Caraganza First Drive Review 2018 Lexus RC-F: Oh yes it can



So, there I was flying down the frontstretch at Daytona International Speedway nearing 165 miles per hour and hoping I wouldn’t wake up, because obviously I was dreaming.

But I wasn’t.

A voice on the radio, and the fact that I was rocketing towards the first turn of the 3.81-mile Daytona infield road course wearing a racing helmet at 165 mph made me quite aware that I was indeed wide awake.

“3-2-1. Watch your cones, get ready to brake hard and turn into the corner.”

Oh I was ready to break hard that I can assure you. If I didn’t I would end up mangled in the remains of a Lexus F model car against the Daytona wall.

How did that turn out? Well you know I’m alive, although I guess I could be a ghostwriter. Seriously that story and its ending will be in a few weeks. The story for today is about the car I used to get to Daytona for that experience, the 2018 Lexus RC-F. The RC-F was not only mine for the week, but I was able to sling one around the infield of Daytona and around one of the most iconic road courses in the world.

Lexus sent me to their Performance Driving School at Daytona and for the week they sent me the 2018 RC-F a few days prior.  The “F” designation stands for Fuji, as in the Speedway. Unlike other luxury performance brands, the Lexus F variants are relatively new to the performance game, having released their first F sport models in 2008 (and debuting in IMSA last season).

That doesn’t mean they had any catching up to do however.

The 2018 Lexus RC F (the high-performance version of the Lexus RC coupe) is heavy compared to some of its competitors but with a 5.0-liter V8 engine delivering 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque it sure doesn’t feel even mildly obese.

For 2018 Lexus gave the RC-F some technology upgrades. The optional navigation system now comes with a larger 10.3-inch screen. The Lexus Safety System+ package is now standard, including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.



The RC-F also gets a new color Flare Yellow, which is what I had.

The RC-F has a specially tuned eight-speed automatic transmission, a limited-slip differential, (new for 2018) adaptive variable suspension, Brembo upgrade brakes, and 19-inch forged alloy wheels. It also gets special styling and sport seats.

Since there is only one trim any changes are made via options packages and stand-alone optional upgrades.

My tester was equipped with the Premium package which added a slew of luxury upgrades including heated/ventilated seats and great looking carbon fiber trim.

Getting into the RC-F is not unlike entering any in its class; you almost put in on rather than climb in; and that is a very good thing indeed.

On the road the naturally aspirated 5.0 will do 0-60 in around 4.4 seconds.  For those who want a bit edgier drive the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) has SPORT and EXPERT modes while the everyday modes can be set to Eco, Normal/Custom, Sport S and Sport S+.

Here’s the thing.  When you own a high performance anything, you rarely get to use the “high performance.” We buy a high-performance car just to know we have a high-performance car.  So while the RC-F has been criticized in some circles as being heavier than some of its rivals, for everyday use on the road you’ll probably never notice the difference.

But on the track…

Normally the test cars we get don’t see much track time. The “press fleet” as it is called allows us to spend a week with them under pretty normal everyday driving conditions.  Sure, we may sometimes try and get a 0-60 time on a lonely road, or open them up a bit, but mainly we use them in everyday driving.

The Lexus RC-F was an exception to that rule.

It was the first high performance car that I used on the track.  I attended the Lexus Performance Driving School at Daytona (again another article on that awesome experience is forthcoming) and using F vehicles provided by them got to do things we could never do on the street (like fly down the frontstretch at speeds nearing 165).

I had an RC-F (the same color yellow by the way) and with it dialed up saw, and felt, what it can really do.  And what it can really do, is really all right.  Charging into a wet skid pad and learning how to drift confirmed that while some of its rivals may weigh less, the RC-F can handle pretty much everything you can throw at it.  Although I learned that I still suck at drifting, with an expert behind the wheel, there seems little the RC-F can’t do.

I’ve always liked the luxury Lexus can provide and the RC-F does that and so much more. After my day at the track, and my week with the 2018 Lexus RC-F I now realize just how much it can really do.

And to me with an MSRP of $75,195 the pricing is definitely much skinnier than most of its rivals; especially considering that when you add options to some of the others the price can easily start to get near six figures.

The RC-F then is one of the more affordable in its class. And while you may never charge down the frontstretch at Daytona nearing a 165 or drift around a turn, it’s nice to know you could.

2081 Lexus RC-F
MSRP: $54,650
MSRP (as tested): $75,195
Engine: 5.0-liter 8-cylinder, 467 hp @7100 rpm, 389 lb-ft torque @4800-5600 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 25 highway, 16 city, 19 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 27 mpg
Base Curb Weight: lbs     3958

Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity:     4
Passenger Volume: ft³     79.4
Front Head Room: in     37.8
Front Leg Room: in     45.4
Front Shoulder Room: in     50.7
Front Hip Room: in     53.9
Second Head Room: in     35
Second Leg Room: in     27.3
Second Shoulder Room: in     46.1
Second Hip Room: in     47.8

Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase: in     107.5
Length, Overall: in     185.2
Width, Max w/o mirrors: in     72.6
Height, Overall: in     54.7
Track Width, Front: in     61.2
Track Width, Rear: in     61.4
Min Ground Clearance: in 5.1

Basic: 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Drivetrain: 6 Years/70,000 Miles
Corrosion: 6 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance: 4 Years/Unlimited Miles
Maintenance: 1 Years/10,000 Miles

Greg Engle