First Impressions

When I went to pick up this car I was pretty excited, as I had truly loved the RC F and will not forget the NZ launch at Highlands Park anytime soon. But upon seeing the RC F Carbon Edition for the first time, I was a quite taken aback by how…… boy racer this car looked, with its naked carbon fibre bonnet, roof and spoiler. The roof and spoiler were ok, and could have gone unnoticed as they blended so well into the overall design, and are quite common or other performance coupes. But that bonnet, was not something you could miss very easily.



The standard RC F has a high class european feel interior, and one of the most comfortable performance seats I’ve tested. The Interior feels like a Lexus should, it’s clean and sophisticated. However the Carbon version oozes a bit more of a performance feel with some subtle changes. You get Alcantara lining on the seats and doors and brushed metal inlays are replaced with…you guessed it, carbon fibre. It still bears the normal 2+2 traits, unless the driver is under 6ft the rear seats are just very very fancy shelves. But for the engaged driver, you feel right at home inside. The high centre console gives the passenger and driver seats a sunken feeling, allowing the dash to fully wrap around you. You feel at one with the car, and everything is where you expect it to be, just within reach.


The one thing that Lexus has done, and I choose my words carefully, but better than the vast majority of performance cars on the market, is to focus the sound into the cabin. And there is no half assed speaker nonsense here, it’s all raw engine noise. This is thanks to the endless development that went into its Father, the LFA. The engine noise/vibrations of the 5.0L V8 (which produces 352Kw) are allowed to travel into the cabin through the structure of the vehicle, focusing it into the cabin for your driving pleasure. And OH MY GOD, the sound is amazing. I can quite confidently say, that there is no other V8 on the market at this level and price that sounds this good. But it’s almost too good. I only say this as this was the first review car that I have ever had to refuel, and I did not have to refuel it the one time either. The noise is so intoxicating it makes you want more and more and more. To put it in another way, you almost felt like you needed a smoke after driving it. But herein lies the issue with the carbon, as you get the nice interior minus some fancy fabric and carbon panels and all of this orgamsmic sound from the the normal RC F, for $15k less. Would you pay the difference?

The Drive – The City

Around town, this car reminded me a lot of the Audi R8 I used to own. Everyone looked at you. But it’s not because of the same reasons they looks at the R8. Because you found that most people were left with a bit of a puzzled look on their face after seeing this crystal white car, with a naked carbon bonnet, something you only ever really see on boy racers cars. Apart from that driving around town was no harder or different to the standard RC F. Both drive like very sensible, easy to drive coupes, which is exactly what you want if it’s a daily driver.


The Drive – The Country

The weekend was closing in, and I decided to give some of my driving buddies a shout to see if they were keen for a jaunt up and over the Rimutaka Hill and out to cafe at Lake Ferry. Sadly a lot of them were busy, but Mark came along in his series 2 Lotus Elise. We left early, so to avoid any traffic, and as luck would have it, we got a clear run up the hill. The heavy lexus was out in front and the nimble Lotus was right behind. It was time to see what this TVD (Electronic Torque Vectoring Differential) could really do. After switching it to Slalom, the hammer was dropped and away we went. This was the first time since driving the  RCF with the TVD that I actually felt it do something. The RC F and Carbon are both very heavy cars, but the TVD makes a big difference.


And it’s the main reason behind all the carbon, as the extra weight added by the two electric motors in the TVD, is offset by all the carbon panels. I was very confidently able to power through a lot of the corners on up the hill, pushing away from the Lotus on the straights, and having him catch up due to his ability for late braking. But that being said, Greg said after we got to the top, if there was room to overtake, there wasn’t even a chance to make it past, the Lexus was keeping good pace over the Lotus all the way up. On the way up the hill you could feel the rear of the car cornering, more than you were. And where it felt like the car should have let go, it didn’t, the TVD just corrected it. The good part of this is that you can feel it at work, it’s not just something it sorts out. I have had heavy cars up and over this hill many times, and this was by far the best handling one. Even though the Lexus is a big coupe, you felt almost as nimble and able to change direction as quickly as the Lotus.

What it’s up against

As I stated in the RC F review, Lexus have impressively taken on one of the toughest and most revered sections in the market, and you have to have a good set of brass ones if you are planning on going up against the mighty Germans and the very best they have to offer. With the standard RC F, Lexus have offered up something the Germans should be a bit concerned about as it’s a very serious contender. One of the biggest factors being the 5.0L NA V8 they are running, which sounds amazing, and when you compare this to BMW M4’s V6 turbo engine, it leaves the BMW blushing. AMG have never dropped the ball in terms of sounds, and still pack eye-watering V8 engines in their C63 AMG Coupe, but have a bit more of a sophisticated interior sound when the windows are up. Lexus have stepped up and things were going well, but with regards to the RC F Carbon they looked left and stepped right and stood on the garden rake, letting the handle smack them right in the face. If boy racers and tuners are over this fad, why should they think it’s a good idea to suddenly offer it years later. I just can’t see many people, if any wanting one of these cars over the regular slick model, or over any of the other manufacturers’ options.


Performance 2+2 Coupes

Brand / Model Engine Power Fuel L/100km 0-100 km/h Price Highest to Lowest
Porsche 911 Carrera 3.8 L Flat 6 257 Kw / 440 Nm 8.2 L / 100km 4.6 sec $205,500
Jaguar XKR 5.0 L V8 375 Kw / 625 Nm 12.3 L / 100km 4.8 sec $195,000
Lexus RC F Carbon 5.0 L V8 351 Kw / 530 Nm 10.9 L / 100km 4.5 sec $174,900
BMW M4 3.0 L Twin Turbo V6 317 Kw / 550 Nm 8.3 L / 100km 4.1 sec $169,900
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe 6.2 L AMG V8 336 Kw / 600 Nm 12.1 L / 100km 4.1 sec $168,900
Audi RS5 4.2 L FSI V8 quattro 331 Kw / 430 Nm 10.5 L / 100km 4.5 sec $165,900
Lexus RC F 5.0 L V8 351 Kw / 530 Nm 10.9 L / 100km 4.5 sec $159,900



Pros Cons
  • It’s fast, and handles well, very fun to drive.
  • The Torque Diff is an amazing piece of kit for just going out for a good weekend drive
  • Can’t beat the sound of that 5.0L V8 engine, even better in Sports mode.
  • Great driving position/interior cabin
  • Very smooth and quiet when you drive it like a sensible person.
  • Speed-deployed spoiler, hard to say that’s not cool.
  • More expensive than the competition, you’d have to be mad to want one.
  • Drinks like a fish, but you probably won’t care.
  • Back seats are useless if the driver is  over 6 ft tall.
  • Naked Carbon bonnet ……. unless you’re 16 years old and wear a cap backwards, you’re going to look a bit odd getting in and out of it.


What do we think ?

As I said before, Lexus has themselves a solid performer here, however the raw carbon bonnet is not really working, It should at least come with a body painted carbon bonnet, so you get the benefit from the Torque Diff without the extra weight and without looking like you’re always going out to some underground street race. It still goes like a bat out of hell, and is up there as being one of the best sounding cars I have tested. The Torque Diff depends on what you’re looking for, if you want to thrash it on the track and you’re not worried about every technical detail and just want to have fun, the Torque Diff is for you. If you want to be in control, and fine tune your skills, the standard RC F might be a better option in the long run. Lexus had the right ingredients in the standard RCF, why they felt it needed a raw carbon bonnet is beyond me. And then to ask for another $15,000 on top of the normal price, taking the RC F Carbon well above the big German market, leaving you with a lot of very nice and cheaper options. If I was given one, I would keep it, but I would paint the bonnet.  



Rating – Chevron rating 3.5 out of 5

2015 Lexus RC F Carbon

Vehicle Type Front Engine, RWD Sports Coupe
Starting Price $ 174,900 NZD
Tested Price $ 174,900 NZD
Engine 5.0L V8, 2UR-GSE, 32-valve Quad Cam with Dual VVT-i
Transmission 8 Speed SPDS (Sport Direct Shift) Automatic
0 – 100 kph 4.5 seconds
Kerb Weight 1795 kg
Length x Width x Height 4750 x 1845 x 1390 mm
Cargo Capacity 366 Litres
Fuel Tank 66 litres
Fuel Efficiency Combined – 10.9 L/100km (but in real life, way more)
ANCAP Safety Ratings Yet to be tested


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John Galvin (JSG)
It started at a young age with bedroom posters, the Countach of course. This slowly grew into a super car die-cast model collection, fifty five 1:18 models at the last count. At which point it had almost taken full control, the incurable Mad Car Disease ran deep though my veins all the way to the bone. And things for my loved ones just got worse as the cars where now being bought at 1:1 scale, after a BMW, HSV, and couple of Audi's, the disease reached my brain, pushing me over the edge and down the rabbits hole into the world of the bedroom poster.


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