Tested: Cut-price luxury muscle car

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The automotive world is going through drastic changes as emissions reductions have a huge impact on the cars we drive. But an old-school brawler from Lexus is giving us a nostalgic glimpse at the past. Here is everything you need to know about the Lexus RC F coupe.

VALUE

Lexus updated the RC F coupe last year and the current versions sells for about $147,000 drive-away. That’s a lot cheaper than German rivals such as the Audi RS 5 ($165,000) and the Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe ($185,000).

A more focused Track Edition costs about $177,000 drive-away. It adds performance parts and carbon fibre panels to reduce weight, while launch control is also available — the first time it has appeared in a Lexus since the LFA.

An old-school V8 engine delivers its deep wells of power in a smooth, linear fashion.
media_cameraAn old-school V8 engine delivers its deep wells of power in a smooth, linear fashion.

Power might be down compared to the Germans but the RC F is absolutely loaded with standard equipment and luxury kit.

The RC F’s four-year/100,000km warrant is only outdone by Mercedes-Benz’s five-year/unlimited km guarantee. Each service is capped at $595 for three years, totalling $1785.

It also comes with complimentary membership to the Lexus Encore Platinum benefits program, which allows owners to book Lexus cars on demand for short escapes, complimentary shopping centre valet parking along with premium hotel deals and special event days.

COMFORT

Front seat passengers are treated to snug leather-trimmed heated and ventilated sports seats. The driver’s seat memory function is a godsend, providing extra room to enter and exit the low-slung coupe before tucking you in to drive.

High-quality materials elevate the RC F’s cabin.
media_cameraHigh-quality materials elevate the RC F’s cabin.

It is a luxurious place to spend an afternoon. You’re surrounded by high quality materials and soft touch surfaces broken up by glossy, textured surfaces.

A 10.3-inch central display is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The display is controlled by a touchpad, which will take some getting used to. A conventional rotary-style control would be better.

Touch-sensitive aircon controls are slick looking but tough to use on the fly. The eight-inch digital instrument display isn’t as impressive as its rivals.

A 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo is superb, providing a crisp, punchy sound.

SAFETY

The RC F doesn’t have an ANCAP crash rating but it comes with an extensive range of safety equipment.

Passengers are protected by a wide range of active safety equipment.
media_cameraPassengers are protected by a wide range of active safety equipment.

Passengers are protected by eight airbags, auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.

DR IVING

The 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 in the RC F is one of a dying breed. Competitors are switching to smaller, turbocharged engines all in the name of fuel efficiency and emissions reductions.

The V8 sends 351kW and 530Nm to the rear wheels in a smooth, linear fashion. Maximum power arrives at a high 7100rpm, with a throaty, old-school soundtrack to match.

Lexus’ choice to add an eight-speed auto instead of the slicker shifting but often jerky dual-clutch alternatives fits the character of the car. It’s more a grand tourer than a track day weapon.

But the RC F is fast enough, racing to 100km/h in a claimed 4.5 seconds.

Weighing almost 1800kg, the sporty coupe is surprisingly lithe through corners. Precise and weighty steering combine with grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres and big brakes to give you confidence at speed.

There is a selection of driving modes for different occasions. Softer suspension in Normal mode makes for a smooth ride around town, while Sport modes sharpens the car’s reflexes.

As with all coupes vision out the back is compromised.

Fuel use is a claimed 11.2L/100km, but you’ll struggle to hit that number.

VERDICT 3.5/5

A value-packed old-school sports coupe with a sweet sounding engine, which feels more at home on a country road than a track. The interior is a mixed bag, though.

ALTERNATIVES

Audi RS5, from about $165,000 drive-away

Four-door coupe that is a faster and more gripping drive. It’s also $20,000 more expensive and has a shorter warranty.

Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe, from about $185,000 drive-away

More power, quicker and with a benchmark warranty for a luxury car. Expensive, though.

LEXUS RC F VITALS

Price: About $147,000 drive-away

Warranty/servicing: 4 years, 100,000km, $1785 over 3 years

Engine: 5.0-litre V8, 351kW/530Nm

Safety: Not tested, 8 airbags, auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure, lane-keep assist

Thirst: 11.2L/100km

Originally published as Tested: Cut-price luxury muscle car