Heads were scratched and eyebrows furrowed when the 2015 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT rolled up to our office. Outwardly, it appeared to be the RC F model, and in fact, the two are almost indistinguishable. Not that we’re complaining; we haven’t attracted so many envious stares and jealous sneers since testing the Scat Pack in January. Superficiality aside, there’s some impressive advancements and features that make the 350 RC F SPORT worthy of praise.
For those who are unaware, the illustrious RC is the coupe version of Lexus’s IS. First introduced in 2014, it adapts the styling of the LF-LC, taking bits and pieces from the L10 series GS and XE20 series IS convertible. The line offers a sporty drive and aggressive looks for less coin than a full-blown F car.
Join us, as we pick apart the latest RC offering from Lexus.
From the outside, our Molten Pearl F SPORT was beautiful. Don’t be fooled by the name, Molten Pearl is an eye-popping orange! Alternate color choices include Nebula Gray Pearl, Ultra White and Silver Lining Metallic, but the Molten Pearl is certainly my top pick.
By now, everyone is likely tired of hearing me go on and on about the amazing Lexus spindle grille, which has received a few tweaks on the F SPORT model. Now lower and wider than ever before, the grille features a mesh pattern that resembles a spider web and catches the gaze of onlookers wherever it goes.
Sculpted like a model, the Lexus RC 350 F SPORT is so hot right now. With lines for days, a super-cool low stance and superior 19-inch F SPORT mesh alloy wheels, it doesn’t balk at tricky twists and turns thanks to LED headlamps and taillamps that contrast aggressively against the front fascia and heady fender flares. Another pleasing contrast becomes obvious when examining the short wheelbase with large diameter wheels.
Following the big booty trend (thank you Kim Kardashian), the RCs rear end is plump with multiple LED lamps and innovative lens technology. The multi-layered lens design gives the impression of glimmering precious stones or hordes of high-intensity fireflies. The Lexus L-shaped motif has been given a facelift – a graphic element now resides inside the lamp unit to produce a raised, 3D-like surface. A dual-chrome exhaust is the icing on the beef-cake.
Interestingly, after posting images of the rear on Instagram, many followers complained of its cheap-looking plastic fender vents. Personally, I loved them, despite their lack of functionality.
A Black NuLuxe and Silver Performance Trim interior matches the masculine exterior design, stamped with the Lexus seal of luxury in ever corner.
Driver Specs: Drivers are treated to a perforated leather steering wheel and shift knob, black headliner, aluminum pedals, power steering column and stylish track-inspired TFT instrument cluster. Burrowed within the TFT cluster is a full-color LCD multi-function display accessed via a brawny digital tachometer with metallic-trimmed bezel that slides open.
Seating: Foam-injected, low riding F SPORT front seats provide intense bolstered comfort and hold. They come with all the perks: perforated; leather-trimmed; heated and ventilated. Out back, two people can travel somewhat comfortably, and store their belongings in a shallow bin between the seats.
Lighting: Up-lit lighting creates an ambient cabin that automatically brightens or dims to suit your driving conditions.
Here’s what the EPA have to say: the RC 350 F SPORT records 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. That’s a combined average of 22 mpg, and we came close to this, observing 23 mpg. The extra mile can be attributed to the fact we were driving in Sport mode.
And now for the fun stuff! Admittedly, the F SPORT looks faster than it is. But for a luxury coupe, most will find the drive dynamics satisfactory at the very least. The 3.5-liter V-6 engine combines with the Lexus D-4S fuel delivery system (for either port- or direct-injection) and is good for 306 hp and 277 lb.-ft. of torque. Our test model was a rear-wheel drive version and as such it used an 8-speed automatic transmission as opposed to the AWDs 6-speed automatic transmission.
Steering is responsive, assisted by a precisely tuned chassis that adds a note of athleticism to the drive experience. The athlete in question may only be taking a leisurely training jog, but the sportiness is there. Perhaps more appropriate for a relaxed meander rather than a racetrack meet, the cabin remains tranquil, silent and unperturbed even during high-G manoeuvring.
Other pluses? Acceleration is energetic and gear changes are seamless.
If you’ve read any of our recent reviews, you’ll know that Lexus don’t skimp on tech components. Our tester was bestowed with a huge Navigation System package ($1530) that comes with backup camera and remote touchpad controller. After driving five Lexus vehicles this year I’ve become accustomed to the touchpad system, but first-timers need to persevere. The Nav and Infotainment systems’ main components are Lexus Enform Destinations, App Suite, voice command and Lexus Insider. More than your average multimedia and climate control, this system is interactive and provides pulsation feedback and intelligent intuitive operation via pinch, swipe and flick movements.
The previously mentioned TFT cluster was designed to resemble the LFA supercar, and I certainly had flashes of Daniel Ricciardo-esque brilliance when glancing at the reconfigurable marvel.
Lexus Enform is a complete interface that can be broken down into four categories:
- Enform Safety Connect alerts drivers to remote collisions, theft and emergency assistance.
- Enform Remote mobile app eliminates the hassle of actually being in your car to start the ignition. More practical attributes are not limited to fuel monitoring and remote un/locking, but assists in the event of a forgotten car spot and checks the door and window status of the vehicle.
- Enform Destinations enables you to utilize 24-hour, en-route navigation assistance from your very own live response agent, sitting in an office somewhere waiting for you to turn left instead of right so s/he can let their skills shine.
- Digital device addicts can stay in touch through the use of Enform App Suite. Stream music, conduct searches, make reservations or carry on a conversation with everybody’s favourite virtual friend, Siri.
- Outstanding interior comfort and craftsmanship. The LFA-inspired components were particularly enjoyable
- Masculine, sleek exterior that resembles a fantasy video-game vehicle (WARNING: do not let the illusion go to your head and attempt to evade the police or treat workers-of-the-night improperly).
- Sporty driving dynamics
- Quiet cabin at low or high speeds
- Peppy acceleration and nimble handling
- Limited rear seating
- Unfortunately, it looks faster than it performs. Speed enthusiasts are advised to test the Lexus RC F, which is fitted with a 5.0-liter V-8 engine that outputs an insane 467 hp and goes from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, compared to RC 350 F SPORT at 5.7 seconds.
The RC 350 F Sport starts at $42,790, but with the addition of variable gear ratio steering ($1,900), moonroof ($1,100), intuitive parking assist ($500), navigation system ($1,530), and the F SPORT Package ($3,985), our RC came to grand total of $53,140.
How does this compare to other sporty coupes? The BMW 435i is some 273 pounds lighter than the Lexus, making the former a more desirable choice when considering speed. Likewise, the suave Cadillac ATS 3.6 coupe weighs 329 pounds less and races from 0-60 almost half a second faster than the 350, as does the 435i. But what’s half a second when you can recline in uncompromising luxury and catch the eye of curious pedestrians and fellow drivers? For this reason, the Lexus RC 350 F SPORT is our top choice in the competitive luxury coupe market.
Photo Credit: Copyright 2015 Angel Mosqueda / Car Fanatics Blog