Two-door coupes make up an extremely niche segment of the South African market. They aren’t particularly practical as they only have two doors and generally lack rear leg room. They are however, meant to be exciting to look at and fun to drive - the kind of car with which to take the wife or girlfriend or whatever away for the weekend. If you don’t have any need for practicality, they also generally make good daily drivers. The Lexus RC 350 F-Sport aims to conquer all these objectives. We had a chance to drive it at the local launch in Franschhoek.
The RC rangeThose of you who have been eagerly anticipating the release of this car locally will be sad to hear that there will not be an RC F. The fire-breathing V8 has been shunned and we will only receive this one model – the RC 350 F-Sport. It is available in six colours, of which blue is the most striking. There are also two interior colours, one being a Dark Rose red.
Engine power?The RC 350 F-Sport is powered by the same 3.5-Litre V6 that does graft in the IS 350 and GS 350. Its natural aspiration can churn out a maximum of 233 kW and 378 Nm of torque. The engine is connected to an eight-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. It’s a surprisingly responsive gearbox, especially when driven in one of the sporty driving modes that can be selected. Downshifts are rattled off almost instantly and the upshifts feel near seamless.
The engine contributes much to the GT-cruiser image that Lexus hopes to pull off with the RC 350 F-Sport. The naturally aspirated V6 revs freely and accelerates smoothly all the whole way to the redline. The long gearing also makes it a smooth cruiser out on the open road. There’s a throaty sounding V6 that howls as you get higher into the rev range, aided by some clever enhancements under the bonnet that beef up the sound.
Is it well-specced?In typical Lexus fashion you only get a choice of one model and it’s kitted to the max with everything they have to offer. There’s navigation on board, as well as beautifully leather-wrapped seats, steering wheel and gear lever. The seats are also electrically adjustable. The infotainment system supports Bluetooth and USB inputs. You can’t fault the spec much, especially in the safety department where eight airbags are standard. In the active safety department there’s lane departure warning and high beam assist. Nothing ground-breaking at this price point, but excellent standard fare nevertheless.
Does it drive well?What feels like a massive steering wheel greets you as you prod the Start button. Initially the size is distracting but as you get on with the task of driving it starts feeling more natural. The RC 350 F-Sport cruises exceptionally well on open roads and freeways with a soothing manner. Overtaking is a bit more of an event with the naturally aspirated engine, as it has to kickdown a few more gears to up the pace. It adds to the enjoyment of the drive in this sort of car. The ride is comfortable and on a long journey or scenic drive you won’t have an issues with a choppy suspension. Over a mountain pass the RC 350 F-Sport can be adjusted into Sport or Sports S+ mode and the dynamics are enhanced to up the entertainment factor. The RC 350 F-Sport is an exciting drive on a good road and the steering feel and weighting are particularly good.
Competition and priceAs mentioned in the beginning, the two-door coupe segment is quite niche so Lexus isn’t expecting loads of sales. It sees competition from the likes of the BMW 4 Series, Merc C-Class Coupe and Audi A5. Some shoppers may also consider the likes of the Infiniti Q60 and Porsche Cayman. As for the price, a Lexus RC 350 F-sport will cost R730 000 all in and that seems competitive when comparing spec-for-spec with the competition.
For additional details, take a look at the Lexus RC 350 F-Sport - Specs and Pricing in South Africa!