2015 Lexus RC F

2015 Lexus RC F

Episode 3430 , Episode 3444
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

Now stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Lexus, known for purveying ultra-plush luxury, is now stepping into the performance ring. Okay, so it’s not their first, or even second attempt to shed the soft image for a harder-core one. But, will the results be any different? Let’s hit the track in the new Lexus RC F and find out. 

So up until now, Lexus performance, with the exception of the limited production and very exotic LFA, has been more like a karate chop at a gun fight. But this 2015 Lexus RC F coupe just might even the odds. 

Indeed, after 3-days of relentless round-da-rounds at the hands of our test team, we can say the RC F definitely has the goods to take on a road course; impressing all of our drivers with a great V8 bark, and nimble chassis bite to back it up. 

That V8 is a 5.0-liter with roots that go back to the IS F sedan. Much tweaking has been done since then however, and output is now 467-horsepower and 389 lb-ft. of torque. 

As a rear driver only, the transmission is a beefed up, 8-speed direct shift automatic that worked very well through Roebling Road’s nine turns, even when left in straight-up auto mode.  

While clearly based on the RC 350, Lexus claims that 70% of the RC F’s suspension componentry is new or updated.

Another value added feature is the available torque vectoring rear differential that makes a huge impact on both the RC F’s performance and personality, helping put maximum power to the pavement in corners when in Track mode. Left in Standard mode, it feels like an entirely different vehicle that likes to power-on oversteer more than cling to an apex.  

At around 4,000-pounds, the RC F is certainly no lightweight. But it feels and responds much lighter. Through the corners, the bolstered RC F sport seats kept our drivers squarely in place. Yet, they still delivered the comfort that Lexus owners demand.

Though overall highly capable, we could do with less initial understeer at turn-ins. And, the quietness of the RC F’ proficiency makes it less exciting to drive than we’d hoped.

But, those are nitpicks. If there’s one significant weak point, it’s the brakes. Initially they felt great. But after only a few laps, they grew soft and uninspiring.

Off the turns, and on the straight, this raucous V8 also proved its metal. It loves to rev. There’s not as big a hit of torque right off the line as you might expect, but rather a nice build that gets you fast rather quickly. 0 to 60 takes just 4.4-seconds.

Despite relying on a true automatic for transmission duties and not a sequential manual; shifts are quick and smooth, with power mostly uninterrupted. Helping us clear the ¼ in 12.8-seconds at 114 miles-per-hour.  

Body enhancements galore certainly make the RC F a stand out. There are plenty of both air inlets and outlets, an active rear wing, optional carbon fiber roof, and stacked exhaust tips that give the hind quarters a truly maniacal look. 

Its stance is both wider and lower than the RC 350, and you have a choice among 3-different 19-inch wheel patterns. Tire width is staggered, with 255/35s up front and 275/35s in back. 

Despite the comfy seats, the overall interior comes off tighter than a typical Lexus buyer would be accustomed to. But, then, this is everything but a typical Lexus. Still, the usual leather coverings, high quality materials, and high-tech niceties are mostly included. 

An F-specific gauge set alters screens depending on driving mode, and the multi-information-display hosts a wealth of info including lap times and even rear wing position. 

Now, the real bonus. Even with all of its track prowess, the RC F is also a pleasant street car. The ride is never harsh, and great chassis response means you don’t have to be driving super-fast to enjoy yourself. Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 16-City, 25-Highway, and 19-Combined. 

RC F pricing starts at $63,325. That undercuts the benchmark BMW M4 by about 2-grand. 

And the F story certainly won’t end here, as Lexus recently debuted a bigger and badder GS F Sedan at the North American International Auto Show. 

But, back to the M4. The 2015 Lexus RC F may be a bit cheaper, but is it also a close contender? Well, we think it is surprisingly close on the street, and yes, on the track as well. Who ever thought we would say that! And that is just how far Lexus performance has come. 

Specifications

  • Engine: 5.0 liter
  • Horsepower: 467
  • Torque: 389 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 4.4 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 12.8 seconds @ 114 mph
  • EPA: 16 mpg city/ 25 mpg highway
2023 BMW 330i xDrive 1

2023 BMW 330i xDrive

The Standard Bearer Is Still Bearing The Standard

Episode 4302
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

The BMW 3-Series has been a luxury sport sedan standard bearer for most of its 7 generations. Well, it’s not time for an all-new 8th gen just yet, but BMW has done some significant updating to this current sedan. So, let’s see how they’re staying ahead of the curve.

While it’s easy to see the slow decline in sedan sales continuing as SUVs take up more and more market share, it’s also easy for us to always see a place for the European style sport sedan. If not in dealer showrooms, certainly in our motor oil pumping hearts. 2023 sees an updated BMW 3 Series sedan with better looks, better tech, and better performance.

Never satisfied to leave well enough alone, BMW has again tweaked the 3’s face, with slimmer headlights, ever more prominent air intakes, and yet another take on their classic twin kidney grille. There are multiple M Sport packages available, adding 19-inch M Sport wheels to replace the standard 18s, adaptive suspension, variable sport steering, M Sport brakes with blue calipers, and black trim.

2023 BMW 330i xDrive 10
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Ever since they crammed a 2.0-liter M10 into 1968’s 2002, BMW has seemingly been on a mission to maximize 4-cylinder power delivery and reliability. Their latest 2.0-liter turbo-4 in the 330i outputs 255-horsepower and 295-lb-ft. of torque. The 382-horsepower 6-cylinder remains available in the M340i, and there’s a 288-horsepower 330e PHEV as well.

This 2.0-liter is paired with the familiar 8-speed automatic transmission; the entire package is smooth and punches above its weight, delivering big hits of torque off the line with barely a hint of turbo lag. We hit 60 in 5.1-seconds with the help of launch control.

The ¼-mile passed in 13.7-seconds at 102 miles-per-hour. The engine sounded powerful and aggressive as it eagerly revved to redline, where each shift of the automatic transmission gave a nice little surge of additional power. xDrive all-wheel-drive is optional and not only does it provide extra grip for launching, but additional traction when it comes to handling as well. With the M Sport package, the suspension feels tight and the ride is quite firm; perhaps a bit much for our aging bodies, but you won’t be complaining when scooting down your favorite driving road, or shuffling through a handling course. It felt ever more athletic when whipping in and out of the cones of our slalom, with just a hint of understeer showing up at its limits. Steering is incredibly quick, but still has an artificial feel that takes some getting used to. There is very little body roll to contend with. In our braking runs, a nice firm pedal and great overall stability made for quick 103 foot stops from 60, rock steady all the way.

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BMW has truly upped their interior comfort game in recent years, and everything inside this updated 3 looks great and feels nicely finished. Twin screens, 12.3-inches behind the steering wheel for instruments, and 14.9-inch for infotainment, now flow into one another as part of BMW’s curved dash display. While it works well enough, this latest iDrive 8 may be a step back, as very few manual controls remain, and you seemingly have to do more menu diving than before for anything other than basic climate and audio controls. Dash vents are now slimmer, and the console gets a redesign with, for better or worse, a new toggle lever instead of an actual shifter for controlling the transmission. Steering wheel-mounted shifters are also standard; M Sport adds a unique wheel and aluminum trim, with Harmon Kardon sound optional.

Front seats are firm but adequately comfortable, there’s a good amount of room for rear seat passengers, and a great 16.9 cubic-ft. of trunk space.

Pricing starts at $45,495 for the 330i, 2-grand more for all-wheel drive; the 330e plug-in is just above that at $46,595, with the top 340i coming in at $58,595.

BMW essentially created the sport sedan as we know it back in the 1960s. And while you don’t have to spend this kind of money to get a great driving experience these days, the 2023 BMW 3 Series still delivers perhaps the best mix of performance, luxury, tech, and even comfort, in a 4-door sedan package that an awful lot of people, including us, still adore.

Specifications

  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbo-4
  • Horsepower: 255
  • 0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 103 feet (avg)
  • Transmission: 8-speed auto
  • Torque: 295 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.7-seconds at 102 mph
  • EPA: 24 City / 33 Highway / 27 Combined