Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Don Cheng
It’s been a while since Lexus made a proper two-door coupe. One could even view the new RC 350 as the spiritual successor to the SC 430 coupe (yeah, remember that one?) with a bit of inspiration from the all-encompassing LFA supercar. Whereas the “SC” stood for sport coupe, “RC” stands for, you guessed it, radical coupe. And quite radical it is.
There are a number of misconceptions about the new RC coupe. At first glance, most people will just consider it a two-door version of the four-door IS sedan. They couldn’t be more wrong. Though it shares similar headlights and body structure, the RC’s wheelbase is actually shorter than the IS, but is longer overall. Rather than categorizing it as a stumped IS 350, it’s easier to refer to the RC 350 as a calculated mixture of current and old Lexus vehicles. You can divide the RC into three parts; the front end is taken straight from a 2011+ GS Sedan, the middle section is from a 2005-2008 IS Convertible, and the rear end is taken from the recent 2013+ IS Sedan. Dr. Frankenstein would be proud.
The other mistaken belief is that the RC 350 is a purebred sports car. That angry spindle grill seems to think so. Rather, I believe the RC 350 would better suit the image of a small GT cruiser than a track-oriented monster. I can’t express how comfortable of a car the RC 350 is on city streets and on the highway. The cabin is like an undiscovered crypt, so silent that you could even hear that mosquito buzzing around the window.
Let’s talk about that controversial front end. It’s got a humpback whale front hood, flared fenders, gaping Nike-copyrighted headlights, and a meshed grill so large it will devour your dangling appendages if you get too close. Have you seen those black aero flares on the rear quarter panels? They look like they could comb your friend’s afro while the exhausts simultaneously blow-dries it. Furthermore, Lexus’ optional F-Sport package takes it to another level with unique 19-inch wheels, suspension tuning, and a various number of interior and technological enhancements.
It’s not a car for everyone, that’s for sure. In fact, it’s more of a love-it-or-hate-it car, and from what I’ve gathered, the widespread opinion is evenly split 50/50. From every angle, the RC 350 gives a noisy and busy look, albeit striking with so many curves and angles. It’s also fairly easy to confuse the RC 350 with the crazier RC F coupe. A quick spotter’s guide for the RC F: stacked quad exhausts, and the front hood vent.
Even though the exterior styling has gotten a bit of criticism, the opinions were unanimous with the Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 paint our tester was wearing. It’s a handsome colour and is one of the more salient features of the vehicle. It costs an extra $650, but if you’re already buying a coupe that looks this profound, why not get the flashy blue to fit the bill?
When it comes to the RC 350’s interior, there’s a lot to take in. Littered throughout the cabin are protruding panels, sharp edges, squares, circles, dots, lines – if you’re lost please consult your preschool shapes book. While messy in theory, Lexus amalgamates it all together for a rather charming looking interior.
The steering wheel gets most of the direct attention and it lies on the hefty side of the scale - the wheel’s center block panel is not as slim as other coupes. And is it just me, or is that Lexus logo look friggin’ huge? The wheel-mounted paddle shifters on the other hand feel spot-on and offer a rewarding clunk when flicked. Other familiar Lexus features include the LFA-inspired tachometer that swings and slides with the push of a button, the white backwash analog clock that keeps the cabin classy, and the tech-oriented dashboard that makes use of a variety of high quality materials such as the matte finish on the audio knobs, the brushed metal polish on the retractable panels and the meticulously stitched leather that unifies it together.
Every current-gen Lexus I’ve sat in had a problem with the gear shifter. The top knob always comes loose and would twist and contort into awkward positions with the slightest nudge. Same thing happened with the RC 350 I recently drove. A quick search on some online Lexus forums showed that many other customers had the same problem, and luckily there was an easy do-it-yourself fix: just pop down the lower shifter sleeve and twist the knob clockwise until it tightens.
The center console is also lacking a bit of storage area but the door panel pockets make up for it. The touch-sensitive temperature sliders (hamburger sliders?) are similar to the one they use in Cadillacs, but these ones are much more responsive to touch and overall work very well. The futuristic looking touchpad has a bit of learning curve but once mastered, it becomes very intuitive. You might even like it more than those traditional rotary dials.
The RC 350’s seats are second to none. They’re incredibly snug and comfortable. You sit at an average height, though not as low as I’d prefer. My head still nudges the roof if I sit up too straight or move about, and the raised center console mildly exaggerates the seating height. The rear seats are more so designed for the little ones, as headroom and legroom is lacking for anyone over 5’7. The good news is that you can fold them down for extra trunk space.
I’ve saved the best news for last and that’s the optional Mark Levinson speakers as part of the F-Sport Series 2 package. There are 17-speakers situated around this moderately sized cabin and they provide some of the best sounds on the market. While most other speaker brands become messy and noisy at higher volumes, the Mark Levinson’s get even crisper and finer. Head to a dealership and listen to it yourself. Satellite radio has never sounded so good.
We’ve already concluded that the RC 350’s exterior gets mixed opinions, and that the interior is one of the comfiest in the biz’, but what about the performance? Remember when I mentioned earlier that the RC 350 should be considered more of a cruiser than a racer? Let me explain. While the triple sprinkle from Lexus’ spice cabinet (aka. spare parts bin) created the RC 350 and cut a lot of the costs to develop new platforms, the compromise gave way to added weight. If you push the RC 350 to the limits, it will disappoint you with understeer and a heavy front nose. However, around town that extra weight is cleverly masked by a well-engineered chassis – the RC 350 rides more like a large sedan than a bona fide sports car. Much of that comfort and composure is due to the Adaptive Variable Suspension that monitors the road and adjusts the springs for optimal damping.
Adding to the garden variety is the all-too-familiar 3.5-litre V6 engine sourced from the Lexus IS 350. It’s certainly no stranger here – you’ll even find derivatives of it in the Toyota Camry, Avalon, and the Highlander, but Lexus has tuned it up to produce 307 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. The proven V6 uses both port and direct injection for ideal and smooth combustion - you’ll feel the difference when you play with a BMW’s inline-six or with Cadillac’s brawly V6 in the ATS Coupe – it’s a smooth operator.
The RC 350 is not so much sporty as it is comfy, but the exhaust does sound pretty nice over 4,000 rpm, partly due to the engine sound generation that pipes in added engine noise through the car speakers. This feature has been widely looked down upon in the automotive world, but Lexus has actually been doing it for years. So has Ford, and even BMW. They’re not ashamed of it either and even list it on their spec sheets. Hey, if it sounds good, I’m game. Synthetic or not, loud is loud.
All-wheel drive (AWD) and rear-wheel drive (RWD) are available options with the RC 350 - Canadians will most likely choose the former. The AWD variant gets paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission while the RWD model gets the more fuel-efficient 8-speed automatic plus four wheel steering and Variable Gear Ratio Steering (think of it like active steering). Most other luxury coupe competitors will offer a proper manual but you won’t find one here.
Be warned, options on the RC 350 can pile up real quickly. There are three option packages to be had: F Sport Series 1 ($3,150), F Sport Series 2 ($6,500), and the Executive Package ($7,200), each adding on their respective features. I won’t mindlessly regurgitate what each package offers, you can easily find that on the Lexus website, but here’s what I recommend. If you want the polarizing looks, go for the F Sport Series 1 package. If you don’t have the appreciation for high-quality sound or active cruise control, steer clear of the Series 2 package. The Executive package loads you up with everything minus the F Sport exterior goodies – so if you want the RC 350 to be a little more subtle with the neighbours, that’s the route to take.
The RC 350 will naturally draw comparisons with BMW’s 435i, Cadillac’s ATS Coupe and Audi’s S5. Those are all perfectly valid luxury coupes, albeit with a heavier drive towards performance. I’ve driven them all, and I can tell you that in the end, the RC 350 is the one I’d choose. Why? Because it’s still your typical Lexus: comfortable, quiet, refined, reliable, and littered with all the latest tech. The RC 350 is not just a worthy alternative to the staple luxury coupes that have dominated the segment for years, it’s also one of the best.
型号 Model: 2015 Lexus RC 350 F-Sport AWD
顏色 Paint Type: Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 ($650)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $54,600
試車售價 Price as Tested: $61,750
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,730
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,695 / 1,840 / 1,400
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,700
引擎 Engine: 3.5L DOHC V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 307 hp @ 6.400 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 277 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Vented disc
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 12.6 / 9.1 / 11.0
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P235/40R19 Bridgestone Turanza