Here’s Why The 2019 Lexus RC F Is Not A Total Flop [Op/Ed]

In a video he published back in July 2018, Doug DeMuro said the Lexus RC F was a total flop. His review cited the Lexus’ relatively poor sales figures, as well as claimed the M4 is a better performer overall. Here are some direct quotes from that episode:

“It’s a little bit hard sometimes to tell apart the RC F with the big V8 from the base model, the RC 350.”

“It’s for people who are maybe a little bit too old for the M4.”

“Lexus could make a car that is better than the M4 but the problem is that Lexus simply refuses to commit to making such a car.”

“Lexus’ F brand seems to be devolving into cosmetic options designed to make the RX crossover look sporty, which it isn’t.”

Tommy and I thought this was an unduly harsh assessment of the Lexus RC F. So we set out to explain why Doug DeMuro is, in fact, wrong about Lexus’ performance coupe. To our minds, it hasn’t been a total flop. The Lexus RC F is a great car when taken in the proper context.

Let’s address these one by one, starting with styling

If you take a look at the RC F next to the RC350, you’ll come to find that almost every single body panel is different. The only exception we could find is the doors. However, the hood, front bumper, grille, rear bumper, roof, front fenders, wheels, brake calipers, spoiler, and exhaust are all unique to the RC F. As a result, the car has slightly different dimensions than its non-F counterparts. The Lexus RC F is 0.2-inches longer, 0.2-inches wider, and 0.4-inches lower than the regular RC 350. When compared side-by-side, the RC-F looks very different from the RC 350, there is no mistaking the two.

How about Lexus refusing to commit to performance?

Let’s look back to 2011, when Lexus debuted a car called the LFA. The LFA was a marvel of engineering, featuring carbon body panels, an ungodly 4.8-liter V10 engine, and performance figures to match the best supercars of that era.

That car had a tumultuous development. Originally, the car was crafted with metal bodywork. However, Lexus decided to scrap the metal and go for carbon fiber instead. While that venture didn’t make money for the company, it was a jumping off point. Lexus took lessons from that car and incorporated them into its other performance models, including the RC F.

F-Sport turning into “purely cosmetic options”?

Something that Tommy and I found to be particularly cool about the RC F (and one of the few areas where we agreed with Doug) was the engine. Under the hood is a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 that makes 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft of torque. Doug said it didn’t sound amazing, we disagree there as well. Furthermore, the F Sport models, slotted beneath the full F models, do pack more than just appearance options. Going beyond that, all the large German manufacturers – BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz – offer a sport package beneath their full-blown performance lines.

Doug went on to complain that the torque-converter 8-speed automatic transmission in the Lexus limited its performance. Well, we now live in a time where 8-speed transmissions can shift quicker and more smoothly as their dual-clutch counterparts. Heck, the BMW M5 now uses an 8-speed torque-converter automatic to send its 600 horsepower to the wheels.

It’s Not Trying to Hide that It’s a Lexus

Doug seemed to keep harping on the Lexus for not being as fast as the BMW M4. That’s coming from the angle that Lexus expected to dethrone the M4. I think it is much more likely that Lexus understood that M4 buyers would keep buying the M4. They decided instead to make a car with similar amounts of straight line speed, but with a much more comfortable daily driving experience.

The interior is a masterclass in driver-centric design. It feels upscale, luxurious, sporty, and well-thought-out. Spending time behind the driver’s seat is not only fun, but also infinitely comfy.

I think the real problem is that Doug asked the wrong question in his video. Really, Doug was asking if the Lexus RC F is better than the M4. To which the answer, for many, is ‘no’. However, to say the RC-F is a total flop is harsh, and in many ways inaccurate.