It’s a long time coming, but I promised a number of members that I would summarise life after Lexus.
I don’t pretend to be a capable driver, a track god or even someone of any real automotive knowledge. There are plenty on here that put me to shame! I have however owned an IS-F, RC-F and now a C63. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in GS-Fs. I’ve also had time in both versions of the LC-500. Mercedes wise, I’ve driven a fair few miles in a C63s, an AMG GT and a current E63s. So, I think I’m in a good place to render an honest comparison between Lexus and Mercedes. What follows is my experience as a Lexus / AMG owner. Just one person’s view - just my view.
IS-F – wonderfully stealthy
I loved my IS-F. My heart still skips a beat whenever I see one on the road. Maybe this happens because they are so rare or just because I will always feel an attachment to the Lexus brand. The engineering, the build quality and the customer service are all qualities that impress and leave a lasting mark.
Of course, you know there’s a BUT coming. The BUT came in the form of the anonymity of the IS-F. The very thing that appeals to so many – the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Call me vain, call me a show off, but I started to get a little annoyed at the lack of recognition the IS-F got in the real world. Only dedicated petrol heads knew what it was, and I got a little tired of having conversations such as “Yes, I have a Lexus IS-F. It’s the equivalent to a BMW M3, Mercedes C63.”. I wanted the car to be recognised for just how good it was. An even bigger problem was the temptation to show M3 and C63 drivers just how good my IS-F was. Obviously I resisted….
The seed was sewn, and my head was turned by an RC-F.
IS-F to RC-F
I found my RC-F on Autotrader. A 15 plate Carbon edition in white. The day of trade in, the IS-F performed beautifully – flawlessly, and it really was hard handing over the keys. I felt like I was betraying a friend, but it had to be done.
I always find the process of purchasing a new car stressful - the paperwork, the money exchange and that nagging thought in the back of the head “Have I done the right thing?”. One the part-x was done, I headed South from Stoke, down the busy M6. I had a headache, the sun was very bright and I had no sunglasses. Not a great start.
That nagging thought in the back of my head was really evident. My first couple of hours in the RC-F weren’t great. I started thinking that I’d spent £40k on a car that was arguably no better than the IS-F. More striking, definitely, but still arguably no better.
I’d stopped at the services (somewhere on the M6) in the hope I could buy some sunglasses. On my return to the car park, a guy (who turned out to be a Boxster owner) was walking around the RC-F. He was very complimentary about the car. This attention was to be repeated over and over in the 10,000 miles of RC-F ownership. People stop, stare, photograph, video and adore the look of the car.
By the time I got off the motorway and on to some fast A and B roads, I started to bond with the RC-F. Over the next year, my RC-F proved to be utterly reliable and adequately fast!
Goodbye to the Lexus F fold
Two things annoyed me about the RC-F (and IS-F)
1. The RC-F’s sheer confidence. I found that to get enjoyment out of the car, I had to wring its neck. If you’ve driven the Mountain Road on the IOM, you’ll know it’s derestricted. To enjoy it and any other road in the RC-F, I found I really had to obtain speeds that were way too high.
2. Noise. The intake noise inside the cabin sounded amazing. Outside it sounded pretty good on the boil. However, when pottering around, things were a little sterile. The exhaust note was disappointing. A QS exhaust helped, but that came with downsides.
So, those were my two reasons for leaving the F fold.
The next car would have to entertain at lower speeds and make a great noise.
The options – the M3, but they sound ******* (and fake). Alfa thing – reliability. F-Type – I’m too tall. LC-500, has all the issues that the RC-F does. That left me with the C63, and I ended up buying a C63 Coupe.
Day one with the C63
Don’t listen to what people tell you about Mercedes reliability and build quality. Do what I did – just go buy one and experience it in the flesh. Mine got me home from the dealer only to be recovered straight back there. What a nightmare – but I did get several weeks in an E63s loaner. A quick note to all F drivers – no matter what car you have, don’t battle it out with an E63s – they are in a different league – biblical performance!
My C63 got returned to me after a couple of weeks but immediately some trim fell off it. This time I got a £125,000 AMG GT loaner. Another rapid car – not as fast as the E63s, but still in a different league to F cars.
C63 v RC-F
There’s no winner. It’s a personal preference, but I’ll list the pros – cons
Lexus wins on
1. Build quality – HANDS down – different league
2. Reliability….. .most of the time. My IS-F did need a new steering rack - £5k)
3. Warranty – cheap and usually comprehensive
4. Induction noise. Epic. The C63 engine itself (minus exhaust) is quite boring.
6. Handling – always predictable. I’d still be more confident in an RC-F (especially in the wet).
Haven driven TVD and Flintstone LSD versions, I wouldn’t bother with the TVD (contrary to many previous debates). Personally, I found the TVD a little counter intuitive at the limit.
7. Standard kit (at least in Carbon edition). Things like radar cruise as standard
8. Nobody will nick a Lexus
C63 wins on
1. Overall looks. Yes, the RC-F is eye catching and from the rear 3/4 a real stunner. But I just find the nose on the RC-F (and IS-F) awkward in profile. The C63 has less awkward angles. Incidentally the GS-F has the best F nose.
2. Noise. AMG have performed miracles with the exhaust system. It’s an epic, guttural noise. The popping and banging is also awesome. What’s more – if you don’t like it, turn it off. I've yet to encounter the perfect aftermarket F exhaust.
3. Fun at low speed. You don’t have to go fast to have fun. This is partly down to the epic sound track and…….
4. Torque. With 8 gears, the F cars can often leave you in no man’s land. In the AMG you have this stuff called torque – low down the rev range.
5. Recognition. People know what AMGs are and even if they don’t they appreciate the noise
6. Road placement. The 63 'feels' more compact than the RC-F. The RC-F has that big swooping bonnet. On the road, the RC-F actually feels bigger than its sister the GS-F!
Do I miss the RC-F
No. Will I ever own a Lexus again….. I hope so. The AMG’s current garage buddy is a Lexus GS-F. I walk past it every day. I still admire everything about it. Lexus F cars – I’ll always have a soft spot for them.
Thanks for reading.