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Lexus RC and RC F: What's the Difference?

What a difference a single letter can make. The name given to Lexus’ mid-size luxury sports car stands for ‘Radical Coupé’ and in any variation the RC looks superb. What distinguishes the ‘F’ version, though? We’ll explain.

On the outside

Lexus has wisely kept the production RC looking closely like the concept it revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show – and radical is certainly one word that describes its dramatic and downright evocative styling. Sporting a huge iteration of Lexus’ spindle grille helps instantly set the RC apart from its German competition. With distinctive LEDs front and rear, a muscular side profile, an angular rear and an overall silhouette that screams aggression and performance, Lexus’ sports Coupé is the perfect answer to German conservatism.

The even fierier RC F version cranks everything up a notch, including visually. Its grille features a double spindle effect along with a graduated F-motif that looks fantastic while helping keep the car’s potent engine cool. F versions incorporate additional air vents adjacent to the front wheels, more aggressively-styled bumpers and spoilers, Brembo brakes, unique 19-inch forged alloy wheels and an active rear wing. RC F Carbon models boast a roof, bonnet and rear spoiler made from carbon, to save even more weight.

Inside the cabin

The Lexus RC may be a two-door coupe but its interior provides luxurious seating for four adults and its driver-focussed cockpit with clear and ergonomically exceptional functions emphasises the car’s sporting credentials. Mixing sophisticated touches like an analogue clock with an ultra-modern touchpad for controlling the car’s infotainment system, the RC’s interior is a masterclass in Japanese minimalism and occupants in the sculpted leather seats are treated to a lesson in distinct materials and obsessive craftsmanship. Safety systems and cutting-edge technology are in abundance, helping drivers and passengers enjoy the RC experience to the full.

Inside the sportier RC F, the driving mode-dependent instrumentation screen is heavily inspired by Lexus’ LFA supercar, immediately evoking a stronger sense of engagement with features such as a G-force meter and a stopwatch. Its unique three-spoke steering wheel purposefully boasts a thicker grip section to provide enhanced control during spirited driving, while the paddle-shifts have been repositioned to enable accurate gear changes at higher speeds. The RC F’s seats are also unique, with higher backs, even more cosseting bolster support, exclusive stitching and exclusive colours. Lexus’ Premium Navigation System is fitted as standard along with a high-resolution 7-inch main screen, and the RC F variant’s climate control system is state of the art to enable efficient adjustments to suit the driving style.

Under the skin

This is where the most significant differences between the standard RC and the RC F emerge. Lexus is a luxury marque synonymous with pioneering relatively clean, efficient and smooth yet potent hybrid drivetrains – and the 300h recipe underpinning the RC in Luxury, F Sport and Premier trims is a superb all-round combination.

The drivetrain sees a 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine that produces a peak of 178bhp mated with an electric motor that brings additional and instantaneous torque to the party. The combined total of 220bhp is enough to shift this stunning-looking sports coupé to 62mph in 8.6 seconds, and on to a top speed of 118mph while emitting just 113g/km CO2.

The more potent RC F unsurprisingly wins hands-down when it comes to power and pace, courtesy of the most powerful V8 Lexus has brought to its mainstream models. The 5-litre engine serves up peaks of 471bhp and 530Nm torque, is electronically limited to 168mph and takes a mere 4.5 seconds to hit 62mph. The RC F is indeed a blisteringly fast luxury sports coupé, capable of amazing its four occupants with exhilarating performance and handling agility, owing to its stiffer suspension and upgraded brakes. Inevitably, the fuel consumption is higher than from its hybrid RC sibling at 26.2mpg combined, while CO2 emissions are rated at 252g/km.

In numbers…

 

RC 300h Hybrid

RC F 5-Litre V8

Power (HP)

220

471

Fuel (comb MPG)

57.6

26.2

Emissions (CO2, g/km)

113

251

Top Speed (mph)

118

168

0 – 60mph in…. (seconds)

8.6

4.5

Price

£37,145

£42,645

From £61,310


While the range-topping RC F is clearly the most potent and engaging of the Lexus RC range with its mighty V8 engine and sense-stirring body styling additions. The hybrid version of the RC is nevertheless a remarkable sports Coupé that blends class-leading green credentials and smooth delivery, with levels of power that would wow any driver. Why not test drive the Lexus RC and RC F back to back at Inchcape Lexus?