Review: 2015 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT
There is understandably a great deal of hullabaloo over the coming Lexus LC 500 luxury sports coupe. From everything we have seen, it is shaping up to be a thrilling automobile, a must drive. Perhaps overshadowed in that fanfare is the fantastic RC sports coupe Lexus has been making for the past couple of years. We recently had the opportunity to spend a week with the RC 350 F SPORT to learn if it really “injects emotional appeal into the Lexus DNA” as promised.
While the RC’s range of available engines does not include the beefy V8 the LC promises, it is no less respectable. Our top of the range tester featured a 3.5-liter 6-cylinder which sends a healthy 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. The power was sent via an 8-speed automatic transmission with wheel mounted paddle shifters for those who want to play F1 and do the work themselves.
The RC 350’s exterior design combines the sportiness of the IS, the sophistication of the LS, and sprinkles in a dash or two of LFA. Those elements combine to create a real head turner, especially with the F SPORT bumper and grille. The F SPORT packaging maintains the uniquely Lexus hourglass grille, but replaces the standard spindles with an organic looking plastic mesh. The rest of the car is a collection of creases and vents molded into a fastback coupe likely to catch the eye of the local constabulary even standing still.
The RC is every bit the luxury coupe inside as it is outside. Lexus refinement is evident in soft touch materials that look and feel high end. Fit and finish are the usual Lexus standard with no gaps between parts, and flawless stitching.
The front seats are road trip comfortable with just enough support to still feel soft keep you planted while exploring curves. An element in keeping you planted is the inclusion of the oft overlooked dead pedal which on the F SPORT package is (along with the other two pedals) a racy aluminum. Other bits of aluminum trim and plastic that looks like aluminum dot the interior mirroring the sporty theme of the exterior.
On the subject of seating, there are what appear to be two rear seats. While they look like seats, there are few humans capable of using them as such. With no real legroom to go with them, it’s best to accept they are premium shelves for shopping and small luggage.
The instrument cluster is unique to the F SPORT package with one circle in the middle flanked by digital driver info modules. The center circle is a tachometer with a digital speedometer mounted inside of it. The tachometer changes based on the selected driving model, for example the redline moves and becomes more evident in SPORT and SPORT S+ modes. The entire cluster is customizable using steering wheel mounted controls that are reasonably intuitive to use.
The center stack and console are one of the reasons we are Lexus fans. Everything is easy to see, easy to use, and easy to reach. Analog audio and HVAC controls are where you expect them to be and require little to no thought when making changes or choosing settings. This means less time searching for them and more time focused on driving.
The RC 350 is, like pretty much every other Lexus we have tested, a treat to drive. It is a refined sports car. The sports element shows in the looks as well as the responsive acceleration, braking, and steering. Refinement tempers the sportiness with a ride that is not too harsh. While this sounds like brief, generic praise, that’s just how right Lexus got the RC coupe.
The Bottom Line
Too often a car with sports in its description just doesn’t feel right if you aren’t thrashing it around corners and jumping off the line at every opportunity. Just as often, cars that look sporty leave an enthusiast wanting with a lack of power and/or handling. The luxury sports coupe that is the RC 350 is with you every step of the way no matter how fast or stop-and-go your commute. And it’s about half of that LC 500 we’re all waiting for.