I’ve been watching quite a bit of Married at First Sight.
I know, I know... and no matter how hard I scrub, the shame doesn’t disappear, but my girlfriend enjoys it and it has a similar sort of appeal to those Nurburgring crash videos that feature numerous Renault Clios and BMW M3s pinballing between the armco. It’s awkward, a bit painful, but compelling viewing nonetheless.
Being paired with a long-termer is a similar process (to the show, that is, not crashing at the ’Ring). All of a sudden you’re living with a new car and expected to get along – or at least that’s what the public relations person at the car company hopes.
Thankfully, we usually have some prior experience before being sandwiched together. In the case of the RC F this wasn’t necessarily comforting, as while not without appeal, it hasn’t exactly wowed us during previous encounters. Hmmm.
Still, that’s why we do these tests, to see if longer exposure brings to light virtues (or flaws) a quick road test or comparison may miss.
Spending the past four months with the Lexus RC F has certainly improved my opinion of it, albeit there are a few caveats, which I’ll get to in a moment.
Some will never consider an RC F purely for the way it looks. And fair enough, it’s a challenging design. Its snout is a bit bulbous and its ‘eyes’ too squinty, but I actually don’t mind it – in the right light (and no, not complete darkness) it looks quite cool.
I was also one of the few who liked the carbon treatment, though you’d have to have rocks in your head to pay $20,597 for it, especially given the meagre 9.5kg weight loss. It would be an expensive option if it saved 10 times that amount.
The highlight of the RC F is undoubtedly its engine. It sounds a bit contrived, but the way the engine note hardens substantially around 4000rpm never fails to entertain and with 10,000 hard press kilometres under its belt, the 5.0-litre V8 was feeling particularly healthy, powering 1800kg-odd of Lexus to 230km/h along Sandown’s straights on a recent track outing.
Unusually for such a heavy car, on track was where the RC F impressed most. Its brake stamina makes a mockery of the BMW M4’s standard setup and the Lexus will keep circulating long after a Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe has run out of rear rubber.
Despite two fairly substantial track sessions and plenty of road use the RC F’s stoppers still had plenty of bite and the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres were hanging in there, though rear grip was beginning to suffer.
A shout-out to the Expert ESP mode, too, which is brilliantly lenient and impressively subtle in its intervention.
Now for the bad stuff: the ride is okay, but with adaptive dampers could be better; it wasn’t driven with economy in mind, but an atmo V8 lugging a heavy car around led to a fairly serious thirst; worst of all, though, is the infotainment system, something you interact with every day.
Lexus needs a complete rethink of its control interface as the current trackpad is at best infuriatingly unintuitive, at worst dangerous given the amount of attention it diverts from the road. Good stereo, though, and the seats’ heating and ventilating functions were both used during its stay.
So would I buy a Lexus RC F? No.
No short stints or fast flings on Long Term Reviews
To return to the opening paragraph, if I was forced into the relationship Married at First Sight-style, we’d certainly find common ground and have an enjoyable time, but it’s not my dream partner.
For my money, the GS F is the more impressive Lexus – it’s lighter, more practical and a better drive. Likewise, while the RC F is a grower, it can’t deliver the instant adrenalin hit of its more powerful rivals from BMW and Mercedes; both would be more alluring on a quick test drive.
However, early on in the RC F’s tenure I spied a car that would be the perfect choice if you’re looking for a screaming V8 coupe and I haven’t been able to shake the thought since. It might be yesterday’s news, but the E92 M3 follows the same recipe as the Lexus, only with tastier ingredients.
It’s true marriage material.
2017 Lexus RC F Pros & Cons
Three things we fell for:
1 - Ace drivetrain
2 - Great seats
3 - On-track talent
Three things we got sick of:
1 - Track pad
2 - Track pad
3 - Tr... ok, firm ride