to the RC F, a larger front bumper vent in front of each wheel — for more effective brake cooling — gives away the top dog.

Though Lexus' new design movement is divisive, the RC F was pretty well received among passers-by, espec...

The 2015 Lexus RC F coupe is a fun performance coupe that improves on the IS F sedan, but it falls behind competitors on a racetrack.

The discontinued IS F sedan, which was Lexus' first attempt to take on performance cars from BMW, Cadillac and other luxury brands, was too squirrely, disjointed and awkward-looking.

The RC F is a high-performance version of Lexus' new rear-wheel-drive coupe, the 2015 RC 350 — not to be confused with the mildly souped-up version that's confusingly named the RC 350 F Sport. Based on price and specifications, the RC F compares to the BMW M4 (the renamed M3 Coupe) and the new 2016 Cadillac ATS-V. All three competed in our recent Luxury Performance Coupe Challenge, in which four editors and one consumer graded and ranked the cars in many categories. The Audi RS 5 is another alternative for performance-coupe shoppers. (Compare all four side-by-side here.)

Exterior & Styling
The RC F has Lexus' boldest front end yet, characterized by the largest execution of what the company calls its spindle-shaped grille. I'd call it a distorted hourglass instead, as I suspect few Lexus shoppers do their own tailoring and/or are colonial historians.

While the RC 350 F Sport looks darn close to the RC F, a larger front bumper vent in front of each wheel — for more effective brake cooling — gives away the top dog.

Though Lexus' new design movement is divisive, the RC F was pretty well received among passers-by, especially the one with a deep-blue Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 paint job.

As an option, shoppers can opt for a Performance Package that adds a visible carbon fiber rear spoiler and carbon fiber roof. The roof removes weight up high, lowering the car's center of gravity. Lexus kindly offers an optional glass moonroof as an alternative, which does the opposite.

How It Drives
I view the RC F's driving experience from a few perspectives: on its own merit, versus the IS F, and versus the BMW and Cadillac.

It's most impressive when compared with the retired IS F sedan. Last sold as a 2014, the IS F marked the debut of Lexus' F performance division, and I never liked driving it. It was squirrely, with an unruly rear end and countermeasures too clumsy to control it. The RC F brings things more in line without sacrificing the playful character of a tail that's willing to slide out — and a stability system that allows it to do so without being overly limiting. (The M4's stability system, even in a relaxed mode called MDM, is a complete buzzkill — a surprise to us all.)

The RC F is controllable, but there's no doubt it's more of a tail-wagger than the other two cars in our Challenge. It comes standard with a Torsen mechanical limited-slip differential, but our Challenge car had the optional Torque Vectoring Differential as part of the Performance Package. A TVD button on the center console controls it, providing Standard, Slalom and Track modes that vary how the electronically controlled clutch packs distribute torque left and right. When I drove this car on the Monticello Motor Club private racetrack in New York state, I thought it did a good job. After experimenting with it head-to-head against the BMW and Cadillac at the Autobahn Country Club track in Joliet, Ill., I was left wanting perhaps a fourth TVD setting that would glue the tail down and give it comparable road-holding.

Lexus cites shift times that are admirably fast for a conventional torque-converter automatic rather than a dual-clutch automatic like Audi and BMW use. The RC F's eight-speed does shift quickly from one gear to the next — when it shifts — but it hesitates too long before doing so when you jab the pedal in an automatic mode. After an earlier drive where I noticed the hesitation only occasionally, our Challenge car exhibited it more — including a few times when shifting manually via the steering-wheel paddles.

I thought the eight-speed was at its best on the track in the automatic Sport S+ mode. There, it did a good job of picking the right gear and continuously downshifting through the gears as you decelerate. My colleagues were less enthused in one regard, saying the downshifts were too abrupt and occasionally happened midcorner. I've come to view competent automatic modes as a necessity with an eight-speed automatic because — as I said of the first such automatic transmission on the market, on the IS F in 2008 — having eight gears proves tedious when shifting manually. Sadly, the Lexus doesn't offer a proper three-pedal manual transmission like the other two models do.

Our experience with an automatic ATS-V suggests it's better than the others, but the Cadillac we drove in the Challenge was a manual. Our big surprise was the M4, whose automatic modes seldom found the right gear; we resorted to paddles on that one.

On the plus side for the M4, it provides the absolute best control over variable characteristics like throttle response, shift speed, power-steering assist, adaptive suspension and stability control. Why? Because the BMW lets the driver control each system independently, and to program one's preferences into two umbrella modes accessible via buttons on the steering wheel. In the Caddy and Lexus, those modes are predetermined by the manufacturer. The RC F's Eco, Normal, Sport+ and Sport S+ aren't very compelling, partly because there's no adaptive suspension for them to control.

The RC F tragically doesn't offer an adaptive suspension even as an option (puzzling because one is available on the lesser RC 350 F Sport). As a standard feature, the ATS-V's adaptive suspension gives it the best split personality in the test. One could easily say a likely buyer for these cars wouldn't care too much about ride quality, but knowing a higher level of comfort is possible, as it is in the Caddy, raises the bar.

Though the M4 we drove had an adaptive suspension — a $1,000 option — it failed to deliver a comfortable ride in Comfort mode. Its firmness compared to the RC F's, but there's no denying that a computer-controlled adaptive suspension that responds to surfaces and body motions is worth having, even if the firmness is the same as a fixed suspension's.

Note that during our Challenge we removed the RC F from road-course testing earlier than hoped after it blew bluish-white smoke out the tailpipes. It seemed fine afterward, without so much as a check engine light, so we suspect the high g-forces allowed some motor oil to get past the PCV valve into the intake manifold. Still, out of an abundance of caution, we retired it for the day. The other two cars exhibited no such problem.

In our drag-strip testing, the RC F did zero to 60 mph in 4.88 seconds and the quarter mile in 13.12 seconds at 109.11 mph. The ATS-V was quicker, hitting 60 mph in 4.32 seconds and the quarter mile in 12.41 at 115.62 mph. The winner was the M4, which made it to 60 mph in 3.97 seconds and the quarter mile in 12.05 at 118.35 mph.

These are all pretty close, but we grade on the driving experience, as well. Overall, the RC F is undeniably a performer, quicker and more capable than most vehicles on the road. Having eight speeds to work with, it's reasonably quick off the line, but its torque deficit is indeed felt in the seat of your pants.

While specifications aren't a guarantee, the RC F's predict the results above pretty well versus the BMW and Cadillac. Though it has the highest horsepower rating, at 467 hp versus the M4's 425 and the ATS-V's 464 hp, the Lexus' torque rating is the lowest, at 389 pounds-feet at 4,800 rpm. The M4 has 406 pounds-feet at a low 1,850 rpm, and the ATS-V has the most: 445 pounds-feet at 3,500 rpm. The Lexus is also the heaviest, at 3,958 pounds. That's a significant 258 pounds more than the Cadillac and 373 pounds more than the M4 with an automatic transmission. (For those keeping score, the RS 5, which wasn't provided for the Challenge, weighs the most, at 4,009 pounds, and has the lowest torque rating: 317 pounds-feet at 4,000 rpm.)

What's a bit disappointing is that there's no apparent advantage to the RC F's engine having two cylinders more than the other cars, except maybe better sound outside the car. The RC F employs a 5.0-liter V-8 where the BMW and Caddy have turbocharged V-6s. The days of anemic, low-rev turbocharged engines are over; in fact, it's swung the other way. The RC's normally aspirated V-8 (like the Audi's and the one BMW abandoned when it engineered the current-generation M3 and M4) delivers the kind of modest off-the-line acceleration we once endured from small turbocharged engines, a tuning designed to save fuel.

The strategy works, sort of. In our mileage test, the Lexus achieved 24.26 mpg in combined driving, beating the BMW's 23.46 mpg and the Cadillac's 22.9 mpg (the latter with a six-speed manual). This suggests our drive loop skewed more toward highway driving, as the Lexus has an EPA highway rating of 25 mpg, where the M4 automatic is 24 mpg and the ATS-V manual is 23 mpg. In more balanced city/highway driving, the EPA predicts all three cars will get 19 mpg. (The RS 5 is rated 18 mpg combined.)

In our braking tests, the RC F took the longest, stopping from 60 mph to zero in 127.68 feet. The Caddy was best at 119.47 feet. The BMW required 122.85 feet — surprising because it had $8,150 optional brakes. Those carbon-ceramic designs are intended primarily to resist fade, though, which they did — lap after lap on the road course. Unfortunately, the RC F's track time — and thus fade testing — was cut short by the cloud of smoke. In normal street braking, I thought the Lexus and Cadillac were only reasonably linear on application and less so on release. The BMW's pedal was the best.

Interior
Despite the RC F being fractions of an inch longer than the others externally, some of its interior dimensions are smaller. Most important, rear legroom is about 6 inches shy of the other cars and shoulder room is 3 to 5 inches less. For internal space, the M4 is the clear leader. None of these cars' backseats are very accommodating for adults, but the RC F is the least comfortable. Its most generous dimension is front-seat legroom, but our unlikely collection of 6-foot-plus editors and guest consumer had no complaints about the other cars' in this regard.

The RC F certainly features luxury appointments, but we found fault with it, too, partly due to inconsistency among the materials. To me, the gray plastic of the center console seemed like it belonged on a cheaper car. Quality is about feel, sound and interaction, too, and there's no separating the car's interior quality from the experience of its touchpad-based control system, which seems to be universally loathed (more details in the next section).

Among the Cars.com judges, the RC F averaged 6 points (out of a possible 10) for interior quality, just behind the ATS-V's 6.7 points. The Cadillac's low rating was due in part to its similarly unpopular Cadillac User Experience control interface. Our test M4, as equipped, scored highest with 8 points; its once-reviled iDrive interface is now a relative high point.

Ergonomics & Electronics
Lexus will find no greater sympathizer than me for its Remote Touch Interface. Absent my preferred touch-screen, I like the idea of random access — the ability to move a pointer to an onscreen button or keyboard selection rather than scrolling through menus with a rotary knob, like the German brands require. When Lexus introduced its Remote Touch Interface, I was the only Cars.com editor who liked it (see the video tour). Unfortunately, it's been redesigned twice since then and each time it's been degraded. Now, equipped with a touchpad, it's a huge turnoff to me and a confirmed deal-breaker for some shoppers. (The upcoming 2016 Lexus RX has a system that looks a lot like the original version, which seems a clear recognition of both the problem and my brilliance. Well, maybe just the first part.)

As bad as the touchpad interface already is, when combined with the RC F's bumpy ride it's often unusable. Lining up and activating, say, a zoom button on the map without instead clicking on the map itself proved a near impossibility.

If you want to pass on RTI (bundled in either a $1,760 or $2,840 option package), you'll also go without a navigation system, backup camera, internet radio stations including iHeartRadio, Pandora and Slacker, plus other apps in the Enform App Suite, such as Bing, Yelp, Facebook Places, Movietickets.com, OpenTable, Stocks, Fuel Prices and Sports. You'll also sacrifice a second USB port.

The standard audio setup includes a 7-inch display, 10 speakers, satellite radio (subscription required after 90 days), an in-dash CD player and Bluetooth wireless audio streaming and hands-free telephone support. There's also a single USB port and analog auxiliary jack.

In the Controls & Multimedia category, Cars.com judges awarded the BMW 7.7 points, the Caddy 5.0 points and the Lexus 3.7 points on average.

Cargo & Storage
With 10.1 cubic feet of volume, the RC F's trunk was the smallest of the three Challenge cars, just behind the ATS-V's 10.4 cubic feet. The M4 has 11.0 cubic feet. The RS 5 outdoes them all with 12.2 cubic feet.

What's disappointing about the Lexus is its lack of folding rear seats to extend the cargo area into the cabin. The other three models include them standard.

Safety
In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's crash tests, the 2015 Lexus RC coupe is a star, earning the top rating of good in all tests. Its optional collision warning and avoidance system is classified as advanced, one step below the top score of superior.

Where the institute categorizes the RC as a large luxury car, it classifies the M4 (3 Series) as a midsize. The M3 sedan earns a disappointing rating of marginal (out of a possible poor, marginal, acceptable or good) in the small overlap front test. Where the coupe shares frontal results, it hasn't been tested separately for side and other crashes. Its optional forward collision warning and avoidance system is rated advanced.

The new ATS hasn't been tested yet, but IIHS rates its optional collision warning and avoidance system superior.

The RC F offers a backup camera only in navigation packages, but parking sensors are a stand-alone option.

Value in Its Class
In cars like these, performance plays into the value determination more than it does for common cars. While the RC F is reasonably satisfying in its own right, under the harsh light of competition it shows room for improvement.

Ditto for features. It's not just about cost versus what appears on the features lists; it's about alternatives. For example, the ATS-V we drove managed to hit $74,450 as equipped without a full navigation system, but in that case one could rely on a mobile device or OnStar to send directions digitally that CUE then displays and vocalizes as turn-by-turn guidance. What the Cadillac does include standard is an adaptive suspension.

Now compare the RC F: There's no fix for a tighter interior, a backseat that doesn't fold, a frustrating media controller, heavier weight, less torque and no adaptive suspension available.

The M4 in our test managed to be $11,000 more than the Lexus as equipped, but by eliminating the brake upgrade, LED headlight option and premium stereo, you could even out the prices without changing the overall performance picture. The M4 isn't cheap, but at least it offers many stand-alone options rather than only bundled packages. For performance, at least, its value rated highly.

Cars.com's judges rated the ATS-V's value highest with an average score of 7.4. The M4 earned 6 points and the RC F trailed with 5.4.

Send Joe an email  



2015 RC F Video

Lexus' new coupe does performance much better than any of the brand's other attempts. How does the V-8-powered 2015 Lexus RC F compete against its BMW rival, the 2015 turbocharged six-cylinder M4? Watch the video to find out.

Latest 2015 RC F Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(5.0)
Performance
(5.0)
Interior Design
(4.8)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(5.0)
Value For The Money
(4.8)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Amazing car for the money

by Johnronin on April 14, 2018

this this is an amazing car for the money... you get everything you need and more and you can't beat the Lexus reliability and resale value. My only complaint is the multimedia interface system is ... Read full review

(5.0)

Best car I?ve owned

by Adog from Clovis ca on November 15, 2017

So fun to drive, especially on curved roads. I?ve raced just about everyone and best them! It?s fast... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2015 Lexus RC F currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2015 Lexus RC F Base

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/thigh
good
Lower leg/foot
good
Overall evaluation
good
Retraints and dummy kinematics
good
Structure and safety cage
good

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/thigh
good
Lower leg/foot
good
Restraints and dummy kinematics
good
Small overlap front
good
Structure and safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    72 months / 70,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Lexus

Program Benefits

Every L/Certified vehicle now comes with an unlimited-mileage warranty up to 6 years, complimentary maintenance plan. Each L/Certified Pre-Owned Lexus must pass a rigorous inspection and be thoroughly reconditioned to meet the same high standards as a new Lexus. Exclusively at a Lexus dealership.

  • Limited Warranty

    Unlimited Mileage Warranty Up To 6 Years

    Warranty is valid for a minimum of two years/unlimited mileage after the expiration of 4 yr/50,000 mile new vehicle Basic Warranty, or two years from L/Certified purchase or lease date, whichever occurs later.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 70,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 161 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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All Model Years for the Lexus RC F

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The RC F received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker