Sometimes, more power is less fun
You likely have heard that “less is more.” I find that to be so true in the case of Lexus’ SC coupe. Except it needs to be stated backwards: “more is less.”
A few weeks ago, I drove the 2017 Lexus RC200t, primarily because I was curious about the company’s 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder 8AR-FTS engine. The little engine that could, it pumps out 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, with torque at its peak all the way from 1,650-4,000 rpm, right where you want — and need — it.
I might have loved the coupe a lot had I not, just a week earlier, driven the Lexus IS200t, a four-door sedan powered by the same engine.
Much to my surprise, I found the sedan more fun to drive than the sportier-looking coupe. That made no sense — until I dived into the specifications sheet and discovered that the 2-door coupe weighed 154 pounds more than the 4-door sedan, and actually probably considerably more than that since it also carried the weight of more than $12,000 in optional equipment.
The coupe also was heavier when it came to price — by nearly $8,100.
Which brings us to the 2017 Lexus RC F, which carries a 5.0-liter V8. Yes, the base price of the RC F is more than $11K higher than the turbo-4 coupe, but for that price you also get a whopping 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque.
Except you also get 221 pounds of extra weight for the rear wheels to push around, and if you look at the specs sheet, you discover that the V8 doesn’t provide its peak horsepower until you’ve revved it to the rare-air of 7,100 rpm. And if you want to take advantage of all that torque, you have to spin the mill to between 4,800 and 5,600 rpm.
Now, 7,100 rpm is fine if you’re on a race track, but it’s an impractical target for driving on public roads or freeways.
Yes, the SC F offers the driver an optional Sport setting that enhances shift points, etc., but 7,100 rpm remains a distant number unless you really want to drive it like you stole it.
Perhaps it has to do with my age and the target audience for such a vehicle, but the laptop-style touch pad controller on the center console seems either too sensitive or not sensitive enough as I attempted to use it to manipulate the navigation screen or to change radio sources and stations. At least there were old-fashioned knobs to adjust radio volume and to change stations.
On the other hand, the car is quite stylish; has wonderful soft-touch materials in its seats, door panels and arm rests; amazing (though optional) Mark Levinson 825-watt sound system; and has a much larger trunk than its even-more-expensive cousin, the Lexus LC 500h.
2017 Lexus RC F
Vehicle type: 4-passenger rear-wheel drive coupe
Base price: $64,165 Price as tested: $80,466
Engine: 5.0-liter V8, 467 horsepower @ x 7,100 rpm, 389 pound-feet of torque @ 4,800 – 5,600 rpm Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 107.5 inches Overall length/width: 185.2 inches / 72.6 inches (mirrors folded)
Curb weight: 3,958 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 16 city / 25 highway / 19 combined
Assembled in: Tahara, Aichi, Japan