The new RC coupe stands and delivers in pretty emphatic fashion for Lexus, a model with the striking good looks to stand out in the premium luxury car crowd.
This model has does a great deal to make the company a credible producer of to high quality and stylish performance coupes. Two models are offered; the 5.0 litre V8 RC F and 3.5 litre V6 RC350, with the latter expected to account of the bulk of sales. The rear wheel-drive RC350 is powered with considerable thrust by the same 233kw all-alloy port-injected 3.5-litre V6 that features in the Lexus IS350 sedan, where it does an equally impressive job. The RC350 is offered in F Sport and Limited spec. The RC F. rules the performance roost with its new naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 developing a rousing 330kW and 500Nmof torque.
Lexus are at pains to point out the RC isn’t just a two-door version of the IS350 sedan, but a clean sheet created to be a genuine stand-alone two-door sports coupe. For all that, the styling from some angles, makes more than passing references to the lines of IS350 sedan and that isn’t necessrily a bad thing, as it’s a smart looker. A huge effort has gone into to ensuring the RC gets that often elusive blend of style and performance nailed. This is evident from its squat low slung profile to the distinctive spindle grille and cleverly integrated LED headlights, that are almost a cut and paste job from the IS350. The underpinnings and a unique new interior designed were all specifcally produced for this car.
In keeping with its e prestige image, RC coupe owernship comes at a price, and a fairly substanti al one at that, with the F- sport version supplied for this road test, selling for $122,500 and the Limited mode for an extra $3000. The eye watering performance of the V8 RC-F comes with equally eye watering prices starting at just whisker under $160,000, while the top of the line version will set you back $175,000.
The silky smooth 233kw 3.5 litre V6 under the hood of test vehicle is one of the best engines to bare the Lexus nameplate and for a non-turbo six, deceptively quick. Throttle response is sharp and bristling with intent. The engine maintains an unwavering commitment to the highest performance standards and the test car never delivered anything less during the few days I drove it. The motor has real verve and character, as you would expect from a car in this lofty price league. The throaty exhaust note will strike a positive chord with those who value these automotive nuances in an engine.
Lexus claim a blink of an eye 0 to 100km/h sprint time of 5.6 seconds, a seriously impressive figure that shows this car is a serious luxury performance coupe contender, not a pretender.
The eight-speed electronically controlled automatic produces crisp clean gear changes on time all the time, regardless of the driving situation or challenge. A manual shift mode is offered, but this transmission does things so superbly when left to it’s own devices I was never tempted into dabbling with the manual mode.
Room in the meticulously finished cabin isn’t exactly in plentiful, but there is enough, but only just, to get by. While there are two rear seats this car really is only a true two-seater, as the back pair of pews only provide enough room to shoe horn in a hobbit. In almost a show of solidarity, the boot compartment is of equally modest proportions, with enough space to pack in the essentials for a long weekend, but not a lot else.
RC350 owners are lavished with standards features such as climate control air conditioning including independent controls for the driver and front passenger. A cool idea that avoids any heated discussions between the driver and front seat passenger, over who calls temperature shots. The smart entry and start set up is clever letting you lock or unlock the doors, start the engine, and open the luggage compartment. It does all this, without removing the key from your pocket and leaves anyone watching all this, wondering what on earth is going on!
Like any Lexus, the RC line-up arrives with an exhaustive suite of safety kit. You get eight airbags, along with a Pre-Crash safety System (PCS) that detects possible collision between the vehicle and an obstacle in front through the use of radar technology. The PCS system also incorporates Pre-Collision Brake and Pre-Collision Brake Assist software designed to assist the driver in bringing the vehicle to a stop as quickly as possible.
Every RC features a Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM). This coordinates control of the powertrain, electronic braking system, steering and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC). Monitoring continually, the VDIM can anticipate a loss of traction and ensure active safety systems such as the Traction Control and anti-skid braking work in together to help regain control of the vehicle as smoothly as possible.
The Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system that controls body roll and damping force raises road holding to a new level for a Lexus. Depending on how the RC is being driven and in what environment, the system uses this information to smooth’s out resulting changes in the movement of the car, ensuring they are controlled and measured, not sudden and scary! The driver can tweak the damping force to suit what they want in the way of handling stability and ride by selecting the SPORT S+ setting.
The test car scooted along with confidence and composure over twisty terrain roads and was responsive and adapted quickly to changes in the road surface. If you had to be picky, the steering lacked the sort of direct road feel you would expect in a performance model such as this. Overall ride quality provides enough pampering without any discernable reduction in road holding. Lexus have done a pretty good job of balancing the often tricky and fraught ride and handling equation.
What’s the verdict? Effectively a classy looking and impeccably built coupe version of the impressive the Lexus IS350 sedan, although lacking the dynamic finesse of some of its European rivals.