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Meet the RC coupe: Lexus’ party-hopping, hot new girlfriend

Lexus, meanwhile — the soft, quality-conscious do-gooder brand — prefers ghostly silent luxury sedans and timid crossovers. Or it did.

The 2015 Lexus RC-F COupe comes with a 5-liter, 467-horsepower V-8 behind a gigantic, fierce-looking spindle grille. In the rear are shotgun exhausts.
The 2015 Lexus RC-F COupe comes with a 5-liter, 467-horsepower V-8 behind a gigantic, fierce-looking spindle grille. In the rear are shotgun exhausts.Read moreDavid Dewhurst Photography


Flamboyant, strutting coupes with fat tires and evil exhausts never wear chrome "L's" on their taut rears.

Autobahn assault vehicles like that always come from BMW or Audi or Mercedes-Benz.

Lexus, meanwhile — the soft, quality-conscious do-gooder brand — prefers ghostly silent luxury sedans and timid crossovers.

Or it did.

These days, Lexus looks a lot like a recently divorced middle-aged guy who spends hours at the gym getting carved for his snug new 20-something clothes.

Both seek young love.

About two years ago, in pursuit of more buyers under 50, Lexus began to chip away at its rock-stolid image, starting with bold redesigns of the GS and IS sedans. Then it loosed a spacey new compact crossover on us, the other-worldly NX 200t.

But those fresh faces pale in comparison with the 2015 RC-F coupe, Lexus' party-hopping, hot new girlfriend from Brazil.

You'll recognize the RC as a new-generation Lexus by its huge, blacked-out spindle grille, which is roughly the size of my kitchen window.

Everything else on the car, though, seems far outside Lexus' customary comfort zone.

The new coupe is available with Lexus' seasoned 3.5-liter, 308 horsepower V-6 (the RC-350) or a much-wilder 5-liter, 467-horsepower V-8 (the RC-F).

I drove both cars. And while the quick, satisfying RC-350 will surely be the top-seller, I felt compelled — being the highly mature guy I am — to focus on the bad-boy F.

The first thing I noticed was the coupe's unusual smallish headlamps, curved at their bases with slender hockey-stick lights beneath them that produce an interesting sort of mutant glare.

A powerful, slightly raised hood slid down tightly onto that gigantic, fierce-looking spindle grille, while the car's bulging front fenders flashed vertical exhaust vents.

Nothing on the 4,000-pound coupe seemed subtle.

As an F, the RC sprouted shotgun exhausts in the rear, with two pipes on each side stacked crookedly atop each other (as in the previous IS-F sedan).

If you opt for the RC 350, you'll get slightly smaller tires and tamer exhausts, but it looks more or less identical to the F.

I came to view both as anti-Audis — about as smooth and organic as my bachelor supper last night, but shouting quite effectively for attention.

I kind of liked them.

As soon as I pushed the starter button on the F, though, engaging a high-pitched starter, I knew which one I wanted to dance with.

For my money — and the F retails for a stout $74,560, about $20,000 more than the RC 350 — Lexus' high-performance five-liter V-8 is the finest engine in its lineup.

It feels linear, pushing driver and passenger back into their seats right off idle with nice tall waves of torque throughout its broad power range.

Under about 5,000 rpm, the rumbly engine seems strong, though not overwhelming.

Put your right foot into it really hard, however, and it responds with a deep, ominous exhaust tone and a rich, air-gulping moan.

The aluminum sophisticate pulls hard all the way to 7,000 rpm, arriving at 60 mph in an estimated 4.4 seconds and feeling stronger at red line than it did at 6,000 rpm. It also managed a highly average 16 miles per gallon in town and 25 on the highway.

(The RC-350, incidentally, took 5.7 seconds to hit 60 and got 19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway.)

A well-developed eight-speed automatic kept the edgy eight-cylinder engine singing — actually, bellowing, I suppose.

Like way too many modern cars, the electric power steering on the RC-F felt too heavy and thick around town, making the car seem bulky.

It quickened at higher speeds but remained murky, with little communication between the steering wheel and front tires.

Still, the big coupe turned in to corners pretty darn aggressively for a heavyweight, drifting through them with little lean and commendable body control.

But that capability comes at a price. Think BMW rather than Lexus when you're banging around town in the firm-riding RC-F, which can get fidgety and slightly irritable on rough streets.

Still, Lexus continues to get better at tuning performance suspensions, a real step up from previous floaters like the LS sedan.

Besides, the black-leather interior in the RC-F I had did a decent job of absorbing bumps and other real-world intrusions.

You won't get tired of driving the car. But expect to find appropriate, uh, RC-F flair inside.

So where will the flashy RC coupe fit?

On paper, it stacks up pretty well against the Audi RS 5 (450 horsepower and $75,000); the BMW 6-series coupe (315 horsepower and $80,000); and the Mercedes-Benz E550 (402 horsepower and $67,000).

But will any of those potential buyers be inclined to look at a Lexus? Maybe.

At the very least, I'll bet no one ignores the rowdy RC.


2015 Lexus RC-F Coupe

Type of vehicle: Four-passenger (sort of), rear-wheel-drive luxury coupe

Price as tested: $74,560

Fuel economy: 16 miles per gallon city, 25 highway

Weight: 4,048 pounds

Engine: Five liter V-8 with port and direct fuel injection, 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Performance: 0 to 60 mph at an estimated 4.4 seconds

—SOURCES: Lexus USA; Car and Driver



Terry Box writes for the Dallas Morning News. He may be reached at


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