Used Car Showdown: Lexus RC-F VS Toyota Supra
Updated: Feb 20, 2021
Two of the most polarizing Toyota products sold today are also sports cars, one is wrapped in luxury and features a big old-school V8, the other is a blend of BMW parts sharing branded with a legendary name. Both the Lexus RC-F and the new Toyota Supra can now be purchased used, while both plan on being everything an enthusiast wants in a 2-door, the truth is that only one of these cars gives you the most bang for your buck in performance, styling, value, and reliability...as a used car. For less than $50,000 in the United States, you can have your pick of lightly used Lexus RC-F's from 2015 and newer, while last year's all new Toyota Supra is a not so common sight on the used market during the COVID19 pandemic. However, before we go deeper into the comparison and stories of both cars let me just put out a few disclaimers on this showdown between these two bargain sports cars. Firstly, TeqDigest is in no way affiliated with Car Gurus or Car And Driver, both websites were used to allocate resources including actual car listings from dealers, pricing, and testing statistics; we have not received any compensation from either party but they are both two very good tools when shopping for cars both new and used. Secondly, those who are shopping for a new sports car from any make, should really buy those kinds of cars brand new when possible; as enthusiasts we all have the responsibility to voice our opinions through our purchasing power as sports cars, fast sedans, and manual transmissions continue to lose the battle to SUVs of all sizes. Finally, if you like comparisons like these and want to see more please reach out ot us on Instagram, Facebook or through email at: TeqDigest@gmail.com, all of your feedback is greatly appreciated.
So first up, let's talk about the Lexus RC-F, the recipe is simple, leather, luxury, two doors, and a naturally aspirated V8 on the verge of extinction in the car market today. What makes this car special is that it is the first two door from the Toyota luxury brand since the SC430 from the early 2000's if you don't include the short-lived IS-C convertible, what makes the RC-F special is a slew of parts that add sporting pretensions with added power. The chassis is where we should start off, the front end is from the Lexus GS, the mid-section is from the aforementioned IS-C, and the rear is from the IS sedan, all of which were either new or just a few years old when sales started in late 2014. Naturally aspirated V8s are becoming rare outside of American Muscle cars and the 2UR-GSE that was lifted and upgraded from the previous generation Lexus IS-F makes for one of the best engine soundtracks as it pushes out 467 horsepower at 7100 rpm with 389 lb-ft of torque to get it off the line. Power is sent to the rear wheels by Toyota AA80E 8 speed transmission built by Aisin, while rear a Torsen or Torque Vectoring Differential with three operating modes, Standard, Slalom, or Track, handles the RC-F's turning capabilities.At each corner are a set of F-series specific forged 19 inch aluminum BBS wheels that cover Brembo brakes, also at each corner are monotube gas-filled shock absorbers and ball-jointed stabilizer bars, different than what comes standard on other RCs as it all lends to the look and status of the F. Outside the RC-F has a wide-body look with bulging fenders front and rear, optional active aero options, ground effects front and rear, vertical stacked exhaust tips integrated in to the bumper, and depending on the year a slew of exclusive colorways. Inside is the standard Lexus fare, a quiet interior with leather seats, options for alcantara, F-badging, a mix of touch pad and knobs for audio and HVAC controls, as well as upgrades in technology over the production life thus far. The ultimate road-going version of the RC-F is of course the very controversial, very expensive, and very rare track edition, featuring a 180 lb weight loss, carbon bits throughout, a slight power increase, and some awesome aero with a satin paint option all for the brand new price of about $97,675.
The Toyota Supra or GR Supra as it is known in it's latest appearance on the sports car scene has finally made a return after two decades. Highly anticipated, the Supra has also been highly controversial as it shares much of its DNA with BMW's new Z4 and is manufactured in Austria by Magna Steyr, creating a rift in the car community who either feel grateful to be behind the wheel of a new Supra or feel that it is as much of a Toyota as the U.S. Yaris (Mazda2 elsewhere). Being a BMW essentially isn't too bad of thing now is it? The Supra is a two seater that comes fully furnished in leather, has a straight six producing 335hp at 6500 rpm and 365 lb-ft of torque (lower than the 2021 edition and dyno numbers), and handles better than any Supra previously produced as well as being more fun to drive at the limit than some of the BMWs it shares components with. The B58 powered 2-door has no back seats and no manual transmission option, instead an 8 speed ZF automatic with a manual shifting mode sends power to the rear wheels for your smoky burnouts, to stop the vehicle are beefy Brembo brakes that make it a track day hero for many. Inside the cockpit are enough standard features and options to make this Supra a true daily driver, 14-way adjustable heated seats, 12 speaker JBL sound system, heads up display, an 8.8 inch multimedia screen with Apple Carplay, radar cruise control, and safety features that require a full chart to list. Toyota has done a great job with stirring up the emotions of its fans on the A90 Supra, colorways range from classic red, white, and black, to an attention grabbing yellow along with special edition colorways like a matte grey and an electric blue for the latest A91 edition. Special editions all carry distinct features over the now expanded for 2021 Supra lineup that add on to the 3.0 Premium while the 2.0 Supra offers a more stripped down version of the sports car experience. All of the hooning ability of Toyota's latest sports car can be had from $42,990 up to $55,990, not bad for a dedicated sports car in this modern era; however noise behind the scenes have let rumors grow of future models with more power, a manual transmission option, and other exclusive goodies that should make for a fun ride over the next 5 or so years.
Let's start off with a bang, a crackle, a pop, or a roar depending on which of these vehicles suits your taste. The choice between a naturally aspirated V8 and a turbocharged inline-six should be a no-brainer, there's no replacement for the Lexus RC-F's 5.0 liter displacement unless you're in the market for a Supra that puts down close to 400 wheel horsepower from it's 3.0 liter powerplant. There's quite a few aspects to both the 2UR and B58 that have created diehard fans of both so far as well as drawbacks for both, first it's the sounds each generate in stock form. The 2UR has a ferocious V8 rumble that has seemingly been fine tuned since its inception in the IS-F, the exhaust note is deep and sophisticated all the way through the rev range while the B58 on the Supra is tied in with an active exhaust and also sounds phenomenal with an aggressive note usually followed by cracks and burbles during hard shifts. Power delivery matches the exhaust notes however, on one end you have a growing power band in the Lexus, while the Toyota has boosted off the line delivery for instant satisfaction. Transmission-wise you'll find more performance out of the ZF unit in the Supra, faster, more aggressive shifts with the right ratios to match plenty of tracks and back roads; the RC-F has a fine unit but does not inspire as much confidence in selecting the right gear fast enough. Track, autocross, and curvy road handling separate these two coupes when it comes to having fun, the Lexus RC-F needs plenty of help to combine road feel and nimbleness while moving the 4048 lb chassis through the twisties, it's penchant for diving through corners makes the RC-F a handful when driving aggressively, think of it as a 7/10ths car but not one to go all out. The RC-F's hefty weight dismisses it from the sports car selection process if the Supra is involved with the aforementioned power pushing only 3,372 lbs, this combined with Toyota's fine tuning of the suspension make this a car that can make you look like the drift king when you kick out the rear. In a straight line the newer, lighter Supra edges out the RC-F in pretty much all of the acceleration and speed figures you can think of except for top speed which is held back by a governor. The RC-F's performance stats are still impressive however,12.8 second standing quarter mile with a 4.3 second 0-60 and a top speed of 171 mph, while the Supra gets down the 1320 in 12.3 seconds with a 3.8 0-60 and 160 mph top speed. Braking performance also favors the lighter Supra, beating the Lexus to a complete stop from 70 by 6 feet at 148 feet. While it seems like the RC-F offers little value to the performance car shopper, it would be wrong to think that it is incapable of generating smiles, smoke, and sportiness; it is a muscle car in a suit that delivers Lexus refinement with plenty of soul. The Supra of course is born and bread as a sports car above anything else which is why it shines so brightly, while the A80 was a GT car, the A90 is a sports car that BMW enthusiasts wish the company offered in their showrooms.
Looks are subjective, some people like to blend in while driving and others intend to stand out, both the RC-F and Supra do both. Lexus has for years placed the "predator maw" on the front end of every product they sell with mixed results but the RC lineup blends this look well. The RC-F is a gentleman bruiser, wide fender arches, rear haunches, with smoothed out lines while the Supra has those boy racer looks, modern cuts and grooves on a battle ready shape, it yells "Look at me!" If you want to blend in regular traffic while also feeling confident when rolling up to a valet, the V8 RC should be your choice; it's understated while classic with a long hood and short rear deck, the rounded lines help it to blend in with the rest of the Lexus lineup with little controversy. One of the better views on the RC-F however also points out one thing every current and future owner should address...the fake vertical exhaust tips on the bumper that signal to other drivers that you're not in a normal Lexus. The Supra isn't innocent of this use of fake and nonfunctional parts as many of the vents placed throughout the metalwork do little but offer a route if you plan on cutting in to your car to add your own cooling upgrades. Yet the Supra is still a looker, it's low, very low, more so than the RC-F and when on the road it's going to grab someone's attention. If you liked the looks of the old Supra then you can probably appreciate either car as they almost look related to their grandfather, the 2020 Supra just evolves the look with plenty of DNA from the 2014 FT-1 concept with a more realistic front end that still has a shark nose and predator eyes, the sides have a great curve that brings the rear arch in from the bottom of the skirt, and the rear end has a duckbill trunk lid with some of the best looking tail lights found today at any price point. The two Toyota products do well in the looks department on the outside but what can be said for their respective interiors? Well the RC-F definitely has the upperhand in this category due to the driver and passenger seats that exceed the look of it's $64,750 as new price, they are functional in holding you tight through turns and feature some very cool patterns stitched into the leather that comes in a variety of colors. The dashboard, steering wheel, and center console on the Lexus is approachable, it doesn't angle itself to the driver but offers a mix of buttons, knobs, a touchpad, and display screen to bring all of the adjustable bits closer to you in typical luxury car fashion. While the Lexus looks upscale in and out, the Supra unfortunately suffers from the carryover BMW interior you normally see in their other products. Inside the Supra are two comfortable, good but not great looking seats in comparison to the more expensive RC-F but without a color option on some leather bits you're left with a sea of black dashboard parts that lack a sense of occasion. If you like the functional German styling of other BMW vehicles then you'll feel at home, the screen is bright and gives you everything you need but with such an inspired exterior it is a shame that Toyota wasn't able to do more with this carryover cockpit. We all park our car at some point, we walk away from it and should want to look back, for the next drive we should be excited to see it and when opening the door anticipate plopping ourselves down in the driver seat to begin our next journey but only one of these fine vehicles will do that for you. Taste is what it is, everyone has a different gauge of it and some people feel that the look of a vehicle is relative to age or status, but it's simple regardless of who you are, when buying a coupe do you want to blend in like the Lexus or stand out like the Toyota?
I must admit, I'm kind of partial to the Lexus RC-F, I love the V8, I mentioned it a bunch of times but I also like the styling inside and out along with the aftermarket upgrades I haven't made mention of, but it's not enough to be a better sports car than the Supra. While the legendary MK4 Supra was a fast straight line car, the new Supra is that and a whole lot more, it is a polarizing example of what needs to be done sometimes in order to produce a car that engages your senses. The Supra has plenty about it to love or hate, maybe both, of course we keep saying that it is fun, fast, handles well, plus looks awesome! Most also can point at the demerits of the Supra, the interior is fine but not special, it's standard BMW fare with little Toyota influence, it also gets overshadowed by other sports cars from different brands that cost less or just a bit more, and reliability as well as cost of ownership is a big unknown currently. Lexus has been known for reliability, cost of ownership is of course elevated from a Toyota but still parts are available for much less than the Supra's BMW parts, maybe that doesn't matter now but it's good to know. The RC-F is everything Lexus does right mashed together, with a increasingly rare drivetrain plunked down the middle of it, it's comfortable, heavy, and unfortunately plays a pretend sports through the corners but as a complete package you're getting a truly special car that will be missed a decade from now as forced induction coupled with electrification takes over the automotive world. If you have to buy one of these cars today, choose the Lexus RC-F, it is more car for the price than the Supra, while you lose out on some of the performance numbers on paper you gain a daily use vehicle that can be fun at times yet serious enough to take on a date, business meeting, or somewhere that you want to make a statement on your taste. The Supra ultimately is the car you plan for today but buy tomorrow, actually in a couple of years, the main sticking point for me and maybe other hesitant buyers is that better models are on the horizon with a 6-speed manual rumored to show up at some point. Buy the Supra at one of two points, as a brand new car with the best features Toyota has to offer down the line, or wait until prices bottom out and you buy a lightly used Supra that you either get in and drive or modify to make it your own. The Winner here is the RC-F, it's classic and classy, it has enough power for most (yes...we know, every car has 500 horsepower but not yours), it comes in a variety of options and you honestly cannot beat Lexus fit and finish. Get an RC-F, change the exhaust so you can hear that engine roar just a bit louder, upgrade some suspension bits so you can handle turns better and enjoy it, then when you're done bring everything back to stock and trade it in for a Supra when it offers everything you've ever wanted.