By Shari Prymak
On the surface, the Lexus RC 350 portrays the proper image of a premium two-door sports coupe. Its eye-catching appearance suggests high performance perhaps similar to what one might expect from a proper sporting brand. Although it has the guise to convince onlookers, the RC is not a sports car, and it doesn’t really try to be one. Instead, it is something far more sensible; a stylish, upscale coupe designed for eating away miles in total comfort and luxury.
Despite its sporty pretensions, it only takes a little while behind the wheel to realize that the RC350 is not about high performance. It handles corners just fine, but it’s not as sharp and engaging as something more athletic and driver-focused such as the BMW 2-Series. The naturally-aspirated 3.5L V6 engine under the hood is probably the most exciting bit, offering smooth power delivery and satisfying engine note that no turbo 4-cylinder rival can match. It’s a satisfying driving experience, but not as exciting as its striking looks may suggest. The RC’s real talent is melting away long stretches of highway or congested city commutes with ease and comfort. As a sporty grand tourer or cruiser for daily use, it’s ideal.
The interior of the RC is pretty much the same as what you’d find in the outgoing IS sedan, which is mostly a good thing. The F-Sport treatment includes a cool sliding, LFA-inspired, instrument gauge, adaptive variable suspension, beautiful 19 inch rims, and several other must-have goodies. A major highlight is the amazingly comfortable and supportive sport seats. They’re covered in a synthetic material called NuLuxe, which not only looks and feels like high quality leather, but is almost guaranteed to age a million times better as well. Like on other Lexus models, the track pad-based infotainment system is finicky to use, but at least it has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
The RC 350 comes configured only one way with an MSRP of $62,300. The BMW 4-Series or Mercedes C-Class Coupe arguably offer more brand cache and luxury, but they are also more expensive to purchase and operate long-term. The RC forgoes complicated technology such as turbochargers and instead relies on time-tested components backed by the Lexus brand’s reputation for exceptional long-term reliability. For those seeking a trouble-free long-term ownership experience, the RC is vastly superior to any of its rivals. In other words, you get the full luxury car experience without the headaches.
Since the RC isn’t really about performance, the entry-level RC 300 might just be the sweet spot in the range. It has the same all-wheel drive system and 3.5L V6 engine as the RC 350, but detuned from 311 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque down to a still healthy 260 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. The RC 300 starts at $49,150, but for an MSRP of $56,900, you can get the full F-Sport treatment with the same driving experience, features, and style as the RC 350 for less money. All in all, it is quite an appealing package. Serious driving enthusiasts might not be swayed, but for someone looking for an upscale, comfortable, well-built coupe, the RC can’t be beat.