WINE COUNTRY COUPE
2015 Lexus RC 350 F-Sport
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 Thu, Jul 2, 2015
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Story by Mark Dorman
Photography by David Dewhurst
Could it be real? The return of the Lexus sport coupe? Lexus is no stranger to the two door sports car. The SC was a main stay in the Lexus lineup for 19 years. It was discontinued in 2010, and Lexus fans were worried that might be the end of a luxury coupe for this marquee (not counting the LFA supercar). Enter the new RC—a beautiful two door luxury sports car that slots in between the IS and GS in price range.
I wasn't sold on the RC when the pictures first appeared, but after seeing it up close in person, my doubts were calmed. Lexus did a great job on design—this car is beautiful. The lines are aggressive yet graceful, while the overall shape gives the car a dominating presence. The trademark Lexus grill fits the design well, and has begun to grow on me. As with most modern vehicles, you can see a lot of computer-designed aerodynamic elements on the side mirrors, tail lights, etc. It actually adds to the aggressive look. I’m happy to find that the proportions are well-sorted, which was always a bit of a personal complaint on the outgoing SC. The F-Sport 19-inch wheels are styled well and fit the overall look of the car while showing off the massive front brakes that come standard.
The interior of the RC 350 is almost identical to the IS 350 and GS 350. The design looks a little odd at first glance, but it’s incredibly functional and comfortable. Everything you need to access is easily within reach and feels very logically positioned. The leather quality of Lexus is top notch and beautifully stitched together. While in the front seats, there really is not much to complain about. The rear seats, however, are a little more than useless. Headroom in the back is very limited, and the leg room for any passenger is dismal unless those in the front seat are five feet, five inches or under. Consider this as a side-note though, since most people seriously considering the RC 350 will probably not be giving too much thought towards the rear leg and head room. This is, after all, a sport coupe. On the bright side, if you are ever in dire need, those back seats will be there for you like the couch your college buddy had for you to crash on. The rear seats do offer some extra storage space and keeps the RC out of the “sports car” insurance brackets. The trunk is surprisingly roomy for its class. We are easily able to fit two medium-sized suitcases with room to spare.
Being a big Lexus fan, I can’t give this car a normal review. Instead, I take the RC 350 F-Sport and my dearly beloved on a little journey (700 mile round trip) from Orange County to Pebble Beach for their famous Food & Wine Festival (which happens to be sponsored by Lexus).
Our journey begins in Costa Mesa heading north on the 405 on a Friday morning. Our first stop is the Original Pantry in Downtown Los Angeles. A failed attempt at leaving before traffic started ended up giving me a chance to see how the Lexus does in some good old So Cal daily traffic. As much as I'd love to report that Lexus had managed to make a car that makes wading through traffic an utter pleasure, I would be lying. As we all know, that is pretty much not possible, regardless of what car you are stuck in. However, the comfortable seats really do help with the annoyance and stress of trying to make headway in our legendary gridlock. The blind spot detection system makes switching lanes less of a head-whipping event (to make sure it’s safe to merge), but more of a quick check-and-go. Low speed acceleration and torque delivery gives you solid confidence that you can make it in-and-out of lanes safely.
Leaving Los Angeles was a more pleasant journey than traveling through it. Our journey up to Pebble Beach would take us on the 5 and eventually across Highway 46 and up the 101 to the coast. While on the interstate, it’s easy to see how this car really embodies the qualities of a good touring car. The miles seem to melt away as you sit back and relax in comfort and serenity. While the RC isn't as quiet and smooth as some of the sedan counterparts, it still does an excellent job insulating the occupants from road and wing noises. The passing power of the RC is respectable enough to keep you at the forefront of traffic. The weight and stability of the car are also very nice when passing 18-wheelers and the like (anyone who's driven a lightweight compact on the interstate knows what I'm talking about). Fuel economy is pleasantly acceptable. We average 28 mpg on the interstate with a cruising speed of around 80 mph.
The I-5 through California will never make a “Top 10 Exciting Drives” list, but it is a necessary evil to put many miles behind you in an efficient matter. Soon, it was time to turn off the boring interstate and get a little more intimate with our F-Sport friend. The smaller and more curvaceous highways towards the coast had me feeling like a child with a new toy. Up the 101 and on random backroads on the way to Pebble Beach, the RC 350 F-Sport performs beautifully. Power is always on tap. The transmission is quick to down-shift when needed but the direct injected V6 has plenty of torque to quickly move the car in most RPM ranges. The steering is very communicative and precise. However, keeping the RC from handling brilliantly is the immense weight. Though not much heavier than its European rivals, the RC doesn't seem to carry its weight as well.
What makes the RC 350 F-Sport so different from your standard RC 350, you might ask? It’s a knob. Twist the knob in the middle to Sport-Mode and everything seems to change. The Lexus Coupe transforms from a comfortable touring car to a midsize sports coupe. The shifts get more aggressive, the suspension firms up, and the engine even feels like it is making more power. Though still plagued by its weight, the RC new feels like Lexus wants to go toe-to-toe with the Germans. This new car (ehrm, drive-setting) puts an instant smile on my face eating up miles of curvy roads. Driving by the legendary Laguna Seca Raceway I even thought to myself that this would be a fun car to take out on the track for a day.
After a night in Carmel, just south of Pebble Beach, it’s time for the Food and Wine Festival. If you ever question that the design of the RC is breathtaking, know that this can be a show-stopper in almost any venue. The Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival is attended by high profile individuals and their pricey drives from around the country. Even here, with a pretty tough crowd, pulling up to the Valet Booth next to the admissions line we could feel the stares. Seeing everyone from general admission to the Visa Signature VIP Line stop and stare at the car as we pulled up makes one feel a little special. After the event, we take a 17 mile drive up the coast. Every time we parked to take a stroll along the beach, we would come back to people looking over the car and taking pictures of it. Needless to say, the car made the trip.
In conclusion, there’s a lot of competition in this segment, and there are a lot of great options. I will admit, the Lexus might not be the fastest, most technologically advanced, or the cheapest car out there. However, Lexus has really proved that they are taking the competition seriously. They have come to the game ready to play. Though the pursuit of perfection is never ending, Lexus is definitely forging ahead with great strides.
For more information about Lexus products, go to www.lexus.com
For information on the 2016 Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival, go to pbfw.com
Name of vehicle:
2015 Lexus RC350 F-Sport
$47,875 (starts at)
$52,769 (as tested)
EPA fuel economy ratings:
19 mpg city/28 mpg highway
Normally aspirated 3.5 Liter V6
306 @ 6400 rpm
277 pound-feet @ 4800 rpm
Eight-speed Sport Direct-Shift automatic transmission with paddle shifters
Electronic Power Steering (EPS), vehicle speed-sensing rack and pinion
Front: Independent double-wishbone
Rear: Independent multilink
Front: 13.1-in ventilated discs (front)
Rear: 12.2-in ventilated discs (rear)
Length: 184.8 inches
Overall Width: 72.4 inches
Overall Height: 54.9 inches
Wheel Base: 107.5 inches
Curb weight: 3,748 lbs