2014 Lexus IS F 2015 Lexus RC F

2015 Lexus RC F destroys the 2014 IS F on track

We had the chance to lay down dozens of fast laps in the 2014 Lexus IS F sedan and 2015 Lexus RC F coupe. What is clear is that Lexus built upon the IS F, and that the RC F is now miles ahead.

My apologies for the dramatic headline, but it is not untrue. Torque News recently had two opportunities to track the fastest of Lexus’ production cars, the 2014 IS F and the 2015 RC F. Both were run at the Monticello Motor Club, arguably the best racetrack in the Northeast. I’m a fan of the Lexus line, and owner of an IS 350C and prior owner of a Supra. What I learned over about 32 total laps in these two amazing cars is that the IS F will always be a legend, and that the RC F improves upon the IS F in almost every objective and subjective way.

Read More: Comparing the 2015 Lexus RC F, RC 350, and IS 350 on-track

IS F is a Balanced Car
Let’s start at the end. The IS F’s best feature in my opinion is its balance. It is a car with enough engine, enough brakes, and amazing handling on a road course. A semi-skilled driver, like myself, can enjoy the IS F on track for hours. With each lap, the driver can learn more and push the car just a little farther.

RC F Has More and Better Drive Modes
By comparison to the RCF the IS F has only one track setting, called “Sport.” The RC F has Sport, Sport Plus, and a setting called “Expert” that is not shown on the options in the car, but can be accessed by owners and Lexus pro drivers. These settings are what really set the RC F apart from the IS F.

In Sport Plus, the RC F’s AI (artificial Intelligence) transmission is amazing. I wrote a whole story on just this part of the car. In brief, the AI sport direct shift 8-speed in the RC F has the car in the power band all the time on track. The IS F by contrast, does not. When exiting corners the IS F can be often caught in a dead spot at the bottom of the rev band and requires a shift or two that the RC F does not. Yes, you can paddle shift both cars, but for me the RC F in Sport Plus and in the “Drive” setting was much more satisfying. It makes you much faster.

Learn More: 2015 Lexus RC F’s most amazing feature is the transmission

No, the IS F Does Not Have the Same Engine As RC F
With regard to engines, both share a block and not much else. However they both behave the same way. At low RPMs they have one sound, then as the revs climb and the cars “come on cam” and switch their variable valve timing to the aggressive settings, they bellow, and the thrust comes on strong. The feeling is almost like a forced induction car (supercharged or turbocharged), but more gradual and later in the rev band. The RC F is also just more powerful. Its 467 hp provide noticeably more thrust than the 416 hp the IS F has.


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Thank's for the review.
Any lap times from yourself or, better yet, from a really competent driver (no offense intended :-)?
No offense taken. This is a point that I thought of too. Not only are my skills not up to that kind of a test, the track was not configured identically during my two track days. The straights are slowed by chicanes to save the lives of the journalists - seriously - There have been crashes. Maybe my feelings of being faster in the RC F are wrong. Could be. In 1 year we will know. Car and Driver will most likely turn the "Lightning Lap" in an RC F next year. The IS F is on record doing that standard lap at 3:05:4. Which by the way was exactly the same time the prior Generation BMW M3 turned that same lap. Page 59 of this month's CD if interested.
Thanks for the reply. I understand they recently repaved VIR, so direct comparison with prior years' times will be moot. Glad you enjoyed your time with the RC!
I have a question to you John Goreham, I really like your reviews, you know nowadays the most common question is, which one is faster the RC-F or the M4, even though I am not looking for which one is faster, for me which one is BETTER or which one is more fun to drive ? can you give us a clear answer ? because I believe in your words I want to know the truth :)
Having had some exposure to the BMW and Lexus ownership experience - which goes just beyond the cars themselves, I lean towards Lexus. These two cars are both excellent (three cars really, M4, M3 and RC F). In my opinion, if one is planning to drive 99% on-road I would pick the Lexus. However, the M cars are perhaps better for those who are going to track the cars semi-regularly and definitely the choice for those that will actually race.. I'm sorry there is no right and wrong answer :)
Rami, thank you for the kind words.
Hi John, 1st time poster. First of all, great write up. I saw a vid where there is supposed to be a secret mode for the RCF? Not the 'expert" setting, its something else. Are you privy to this at all?
Chimba, welcome and thanks! I heard from a knowledgeable source that there is a setting beyond Expert. However, I was only told it was basically "all-off" for traction and stability control. My understanding is that it is for Lexus testing and for possible race applications. I was not told how to access it.
Hello John. Whilst I get where you are coming from, it does beg the question why compare the IS-F and RC-F in the first place? They are very different cars that do different things. As a proud owner of an older 2008 IS-F, I really enjoy the Q car styling, 5 door practicality (like most people I have children to think about) and fast road pace of my car. The RC-F is something very different. My biggest criticism so far has to be the excess weight it carries. Whilst all the latest tech helps to overcome this in many respects, it does eat into any extra HP the engine provides, and puts the 0-60mph, and quarter-mile times in the same ball park as the IS-F (some figures show the times are identical in fact). Both are great cars, but I personally won't be rushing out to buy an RC-F any time soon.
Well said. I love both. I own an IS 350C, so I have an IS that is also a coupe. Having the rare chance to track both cars for a good part of a day I thought he comparison was worth putting out there. The IS F is discontinued and at the time of the article the RC F was Lexus fastest production car, replacing the IS F. We all hope it comes back on the new platform. The IS F is a joy on the track, but the RC F is at a new level. As to the weight, I understand that most of the reviewers talk a lot about that, but the difference in weight between the IS F and the RC F is about 119 pounds. It is the same weight as the other V8 cars like the Audi RS 5 that it competes with. The RC F weighs less than Camaro ZL 1. It weights about 100 pounds more than a Mustang GT.
Thanks John. I still think the excess weight is a concern though. The RS5 is AWD, and therefore carries the Quattro system which weight a lot! Acceptable for such a capable system, but the RC-F doesn't have AWD? The M3 is a closer comparison to the RC-F in terms of layout, but that weighs 400 pounds less! Depending on what numbers you choose to believe, the RC-F weighs in at 4,048 pounds. That's over 200 pounds more that the IS-F. All my figures are from Car and Driver (December 2014 issue). I think the point is with a few modifications installed, the IS-F would have a very strong chance of beating the RC-F around most tracks. Whilst it's not strictly fare to compare a stock and a modified car, an older IS-F with proper coilovers, mechanical LSD, uprated 2-piece rotors, PPE headers and a proper exhaust will still cost well under the price of a base model RC-F. I think the general consensus for a lot of IS-F owners is the RC-F is a nice looking car, has much nicer trim and seats, but isn't enough of a leap from the IS-F in terms of outright pace. Especially when it's less practical and weighs more. If I was in the market for a 2-door track orientated car, the GTR would be my choice every day of the week.
Correction, the RCF is not 4048lbs. That's the weight equipped with the performance package. The ISF is 3780 lbs vs RCF 3958 lbs. That's a 178 lbs difference, not over 200. To trade an ISF for a much sexier looking/more high tech/better interior/more rigid/more powerful car, to me is no brainer. Unless, you just want to race your car and dont care about the above, or your ISF is a recent buy, you should keep your ISF