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When Lexus decided to go head-to-head with BMW’s M brand and Mercedes-AMG, it knew it was an uphill battle. With models like the IS F, GS F and the RC F, Lexus has proved that it can do more than build exceptionally quiet, well built sedans, but can the F models really compete with the Germans? Lexus dropped off a 2017 Lexus RC F in bright Molten Pearl for me to find out.

2017 Lexus RC F Review

The RC F is a beast

With today’s downsizing trend, it’s rare to find a naturally-aspirated V8 on the options list, but that doesn’t matter for Lexus. The Lexus RC F is powered by a naturally-aspirated 5.0L V8 with a healthy 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft. of torque. Even though the engine is missing some of the more immediate torque that you’d get with a turbocharged engine, that doesn’t mean that the 5.0L V8 is a slug . The 5.0L V8 has a raw feeling that reminds you of muscle cars from the past and once you wind it up, it’s ready to eat the pavement. Select Sport S+ mode and you’re greeted by a nice growl that will easily wake up your neighbors.

2017 Lexus RC F Review

F stands for Fun

The Lexus F line, is the equivalent to BMW’s M sub-brand or Mercedes-AMG. But unlike BMW and Mercedes-Benz, most of the F-branded Lexus models simply get a sportier body kit and wheels. But then, there’s the RC F, which gets all the bells and whistles to turn the RC coupe into a grand tourer.

The RC F is based on the same platform as the standard RC coupe, but compared to the standard RC, the RC F gets a wider body, flared fenders, quad exhaust tips and a more aggressive front fascia.

2017 Lexus RC F Review

It can behave

Its styling and large V8 may say otherwise, but the RC F is comfortable as an everyday coupe. There are five driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport S and Sport S+) to suite almost every driving mood. Eco mode that softens, numbs and mutes all the insanity. Its suspension will swallow most of the roads imperfections without shaking your organs, like some other sports cars. The Eco mode was great when you’re cruising down the highway, but for the most part I wanted to behave “badly” so I kept it in Sport S+.

Sport S+ modifies the Adaptive Variable Suspension, in addition to improving the throttle response, but if that’s a bit too much, the Sport and and Sport S modes at least make the powertrain a little more responsive. In the Eco and Normal modes, the 8-speed automatic transmission can be a little slow to respond.

2017 Lexus RC F Review

“Wow that’s a Lexus?”

I was shocked to see how many positive comments I got about the RC F. A Porsche owner stopped me at the grocery store to talk about how much she loved the way it looked and how she wanted the color. Another friend commented on how sexy and fun the RC F looked, while another friend wouldn’t stop talking about the sound of the V8.

Just sitting in a parking lot, the RC F looks mean and heavy, like a bully just waiting to pounce on you. It’s refreshing to see that a car doesn’t have to have a European badge for people to take notice, especially in BMW-loving Beverly Hills.

2017 Lexus RC F Review

What about the M4?

Lexus did go after the BMW M4 with the RC F, but in some ways it slightly missed its target. For starters the RC F is big and heavy, which not only makes it slower the M4, but also not nearly as fun on the track. The RC F reaches 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, while the M4 can do it in 3.8 seconds with the Competition Package.

The RC F’s extra weight also makes it not as fun in the twisties and it’s standard eight-speed automatic transmission isn’t as quick as the M4’s seven-speed dual-clutch unit. Where the RC F shines over the M4 is its ability to be more relaxed once you’re at speed. It’s interior is quieter and the more relaxed suspension is more ideal for longer trips.

Should you buy it?

Pricing for the 2017 Lexus FC F starts at $64,165, which is probably out of the price range for most sports car enthusiasts. If you can swallow that price tag, you’ll be rewarded with a fun, yet refined muscle car. It’s a bit heavier and less responsive than the BMW M4, but it’s a great alternative to the BMW.