Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the Lexus RC 350.
Lexus now has a couple of hot coupes on the market with the RC 350 and the RC F arriving in recent months.
While the Lexus RC F is the more extreme V8 offering, the Lexus RC 350 features a much more mainstream 3.5 litre V6 engine that doesn’t even have a turbo-charger!
How mainstream? Well, it’s essentially the same engine that you find in Toyota models such as the FJ Cruiser, the Kluger and even the Camry! Albeit, in the RC 350 things are hotted-up a bit and the engine gives you 233kW/378Nm!
This is good for a 0/100km/h sprint in just 6.1 seconds. Power goes to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
In all, this is one really well sorted and enjoyable sports coupe.
The 2015 Lexus RC 350 range is priced from $66,000 for the ‘Luxury’ grade, $74,000 is the starting point for the ‘F Sport’ and the range tops out from $86,000 for the ‘Sports Luxury’ and that’s exactly what I had.
All three variants have the same mechanicals; the only real difference to the drive experience comes via the different wheel and tyre sizes. The entry-level model gets 18” alloys with 235/45 tyres. The mid-spec offering comes with 19” alloys with lower-profile 235/40 tyres.
Step-up to the flagship model and while the front wheel/tyre combo is the same 235/40 combo, you get much wider 265/35 tyres on the rear.
Thankfully, as opposed to other Lexus models I’ve reviewed, the Lexus suspension is tuned correctly for low profile tyres and while handling is exceptional – the ride in the RC 350 is superb.
Brakes, with four-spot calipers up front, also impress. The chassis is solid and feels extremely well balanced.
The engine also provides the best of both worlds – calm and composed at low speeds, when asked to provide some thrills it not only propels the big Lexus coupe along magnificently but it also sounds great too!
There are four different drive modes ‘standard’, Eco, Sport and Sport+. You can easily switch off the traction control via a huge button just near the drive selector controller – be careful though as the RC 350 is more than happy to spin its rear wheels.
Thankfully, if you want to get about in Eco mode the engine still provides plenty of get up and go.
Probably the only real complaint I could make about the RC 350 (and it’s the same complaint made in every Toyota/Lexus car that has this engine) is the fuel economy.
I averaged just over 14L/100kms in my week of city driving in the Lexus and that’s nothing at all to boast about! The Lexus weighs in at a hefty 1740kgs and this doesn’t help!
Boot space is respectable, rear legroom is also about what you might expect, though compared to other sports coupes there seemed to be a lot more headroom in the back. Up front, legroom is pretty good.
Cabin storage areas in the RC 350 are fairly limited and another compartment to hold your mobile phone would be a handy addition.
I’m still not entirely sold on the Lexus mouse-operated infotainment system. Compared to systems such as those used in BMW models the Lexus control seems clunky and awkward. Thankfully, many infotainment adjustments can be made via separate buttons and knobs.
Overall though the Lexus RC 350 has one of the nicest cabins ever produced by Lexus and the fit and finish especially was top-shelf.
If you opt to spend the extra dollars and go for the Sports Luxury grade of the RC 350 then you will enjoy features such as a 17 speaker stereo system with digital radio, sunroof, sat-nav, blind spot assist and a collision avoidance system.
At this stage there isn’t an ANCAP safety rating for the Lexus RC 350.
Summing it up; Lexus is introducing some much needed new models into Australia and the RC 350 is a welcome arrival.
Big, classy, comfortable and confident – this is a Lexus that’s also a lot of fun and just a little bit wild.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2015 Lexus RC 350 Sports Luxury
Engine: 3.5 litre V6 producing 233kW and 378Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic (only)
Safety: Not tested
Price: From $66,000 (Sports Luxury from $86,000)