Bland. Bland is non-threatening, inoffensive and uncontroversial. Sure, some people may find it dull or unattractive, but not in a disturbing way. It’s just bland. Boring.
The Lexus RC F is not bland. It’s a compact performance luxury coupe introduced for 2015 to take on the likes of BMW’s legendary M4, Cadillac’s ATS-V, and the soon-to-arrive 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 coupe – a pulse-quickening lineup of rivals. It was built from the components of three existing models, with the front end of the Lexus GS sedan, the floorpan of the Lexus IS C convertible (reinforced at the sills for increased rigidity), and a rear end adapted from the Lexus IS sedan.
To give the RC F performance credentials well beyond its garden-variety RC 300 and RC 350 siblings, Lexus engineers dropped in the same hairy-chested 5.0L V8 used in the Lexus GS F and soon-to-arrive LC 500, driving the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission and backed up by a stiffed chassis, performance-tuned suspension and massive Brembo brakes. To visually differentiate the RC F from its lesser siblings, Lexus apparently brought in all the designers involved with the GS sedan, the IS C convertible and the IS sedan, and told each of them to come up with an aggressive or fast-looking stylistic detail to add on to the basic RC profile.
The resulting car, which carries over essentially unchanged for 2016, is perfect for those who believe that too much is never enough. Up front is a gaping spindle grille flanked by massive brake cooling inlets, with a domed and scooped aluminum hood sitting between unique flared and gill-slitted front fenders. Moving back, bulging rocker sills echo aggressive character lines at the rear bumper, below which there are quad-stacked tailpipes, and above which is a speed-activated pop-up wing, with the whole package riding on some beautifully detailed but rather curb-vulnerable 19-inch alloy wheels.
The overall effect, at least in my test car’s Solar Flare orange paint, looks rather like someone carved up a King Kong-sized mango during a game of live Fruit Ninja. That said, the various elements do successfully tie together into a cohesive whole – especially in some of the more subdued paint colours on offer – and the RC F is definitely attention getting, if a little polarizing (mostly the 30-and-under set loved it, but the 35-plus set not so much). Vancouver’s Lamborghini-driving high school students gave it favourable reviews, so clearly Lexus is onto something (and if you find it all a bit much, you can always pony up for the drop-dead gorgeous Lexus LC 500 coupe).
Under the sheetmetal: Engineering Emotion in the Lexus GS F
Inside, the RC F distinguishes itself with a richly-appointed interior featuring superbly comfortable (and good looking) perforated leather front sport seats that hold you firmly in place during spirited cornering without constricting you when cruising around town. A high, full-length centre console lends an fighter-jet ambiance to the cockpit, but no fighter jet was ever fitted out this lavishly: in standard trim, the RC F features a soft-top dash, stitched Alcantara suede instrument hood, Alcantara console top and armrests, aluminized fibreglass weave trim (carbon fibre trim is available with the performance package), brushed aluminum inserts, upholstered console sides and cloth-wrapped pillars. The only bits that appear to have caught the attention of the accounting department are the the park brake, which is an old-school pedal-operated unit, and the door lowers and lower dash, which use standard rigid plastic.