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Carbon Conundrum: The 2021 Lexus RC F

2021 Lexus RC F front 3/4 view

It's been a year and a half since the last time I was behind the wheel of a Lexus RC F. I had nothing but positive memories and was excited about more seat time.

2021 Lexus RC F rear 3/4 view

It was only when I saw the window sticker that I started wondering just what had happened here. The 2020 Lexus RC F I drove was loaded and had an as-tested price of $80,014. This one stickered at $90,705. That's a $10,691 difference. And it all comes from one option.

2021 Lexus RC F hood up

2021 Lexus RC F engine

So, the basics. The 2021 RC F is still a Batmobile you can buy from your local Lexus dealer, with the same 5.0-liter V8 that lives inside the stunning LC 500 convertible and coupe, but making one more horsepower, for a total of 472. Sixty miles an hour from a standing start? A mere 4.4 seconds. Eight speed automatic transmission, Torsen limited-slip differential, launch control. And the brakes necessary to rein all that in. EPA fuel economy estimate 16 miles per gallon city, 24 highway because---you know---power.

Short version---the RC F is a total blast to drive. It's like a street-legal race car.

2021 Lexus RC F trunk open

2021 Lexus RC F rear seats

There's a decent trunk. The back seat---let's just say that the shorter you are, the more your passengers back there will like it.

2021 Lexus RC F front seats

2021 Lexus RC F front seat detail

2021 Lexus RC F instrument panel

The base price of the 2021 Lexus RC F is $65,875. That's only a mild bump from last year's $64,900, and it comes with a chunk of standard equipment. Check the window sticker at the end of this review for the particulars.

2021 Lexus RC F steering wheel and gauge cluster

2021 Lexus RC F gauge cluster

2021 Lexus RC F center stack

So, about that one option that shot this car's as-tested price up more than ten grand over last year's. See that herringbone pattern to the right of the climate controls? That's carbon fiber. Our test vehicle had the Carbon Package, which adds that interior trim plus a carbon fiber roof, front spoiler, rocker panel splitters, diffuser, and a speed-activated wing. It's a lot of carbon fiber. It's $11,400. The reason the math still seems off is that the Carbon Package folds in Intuitive Parking Assist, which was a $500 stand-alone option last year. Carbon fiber has always been pricey---in fact, it costs less now than it did a decade ago, when Lexus wouldn't have dared to put as much of it into a package for their cars. It's great-looking stuff. It absolutely makes the RC F pop, especially set off against a bright color like our tester's Flare Yellow. But whether it's a worthwhile expense or not is entirely your decision.

2021 Lexus RC F front view

2021 Lexus RC F side view

2021 Lexus RC F rear view

The good news is that with or without the Carbon Package, the 2021 Lexus RC F is one helluva performance car. As with all things V8-powered, this kind of fun is only going to last so long. Don't end up kicking yourself for waiting too long to own one new.


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