THE ROYAL CROWNS
Lexus RC 350, RC 350 F Sport & RC F
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Tue, Nov 11, 2014
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Reed 'The Traffic Guy' Berry
Technically, the “LA” in LA Car stands for Los Angeles but, for this report, it represents the great state of Louisiana. I have come to the city of New Orleans to drive what could be one of the most exciting new cars on the road, the Lexus RC F, as well as its brethren, the RC 350 and RC 350 F Sport. New Orleans is known as The Big Easy, and that may very well describe the adventure that awaits me. Just looking at these cars makes me realize that I’m about to have BIG fun in a car that will be EASY to become attached to.
I am actually here to see and experience three versions of the sporty 2015 Lexus RC and, while I’m sure both the RC 350 and RC 350 F Sport version will be impressive as well as fun to drive, I must admit that my eyes are drawn to what Lexus refers to as “a 467-horsepower firestorm on forged alloy wheels,” the sleek, powerful RC F. I can’t wait to slide into the driver’s seat and feel the power of this great looking car.
The body styling of the new RC line is nothing short of striking. Bold, sporty and aerodynamic. There is certainly no shortage of the “wow factor” here – these cars were clearly designed not only to attract attention, but also to attract the next generation of luxury buyers and those new to the Lexus brand in the market for a vehicle that combines impeccable styling and impressive performance.
I hate to break up this little automotive threesome but it’s time to spend a little quality one-on-one time with each. How will I fully test the power and performance of these cars on the streets and highways in and around New Orleans, you ask? Needless to say, as a traffic safety expert I plan to obey all speed laws and traffic regulations on a conservative drive around town but, following said drive, these cars will make their way onto the track at the nearby NOLA Motorsports Park for some higher speed fun and excitement.
The RC 350
The RC 350 has a comfortable interior and is certainly driver-oriented. All controls are conveniently placed within easy reach. The interior features an attractive aluminum and wood trim and, while I won’t need to utilize this feature on a sunny 75 degree day, the seats in the AWD (All-Weather Drive) version are heated for comfort in cooler weather. I’ll breathe a little easier during my drive knowing that the RC 350 has a dust and pollen interior air filter.
There seems to be a generous amount of power. The RC 350 features a no-nonsense 306-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with a very efficient transmission. While the AWD version comes with a six speed automatic, the rear-wheel drive model comes with an eight speed SPDS (Sports Program Direct Shift) automatic transmission which allows clutchless manual shifting that is both smooth and relatively quick. Both models come with paddle shifters.
While my focus is on the sporty new vehicle I’m driving, as I make my way around New Orleans I see things that remind me that I’m not in Los Angeles – drive-thru daiquiri bars and, believe it or not, gas for $2.66 a gallon. And a gallon of gas will take you quite a distance in the RC 350 as, considering the power and performance, the fuel economy estimates are fairly impressive at 19 city and 28 (AWD 26) highway.
The RC 350 F Sport
While it looks just about the same from the outside, The RC 350 F Sport turns performance up a notch with slightly different driving characteristics. Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) is standard, while the available Lexus Dynamic Handling system includes rear-wheel steering that results in sharper cornering at lower speeds and improves vehicle stability at higher speeds. This car has the performance and agility you would expect upon graduating from “sporty” to “sportier” in the RC line.
And the RC F
But not content with simply being sportier, I eagerly move on to the sportiest vehicle in the line, the RC F. With an MSRP of just over $62K it is a bit (okay, quite a bit) pricier than the RC 350 and RC 350 F Sport, both in the 40s. Without singing the popular Pharrell Williams song, let me just say this car makes me happy. Aside from the stunning exterior paint colors, no detail has been spared in the crisp design of this car. A variety of exterior features, including larger, wider wheels and tires, a bold black mesh spindle grille and stacked exhaust tailpipes make this one eye-catching ride.
With a 5.0-liter 467-horsepower V8 engine, this is the most powerful Lexus V8 performance car to date. Combine this massive engine with the aforementioned eight speed SPDS transmission and you have a car that will take you from zero to 60 in about 4.4 seconds with a top track speed of 170 mph. I assumed it was just a clever styling feature, but the center of the hood is actually raised a bit to accommodate the large V8 engine.
This car was clearly designed with performance and aerodynamics in mind. It is built on the same wheelbase as the RC 350 but it is slightly lower, wider and longer, as well as having lower-profile tires. There is an active rear wing that deploys from the trunk lid at a vehicle speed of approximately 50 mph to increase downforce. The wing retracts when the speed drops below 25 mph. The driver can control wing deployment manually, if desired.
I can’t really find anything to dislike about this car. It is fast, intuitive, fun to drive and about as agile as any sport coupe can possibly be. Acceleration is effortless and the gearbox shifts with precision. The car handles quite well, especially considering its weight of just under 4,000 pounds. The interior is attractively appointed and has all the high-tech gauges and gadgets you would expect to see in a vehicle of this type. The sound of power fills the cabin, most of it from the engine itself but it does get a little help from a sound synthesizer.
Needless to say, the star of the show is the RC F but, from the streets of New Orleans to the track at NOLA, all three vehicles in the RC line perform quite impressively. Drive mode selectors and an ultra-stiff platform combine to produce three exciting new vehicles with a solid ride and exceptional performance in just about any of the driving conditions I’ve experienced during my visit.
Obviously, if a car buyer opts for the RC 350, they will get a nicely equipped vehicle with plenty of power and a lengthy list of features, including upward facing ambient lighting, rich looking layered shimamoku wood trim and a more-than-adequate 256-watt 10-speaker sound system. Those with a bigger checkbook and the need for additional power and added enjoyment will probably find the RC F, equipped with the optional 835-watt 17-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound system, more to their liking.
Here in New Orleans, any of the vehicles in the new RC line are certain to make the local Cajuns say “Cho! Co!” (Wow!)
For more information on Lexus products, go to lexus.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicles: 2015 Lexus RC 350 2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport 2015 Lexus RC F Base MSRP: RC 350: $42,790 / RC 350 AWD: $45,025 / RC 350 F SPORT: $46,775 RC F: $62,400 EPA Fuel Economy Estimates (miles per gallon): 19 City/28 Highway (RC 350) 19 City/26 Highway (RC 350 AWD) 16 City/25 Highway (RC F) Engine type: RC 350: 3.5-liter 24-valve DOHC V6 RC F: 5.0-liter 32-valve DOHC V8 Horsepower: RC 350: 306 @ 6,400 rpm RC F: 467 @ 7,100 rpm Torque: RC 350: 277 @ 4,800 rpm RC F: 389 @ 4,800 – 5,600 rpm Transmission type: RC 350: 8-speed electronically controlled automatic with paddle shifters RC 350 AWD: 6-speed electronically controlled automatic with paddle shifters RC F: 8-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic with paddle shift and manual mode Drivetrain: RC 350: Rear-wheel drive; RC 350 AWD: All-weather drive RC F: Rear-wheel drive Steering: RC 350: Rack and pinion RC F: Electric power steering: speed-sensing rack and pinion, power assist Brakes: RC 350: Four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes; anti-lock braking system RC F: Four-wheel power-assisted Brembo disc brakes; anti-lock braking system Wheels: RC 350: 18-inch aluminum alloy RC F: 19-inch forged aluminum Wheelbase: 107.5 inches Overall length: RC 350: 184.8 RC F: 185.2 Overall width (mirrors unfolded): 81.5 inches Overall height: RC 350: 54.9 inches / RC 350 AWD: 55.1 inches RC F: 54.7 inches Curb weight: RC 350: 3,748 lbs / RC 350 AWD: 3,891 RC F: 3,958 lbs