307 hp @ 6400 rpm
276 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
From Japan with love and with enormous momentum, the 2015 Lexus RC 350 comes bashing into the sports coupe segment, giving some serious cut-eye to the BMW 4-Series and Cadillac ATS.
To make an RC 350 AWD F Sport yours, you’ll need to fork out $62,750 CAD, and that is before taxes and fees. The gear you’ll be getting is very generous, as pushing you deep into your seat, the 3.5L V6 with its 307 HP is a sweet engine and combined with the good AWD system and the 6-speed automatic gearbox, it has all the ingredients to be a solid drive. You also get a selection of drive modes, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated leather seats, 19” alloys, dual zone climate, bluetooth, 7” colour display, blind spot monitors, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio, pre-collision system, dynamic radar (aka adaptive) cruise control and park assist.
The RC is by far the sexiest coupe in the segment. It is so striking to look at, it even makes the ATS feel like it would get sloppy seconds on a night out. Lexus did a fantastic job making this car look as exciting as a sporty coupe should be. It rides low and has lines that cross streams in a way the Ghostbusters thought would end the world.
Inside, minus the sportier seats and the seriously tight ones in the back, the rest is pretty much identical to what you get in the IS. That is not necessarily a bad thing as the IS is very nice inside achieving a good balance between comfort, luxury and sportiness, while at the same time incorporating retro and elegant details. Fit and finish is excellent and the materials used are, for the most part, high grade. The LFA inspired instrument cluster and navigation touchpad control remain two of my favourite features.
The 3.5 L V6 doesn’t exactly thrill with its performance, but it is quick enough. The 307 HP and 276 lb-ft of torque are able to propel it to 100km/h in about 6 seconds and pulling power is good throughout the rev-band. The exhaust note is tuned to a very discrete tone and only gets audible near the red line. It feels very technical and too refined, and in a sports car that kind of ruins the fun. The 6-speed automatic gearbox is smooth but can’t compete with the blazing fast boxes the competition is using, so knowing that the 8-speed transmission in the RWD car is much better, I say ditch the AWD and go for the one without the annoying hump under your legs. Fuel economy is slightly higher than the class leaders, as on average during our week-long loan we observed 12.5lt/100km.
Without being a remarkably involving drive, there certainly is a place in the segment that suits the driving characteristics of the RC 350. It is not as precise as the BMW 4-series or as agile as the Cadillac ATS, but it has a charming style as it zips through corners. It surely is comfortable over bumps, giving the class leaders a run for their money and does that even without the adaptive suspension. The AWD system reacts quickly helping the front end grip as hard as possible and with the clever system distributing power where needed, the RC 350 can produce some serious lateral acceleration numbers. The car tends to understeer at first and will only send the rear wide in the process of correcting its course, meaning that it won’t allow oversteer for long. The steering is not very communicative nor does it pack good weight to it, making the car easy to drive but less engaging. The brake pedal is linear and activates the strong brakes that can bring it to a full stop from 100km/h in 42m, adding some confidence to the drive.
Hardcore enthusiasts will probably get a more fulfilling driving experience behind the wheel of an ATS Coupe, but those seeking an easy to live with two-door with looks that kill will look no further than this. And most importantly, probably don’t care about any trade-offs. The RC has been made with comfort in mind, it likes being a GT more than a purebred sports car and in our days, there are a lot of people that like it that way. It is not a matter of better or worse, simply because the purpose is so different. The RC is for the artistic kind that like it trouble free as it will probably be as reliable as a Phillipino baby sitter.
6-Speed Auto is slow
Rear seats too cramped
Not as exciting as it looks