2014 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

Lexus is quick to point out that it’s all-new RC 350 is no dressed up sedan with the back doors deleted. Saying it’s the real deal, designed from the ground up as a two-door sports coupe.

Having said that we must point out that the RC range does share many out-of-sight components with other Lexus models, in particular the GS and IS series, to keep costs down.

At a starting of $66,000, plus on-roads, Lexus RC 350 is five to ten thousand under the numbers speculated on in recent weeks, and tens of thousands under the six-cylinder coupe offerings from BMW and Mercedes-Benz when spec for spec comparisons are made.

Other makers are right into big-grille designs at the moment – Lexus is taking this to new extremes, going for what you might like to call a ‘huge-grille theme’. We find it a little overpowering, but no one can accuse Lexus of being conservative anymore.

2014 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

The rest of the RC 350 body has a neat coupe shape with a solid touch of the big-selling Toyota 86 in its profile. The rear end is particularly bold, with a large built-in spoiler, side air extractors and a deep diffuser.

Inside there’s an immediate feeling of a sporting design in high quality materials, with cues to the Lexus LFA supercar. The instruments are housed in a typical sportscar binnacle, but as they are electronic different displays can be changed depending on the driver’s wishes, the RC model you are in, and the dynamic mode selected.

We particularly like the centre dash area where the 7.0-inch infotainment screen is neatly shaded and easy to read. The functions on the screen are operated by an improved design of touchpad between the front seats. We experienced far fewer missed hits on this system than the one currently used in other Lexus models.

2014 Lexus RC 350 F Sport steering wheel

Power comes from the already familiar 3.5-litre V6 unit, but with enhancements to add sportiness. It develops up to 233 kW of power, and 378 Nm of torque at 4800 rpm. It’s teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission with sharpened changes, again in the interests of a performance and dynamic feel.

Vehicles like the Lexus RC 350 are all about driving and we had an excellent experience in a full day on a circuitous route from Tullamarine to Lake Mountain and back arranged by Lexus as part of the media launch.

This is a true sports coupe. The big V6 has a great sound and near instantaneous throttle response. Give us a well-tuned naturally aspirated engine ahead of a highly strung turbo engine any day. Turbos are brilliant once they are on boost but can be really frustrating until they manage to get themselves up to decent boost.

Steering is simply brilliant, amongst the best we have ever experienced. Feel and feedback are spot on. Interestingly we preferred the feel of the RC 350 Luxury, the lower cost model. The F Sport and Sport Luxury models have a more complex steering system, including some rear-wheel steer, that doesn’t feel quite as nice in day-to-day road driving, though its added precision would make it stunning on track days.

Yes, track days! This Lexus really is far more than a sporty road car and we can see keen drivers having great fun blasting around circuits in the sports variants.

The front seats are supportive without being too aggressive in their bolsters. The rear seats are designed for occasional use, but we have seen worse as far as head and leg space are concerned. A clever one-touch lever gets the front seats quickly forward so access to the back isn’t too difficult.

Boot volume is very good for a sports coupe and the rear seat backrests can be folded forward in a 60/40 split to let you juggle luggage / people space.

There are no immediate plans for a convertible Lexus RC, but the body certainly looks as though it could cope with the removal of the roof. We would really love to see one, please Mr Lexus.

A brilliant sports coupe, the new Lexus RC 350 seriously undercuts the big name Germans on price and in many ways equals, if not exceeds, them in engine and chassis dynamics. Definitely one to put high on your short list.

The complete Lexus RC 350 range is:
RC 350 Luxury 3.5-litre petrol two-door coupe: $66,000
RC 350 F Sport 3.5-litre petrol two-door coupe: $74,000
RC 350 Sports Luxury 3.5-litre petrol two-door coupe: $86,000
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Lexus dealer for drive-away prices.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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