Driven: 2016 Lexus RC350 F-Sport
Introduced as an addition to the 2015 Lexus model line, the RC-F coupe and its V8-powered performance brought some pizazz to the normally conservative brand.
It has since been joined by a pair of six-cylinder siblings, minus the ‘F’ designation.
The Lexus RC300 and RC350 both come with a 3.5-litre V6, six-speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel-drive. The 350 version reported on here has 52 more horsepower and an extra dollop of features and equipment.
The RC platform is a collection of components from three other Lexus cars. The front end comes from the GS sedan, the portion between the windshield and rear window comes from the IS convertible — with additional structural components for improved rigidity — and the rear comes from the IS sedan.
From the signature ‘spindle’ grill and flared fenders, to LED taillights and a pair of big tailpipes, the RC presents an aggressive, dare-I-say masculine appearance. The long hood/short deck, low profile and broad stance are characteristic of a traditional coupe. The test vehicle was cloaked in several layers of solar flare orange paint, helping it to stand out even further.
While carrying a quintet of seat belts, it is a two-plus-two vehicle and that second pair of passengers had better be small and agile and best they are not claustrophobic, as the rear side windows are fixed.
As a Lexus you expect – and get — exceptional levels of quality, finish and features. Standard equipment on the 350 includes: power windows, locks, seats and sunroof, heated mirrors, remote keyless entry, dual zone automatic climate control, auto-leveling LED headlights (low beam), heated tilt and telescope steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, voice-activated navigation system, backup camera, USB and AUX inputs, satellite radio, wireless connectivity and 19-in alloy wheels.
The safety bases are well-covered as well, with blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
The richly-appointed interior is well executed with excellent ergonomics. Both major and minor controls are easy to reach, decipher and operate — with one exception — the ‘remote touch interface’ that controls navigation and other functions displayed on a 17-cm full colour screen; meant to emulate the Apple swipe and pinch approach, it requires a deft touch as you navigate through menus for climate and audio control, pausing over a selection before pressing on the pad. Tough to use on less-than-smooth roads. Fortunately there are redundant buttons for some controls.
The terraced instrument panel includes a gorgeous TFT display but there is very little provision on the high and wide centre console for storing small items.
The front seats are superb with sufficient bolstering to keep you in position when exploring the limits of the suspension without being uncomfortable over long distances.
By sport coupe standards the trunk provides decent space.
On the road the first thing you notice is an almost total lack of wind or road noise. The engine provides more than ample oomph and, unless the right pedal remains depressed for more than a few seconds, it is a quiet companion.
Under sustained heavy throttle applications a synthetic sound is piped into the cockpit through a dedicated speaker.
Like so many vehicles these days, the driver can select from a variety of drive modes. In this case, they include sport, normal and eco. The latter dulls the response of the engine and transmission in search of maximum fuel efficiency. Sport tightens the steering and suspension and sharpens up the throttle and transmission actions. It reverts to normal every time you shut the car off — and will likely remain that way for 99 per cent of the time for 99.9 per cent of drivers.
The sophisticated all-wheel-drive system has an electronically-controlled centre differential which is hyper-responsive making it a welcome companion in the warmer months when tackling back roads with fervour and in slippery winter conditions.
The suspension has been tuned for an balance between ride and handling, resulting in well-controlled, lean-free manners in the corners without sacrificing ride quality.
There are times, however, when you are reminded this is not a particularly svelte car, tipping the scales at more than 4,000 pounds filled with liquids, but absent any occupants.
The Lexus RC350 is an attention-getting, if not polarizing, luxury sport coupe. The silky-six and well-sorted suspension ensure it performs up to expectations while the AWD system ensures it will do so year-round.
Model: 2016 Lexus RC350 F-Sport AWD
- Price: $58,250 base, $63,727 as tested including freight
- Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 307 horsepower, 277 lb.-ft. of torque
- Transmission: six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
- NRC rating, litres/100 km city/highway: 12.6 / 9.2
- Length: 4,695 mm
- Width: 1,840 mm
- Wheelbase: 2,730 mm
- Weight: 1,765 kg
Disclaimer: Pricing in this article may not be accurate, please speak to our Sales and Leasing Professionals for more accurate pricing.