We get to grips with the new Lexus RC 350 F-Sport - the sportiest model in the brand's current arsenal. It is also very pretty, but is that beauty more than skin deep?
- Meaty 3.5-litre V6
- One model in the range for now
- Comprehensive specification level
There's just one model in the RC range for now and Lexus South Africa has said that the V8-powered RC F will not be coming due to an astronomical price tag. That's a pity, but the F-Sport bodykit-adorned RC 350 already looks quite special, even in the distorting metallic black of our test unit. While the rest of the competition have all gone the forced induction route, the Lexus RC 350 is powered by a refreshingly old-school, naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6. It's a proper engine this, and in the right modes, delivers a brutish soundtrack and endows the big coupe with brisk performance. On tap there's 233 kW and 378 Nm, enough to give the RC a 0-100kph time in the low 7s. It's hardly a fire breathing race car and it won't trouble the latest generation of boy racing hot hatchbacks, but there's something appealing about mashing your right foot into the accelerator pedal and hearing this Lexus roar.
Watch the Lexus RC 350 Acceleration
A video posted by Cars.co.za (@carssouthafrica) on Oct 13, 2015 at 1:34am PDT
Ride and Drive
Being a Lexus, you'd expect the ride quality to be very good and naturally it delivers despite sitting on 19-inch alloy wheels and our deteriorating road network. If long-distance highway driving is a big part of your life, then you'd be hard pressed to find a finer alternative. However this market demands some dynamic ability and this is where the Lexus is not as precise as some of its rivals. Throw some fast sweeps into the mix and the Lexus RC 350 responds in an adequate manner, but by no means is it the enthusiast's choice. It features Dynamic Rear Steering which supposedly aides turn in, but it'll take some fiddling with the Drive Select mode settings before you notice anything special as well as an aggressive driving style - not something we think Lexus owners are accustomed to! Switch to Sport+ and the digital rev counter switches from generic black to white. The throttle responsiveness is also increased. Approach the rev limit and it flashes red, much like the Lexus LFA supercar. Unlike its turbo'd rivals, power and shove only come in towards the higher revs, but once you're around the 4 000rpm mark, the engine is at full chant and delivers respectable oomph. The different settings also tweak the steering and suspension in a more aggressive or softer manner. The Achilles heel of this car is its weight. At 1700kg the Lexus RC 350 is a heavy fella.
Interior and Features
In true Lexus tradition the vehicle is extraordinarily well specced. As it stands, there are no optional extras and your R700 000 gets you an awful lot of gadgets and gizmos. There's a seven-inch touchscreen which controls the car's various on-board systems. The RC also comes with a tasty 10-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, satellite navigation, cruise control, LED headlights, adaptive suspension and an 8-speed automatic transmission. In terms of safety, you're not left wanting either as the Lexus RC 350 comes with eight airbags, lane departure warning, high beam assist as well as stability control. The cabin is a fine place to hang out and those leather seats with heating/cooling functionality are incredibly comfortable. What's particularly cool is the centrally mounted digital speedometer which can physically move from left to right on the instrument cluster.
Conclusion and Summary
It's not the fastest nor the cheapest luxury sports coupe on the market, but there's just something about the Lexus RC's styling, build quality and refinement that we love. Let's not forget the outstanding level of comfort features and technology that's fitted as standard. All testers agree that it's easily the best looking and one of the finest Lexus models to date. You won't be disappointed if you were to go down this route. For the first time it's possible to say you purchased a Lexus based on a decision made by your heart.
Price in South Africa
The Lexus RC 350 F Sport retails for R730 900 and that price includes the Standard Lexus Distance Plan of 4 years or 100 000 km with service intervals every 15 000km. There's also six years worth of cover provided against body panel perforation due to corrosion that is attributable to defects in material or workmanship.
Test Team Opinion "The Lexus RC looks incredibly fast. It gets plenty of attention when standing in a parking lot too. Instead of handling like the fighter jet it looks like, it's softer and more grown up. It's still quick, just rather aimed at the sunset cruiser rather than the hot lap enthusiast." Ashley Oldfield
"I was quite surprised by Lexus RC 350 - people often say Lexus cars don't have character, but I think this one does. It's striking to behold, has interesting tech inside and powertrain-wise is very refined, yet also gets a move on." Hannes Oosthuizen
We Like: Levels of comfort, refinement, build quality, rorty engine, full house specification, sleek looks
We don’t Like: Not as dynamic as hoped, quirky touchpad takes some getting used to
Also consider: BMW 435i coupe, Audi A5 3.0T coupe, forthcoming Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe Compare the Lexus RC to the BMW 435i and Audi A5 3.0T here.
Lexus RC 350 F-Sport Specifications