By on January 14, 2019

Image: Toyota

Toyota’s Lexus Division made 2018 all about the sedan, hoping to remind the buying public that forgoing cargo space is still possible in this day and age. This year, or at least at this Detroit show, Lexus is all about the two-doors, with a drop-top LC “concept” available for perusal, as well as a brace of production RC coupes — now mildly made over for the 2020 model year.

The fact the brand still offers two models featuring a trunk and two side doors is worthy of note in this crossover-and-truck-hungry era. With the new RC and long-awaited Toyota Supra both appearing at the North American International Auto Show, the automaker is striking flint against a heap of steel, hoping to rekindle a dying flame.

The Lexus RC is among the last of the plush, powerful personal luxury coupes — a segment whose denizens plied America’s highways by the gigaton in the 1970s. In RC F guise, a brawny 5.0-liter V8 resides under the hood, and its relative uniqueness in the segment is something Lexus is proud enough to make mention of. The drive wheels are those found in the rear. And now there’s a little more “sport” to go with the sportier variant of division’s relatively attainable — yet increasingly unpopular — coupe.

 

For 2020, the RC F receives subtle improvements in both appearance and driving dynamics. A revised front and rear fascia might not stand out from across the street, but the changes are there. No longer is there a spear below the headlamps — it’s now incorporated into the lamp itself in the form of an LED running light. The black mesh filling the world-swallowing spindle grille now stops short of touching the lower lip.

While these changes fall into the superficial category, actual power gains and weight loss are not. The LC F’s naturally aspirated 5.0L gains 5 horsepower and 6 lb-ft, putting the coupe’s new output at 472 hp and 395 lb-ft. Lexus credits new intake routing, as well as a lower engine speed trigger for the secondary intake opening. Boosting the model’s performance is a higher final drive ratio for the eight-speed automatic (3.13, versus 2019’s 2.93).

Standard launch control for 2020 helps the car’s Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber gain as much purchase as possible. Those tires, by the way, carry an RC F-specific tread pattern that Lexus claims reduces understeer, which is an unsexy trait no one wants.

Here and there, Lexus shaved off whatever weight it could, moving from solid half shafts to hollow ones, switching to aluminum for certain suspension brackets, and paring an unspecified amount of mass from the engine’s intake manifold. There’s also a smaller air conditioning compressor.

Elsewhere, Lexus clamped down in the hopes of boosting refinement. The car’s rear suspension arm and steering rack mounts contain firmer bushings, while the engine mounts underwent a similar swap.

All of these changes carry over to the new, limited edition RC F Track Edition. While the hardly subtle Track Edition doesn’t gain any newfound power, it takes the lightweighting and handling file and runs with it. Up front, a carbon fiber splitter increases downforce, while a mighty carbon fiber wing offers more of a downward shove than the active spoiler found on the lesser coupe. 58 pounds more, Lexus claims.

Image: Toyota

On the Track Edition, the goal of Lexus engineers was to reduce unsprung weight wherever possible, resulting in carbon ceramic brake rotors, lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels, a carbon fiber hood and roof, and titanium muffler and tailpipes. All told, the Track Edition upgrades and those found on the RC F slim the sportier car’s curb weight by 176 pounds.

With launch control engaged, Lexus claims drivers can make the dash to 60 mph in as little as 3.96 seconds. Be of no doubt that engineers couldn’t go home until a sub four-second 0-60 figure was achieved.

Inside, red is the color of the day. Much like the quite dissimilar ES F Sport I drove a few weeks back, red leather and trim is what Lexus uses to tell occupants they’re special. For the limited few signing up for a Track Edition, an available exclusive exterior shade will telegraph their uniqueness to passers-by (assuming they can’t spot the wing). Matte Nebula Gray is that color.

Image: Toyota

As titanium and carbon fiber are not exactly bargain bin materials, expect a considerable price hike for the ultimate RC. What’ll it cost you? Who knows. Pricing isn’t available until closer to the duo’s second-quarter 2019 on-sale date.

Lexus unveiled the new RC Fs at a time when coupes are becoming an increasingly scarce breed. After going on sale in late 2015, buyers made the following year, 2015, the RC’s best sales year to date. By 2017, U.S. volume was half of 2015’s, and 2018 didn’t bring about any change to the RC’s downward  sales trajectory. Maybe the hottest RC F will also be the last?

[Images: Toyota]

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23 Comments on “2020 Lexus RC F and RC F Track Edition: Driving Machines for a Dwindling Market...”


  • avatar
    afedaken

    More powah than the new Supra. 400 Lbs Heavier, but 100 horses up. At $64k asking, it’s sure to be cross-shopped.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Still fat and automatic.

  • avatar
    analogman

    Now if only they would offer a manual transmission in this car, I think they’d actually sell a bunch more. Including one to me.

    As it is, no manual transmission = no chance I would ever even remotely consider buying one.

    I know all the ‘statistics’ about how few cars are sold with manual transmissions. But to me, a sports/sporty car is all about *feel*. It has to be fun to drive. I don’t care if a DCT can shift faster than the speed of light. No slushbox, and especially silly PlayStation ‘paddle’ shifters, will ever be as much fun as a stick.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “I know all the ‘statistics’ about how few cars are sold with manual transmissions. But to me, a sports/sporty car is all about *feel*. It has to be fun to drive. I don’t care if a DCT can shift faster than the speed of light. No slushbox, and especially silly PlayStation ‘paddle’ shifters, will ever be as much fun as a stick.”

      Keep telling yourself all that.

      In the meantime, I’ll go out and have a hoot in my DSG-equipped GTI.

      I bet you still call that a “slushbox”.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      What’s the last new ~$64K car you bought?

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Nice to see they finally gave up on the Nike Swoosh turn signals.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Taking weight out of a car is always good. My problem with the RC-F is Lexus tactic to only offer the V8 in very pricy packages that will sell in miniscule numbers. Bring the time when you could order the V8 on a regular GS, like my GS400. That’s how you build real street presence, offer a sleeper for a reasonable price.

  • avatar
    Bazza

    Not the successor to the IS-F that I was looking for. Too heavy and not worth the markup, even when it was first released; even less so now.

  • avatar
    ttiguy

    ATS-V, M4, RS5 and Merc’s C-whatever AMG will all continue to destroy this over-styled and under-engineered poser ride. I’m guessing the most direct competitor would be the Infinity Q50 red sport coupe but that’s about it. The track edition is especially funny looking IMO

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Does the ATS-V even exist any more? LOL

      I think the only car on your list even close to track ready is the M4… but for that money you can buy or even do a ground up build. $60K into a C6 or 997 will be a track killer, while still being daily driveable.

      • 0 avatar
        ttiguy

        If you think this turd is equal with the 4 cars I referenced, in all phases, then you are completely ignorant to the segment. But, whatever, enjoy your “sporty Accord”

        • 0 avatar
          Brock_Landers

          Yeah, RS5 handles like a trash can on wheels, its front heavy, numb, lifeless and without emotion. Yes – luxurious and fast on a straight line, but that is it. AMG Mercs are for poseurs and no-one races them on track. M4 and Track edition RC-F are the only cars you can take on track and enjoy. And RC-F is the only car that doesn’t break down doing that.

          So ttiguy how does all that sound? List of half-truths that sound plausible? Because that’s what it is and that is how you sound. Why bother? What car are you driving yourself? Do you even have a driver’s licence?

          https://www.carmagazine.co.uk/car-reviews/comparison/2016/giant-test-2016-ford-mustang-vs-lexus-rcf-vs-bmw-m4-car-review/

          • 0 avatar
            ttiguy

            Brock_Landers

            2017 Cadillac ATS-V coupe 6mt. Taken it to the track 4-5 times in the 2 years I’ve owned it. Does that meet your criteria tough guy? LOL

            WHAT ARE YOU DRIVING SLICK?

  • avatar
    Mr.EpMini9

    Lexus has always been one of my favorite brands and I’m quite pleased with the steps they are taking. It maybe small but it will lead to much better things in the future. Keep on moving, Lexus!

  • avatar
    Johnster

    I’ve always thought that the Lexus LC was the spiritual successor to the SC400 and SC430, while the Lexus RC is the spiritual successor to the SC300 and Supra.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Agreed…except it’s not. The right answer would have been to spend the money they spent on that BMW thing they put Supra badges on on sourcing a manual and fitting a turbo to the 3.5 and some nice body touches and placed Supra badges on it.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Also the 300/400 were both very closely related to the Supra. The 430 was where the wheels began to fall off.

      • 0 avatar
        Noble713

        The Supra fanboys would have lost their minds if Toyota didn’t include an inline-6 engine. A turbo 3.5L V6 would definitely be dead on arrival. Not to mention that it’s not a particularly popular platform for aftermarket tuning either (where the MkIV Supra really earned its fame).

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    The swoopy creases can’t quite hide the porky, the corporate truck motor – but short-stroked – is the fast one. Cadillac?

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    Weight weight weight, no 4000lbs or even 35000lbs car is going to be taken seriously in any type of track enviroment, or run more than a few laps without wilting.

    Its ironic that electrics because of battery weight are bringing in stiff strong and light chassis, but that tech is not being applied to ice cars. What would an i8 be like with no batteries and a great turbo 6? Thats a supra.

    For daily use a crossover beats a sedan on multiple levels, the crossover drawbacks in terms of dynamics is just not relevant or really measurable for road use. So where do cars shine, for the sporty folks. Yet here we get eps at and weight. What sporty car driver wants those features.

    There are probably 20k-30k cars sold anualy to people who go to the track for de vents (ocasionaly) etc, thats your win on sunday sell on monday crowd in the 2ks. Want to be taken seriously make a car that works there. GT86 too slow. Camaro too heavy. Mustang Gt350R gets away with it sort of. Porche has it licked with the cayman and 911(gt3). Those 3000 cars per year (cayman and Gt3) are the halo that sells the rest of 911’s and boxters, and why 80% of porche sales are premium priced Vw suvs.

    The halo from there lets you sell the rest. However slapping some badges stiffer suspension and loosing a little lard of a pig may fool some people, but its not enough and really only fooling the manufacturer.

    Lexus is a crossover manufactuerer who makes one large marshmellow standout sedan, and one expensive well styled two door coupe which no one buys, the rest is forgettable.

    Schitzofrenia rules car manufactuers. they want to bring in electrics/autonomy, but it turns out higher end ice cars are still an emotional purchase and thats what generates the $$$. How to inject emotion into your brand. You need something exciting, a sportscar from which the rest of your lineup can claim some exciting cred and styling cues. but that means building one or two real sportscars, and multiple variants of that platform. Multiple variants of your sportscar platform because even then most sportscars are selling the Gt not the track version.

    If porche can do it with the 911 variants and cayman/boxter variants so can toyota. But you need a sportscar platform to start with.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Correct. This thing is still too heavy. After 6 years of track days I can’t recall ever seeing a Lexus of any kind out there. I have however seen folks tossing Audi and Benz Wagons around.

  • avatar
    Shawnski

    Heavy, ugly, comfy but a TuRD.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Build a 2 door version…It would likely be a better Supra than the Supra.

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