Lexus launched RC Coupes 5 years ago with a lusty V6. It was joined the year after by the RC200t, a frugal 2.0L turbo 4, which was later renamed RC300.
With 2 trim levels, Luxury, and F Sport, the range is short and sweet, very sweet.
In 2018, the Lexus RC350 had a facelift. Although subtle, it made the previous car look a trifle jowly.
RC’s hourglass grille now has complex lines forming a diamond pattern. Headlights are LED and stacked like jewels in an engagement ring. They’re dusk sensing, with auto high beam.
New 19” wheels on our range-topping F Sport makes the muscular coupe look both chunky, and fast. Under the doors, a body kit flares out in a wind-cheating flourish.
LED tail lights are emphasised by a new black surround, with indicators nestled under a blackened lense. The entire rear end is deeply carved. The bumper’s lower valance is decorated with reflectors, chromed exhaust tips, and a diffuser. Final interest is added by a couple of blackened.
Doorhandles conceal the smart lock system under a small divot in its leading edge. There are seven exterior colours for the Luxury variants.
Luxury variants have four trim colours, two are new – ochre and dark rose. On F Sport, three of the four trim options are new: F Sport Flare Red, F Sport Black/Tuscan Sun (yellow) and F Sport White.
Nappa leather is perforated on the front seats to allow for both heating and cooling. They are power adjusted with memory for 3 positions.
Knee pads either side of the centre console were made just a little higher. The surround on the audio and climate controls got a brushed treatment. A couple of discrete raised lines of chrome, one either side of the temperature readouts, are used by sliding your finger up and down to control temperature.
F Sport scores the excellent Mark Levinson sound system. It sounds rich and clear, and very expensive.
A new clock is borrowed from the LC Coupe, sits in the vent array just below the LCD screen. Also new, is the diamond-patterned Naguri aluminium trim on dash and doors.
Controls for F Sport’s drive modes, gear selector, and infotainment rest on the centre console. Infotainment is fettled via the awkward track pad
Ergonomics are good.
Steering wheel controls are easy to use, including Active Cruise Control located on a stalk just below the indicators. Newer LEXUS cars have this on the steering wheel proper.
Rear seats fold down 60/40 to make the 423L boot incredibly flexible. Rear legroom tight. Seats are mainly decorative.
The view from the front seats is good, but reversing would be hard were it not for the rear-view cameras. Strangely, there is no automated parking.
LED Cabin lighting saves power, and has long bulb life.
Storage includes a couple of cup holders. There are smallish door pockets, but no bottle holders. The glove box, is glove size.
LEXUS persists with the horrible user interface for the otherwise brilliant infotainment system. It would be better off being a touch screen. There is no carplay/Android Auto, but you can still stream music by Bluetooth or USB.
The menu system is complex and could certainly benefit from a thoughtful review.
Speed, camera, and black zone warnings are annoying. They can only be turned off with all voice warnings also being turned off. This includes navigation guidance.
It would be churlish of me not to mention the Mark Levinson sound system again. It adds a richness that would turn a concert hall green with envy. It has a surround sound feature which you can tune to suit just the driver, or all passengers.
Driver instruments have a moveable ring laid over an 8” LCD virtual dash. I’d rather an LCD screen like Tesla or Audi.
Drive and Engine
The 3.5L engine is a bit long in the tooth. Tweaks here and there see fuel consumption at 9.3L/100k. We achieved 7.8L/100k with no special effort.
I’ve no doubt the beautifully designed 8 speed automatic has much to do with it. Changes are quick, and liven up even more in sports modes.
You will sprint to 100 in 6.3 seconds which is no mean feat for a 1740kgs coupe. The 3.5 litre V6 petrol has Direct Injection and Dual VVT-i. It puts out an impressive 232kW/380Nm. It does all this without having air forced down its throat by a turbo, which makes it even more impressive.
Ride has been firmed up somewhat, but is still luxuriously smooth especially on the open road. There are 5 drive modes plus a programmable mode for custom settings.
4 wheel steering is part of the $15,000 enhancement package. Although steering feels direct, it is not as “connected” to the road as a Mazda MX5 or Toyota 86
RC 350 F Sport sits flat in corners. Brakes are sharp and take a few goes to get used to.
LEXUS lavished all its latest safety accoutrements on RC. Of course, there is AEB and brake assist.
Sensors are look around the perimeter for objects approaching. It stops you from changing lanes, keeps you centred in the lane, and has radar cruise control.
Air bags, will deploy if all else fails.
Finally, a reversing camera displays a live video feed in the centre display. Lines predict the path to help guide you in to a tight spot.
- Sexy exterior
- Stylish and tasteful cabin
- Unobtrusive technology
The Not so Good:
- No HUD
- No CarPlay
- Old fashioned foot operated parking brake
RC 350 is a 2+2 sports car. It isn’t designed for 4 full-sized adults for long journeys. You can squeeze a diminutive friend or two in the back, but they’re going to have to be very close friends.
RC is made to be a comfortable tourer. The boot will take a decent load, and it is easy to park.
The metalwork is just gorgeous and the cabin drips with luxury. RC Coupes provide a reliable alternative to the Germans. The look isn’t for everyone, but it is an escape from the ubiquity and blandness of most inner-city car parks.
It has performance and economy for a reasonable price, and has Toyota’s reputation for longevity.
As if all that wasn’t enough, 4 wheel steering knocks the socks off the opposition.
Also Look At:-
2019 Lexus RC350 F Sport Details
- Engine 3.5L V6 cylinder Petrol producing 232kw/380Nm
- Drivetrain 8 speed automatic, 4 wheel Steering, Rear Wheel Drive
- Warranty 4 year / 100,000km 4 Year road side assistance
- Safety not tested
- Origin Japan
- Model Price from $77,500 MLP*
*MLP – Manufacturers List Price includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of any options.