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2019 Lexus RC F performance review

By Scott Newman, 28 Jul 2019 Reviews

2019 Lexus RC F performance review feature

Revised V8 coupe benefits from myriad detail changes

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Since its introduction in 2016, the Lexus RC F has offered an intriguing and at times enjoyable left-field alternative to the likes of the M4 and C63 S Coupe but has struggled to go toe-to-toe with its more established German rivals. Undeterred, an army of engineers has been busy fine-tuning the V8 sports coupe, leaving no stone unturned in the quest for improvement.

2019 Lexus RC F interior cockpit

It’s mostly nth-degree changes, but add up enough of these tiny alterations and the end result is a sharper, more enjoyable car.

Outputs are unchanged at 351kW/530Nm from the high-revving 5.0-litre atmo V8, but there’s a new intake manifold to improve emissions and the secondary intake opening point has been lowered from 3600rpm to 2800rpm. The upshot is more ready access to that deep, delicious roar, which only intensifies as the tacho sweeps around to 7000rpm.

The eight-speed auto has been reprogrammed for more intuitive shifts and more aggressive downchanges; combined with the new launch control, Lexus claims 0-100km/h takes 4.5sec, which isn’t hanging about. What it lacks in outright grunt compared to turbocharged rivals it makes up for in super-sharp throttle response.

MOTOR comparison: RC F v M4 v F-Type V6 S

2019 Lexus RC F engine

Its job is now easier thanks to a mild yet comprehensive diet. The biggest saving comes with the optional EP3 Pack, which includes titanium exhaust, carbon-ceramic brakes and lightweight 19-inch wheels from the Track Edition.

Together they shave 32kg, the effect of which can be multiplied due to being unsprung weight, but at $29,161 for the package, that’s more than $900 per kilo saved. From here it gets really nerdy: a hollow propshaft sheds 1.8kg, a new rear bumper reinforcement 500g, aluminium upper front suspension mounts 700g, and aluminium rear toe control arm brackets a further 500g.

Of more importance is the deletion of the previous RC F’s active diff in favour of a lighter, simpler mechanical LSD. It’s aggressive in its operation, sharply pivoting the car in response to throttle application. On cold (or wet) tyres, the RC F is a right handful; the new Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S rubber needs a bit of heat to work properly, but once up to temperature there’s a level of grip and traction the previous RC F couldn’t muster.

2019 Lexus RC F performance

Revised adaptive dampers do their part, stiffer rear subframe bushes resist lateral loads better, and the steering rack bushes are 150 per cent stronger to sharpen the front end. There certainly feels to be less slack around the straight-ahead.

There are no headline changes with the RC F, nothing that jumps out and grabs your attention, but the small, extensive revisions have enhanced its ability to entertain on a twisty road. Well done, Lexus, for trying again.

Tested and rated on MOTOR car reviews

2019 Lexus RC F front facelift

Engine: 4969cc V8, DOHC, 32v
Power: 351kW @ 7100rpm
Torque: 530Nm @ 4800-5600rpm
Weight: 1715kg 
0-100km/h: 4.5sec (claimed)
Price: $163,290 (EP3 Pack)

Like: Singing normally aspirated V8; improved dynamics; looks; weight loss
Dislike: EP3 pack pricey; stupid infotainment system; cold-temp tyre performance

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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