2018 LEXUS RC 350

SPORTY RC 350 IMPRESSES

Although you may not think of Lexus cars as being sporty, the Japanese automaker does have a good one, the RC. This sexy two-door coupe is designed to do battle with European counterparts from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

The RC features bold styling, starting with a huge spindle-shaped grille. This is Lexus’ signature design statement, and you either love it or hate it. Spooky-looking headlamps that flank the grille contribute to a truly menacing look when you see an RC coming at you in your rearview mirror. Viewed in profile, the RC features sharp creases in the sheet metal, and enlarged wheel arches that convey a strong, muscular image.

Step inside, and you’ll slip into seats that are well finished (red leather in my test car) and contoured to hold you snugly in place during vigorous driving. But you’ll view a dash that is rather disjointed, like it was designed by committee. It’s highlighted by a large 10.5-inch display (new this year) that sits top center. A touch-pad interface on the center console activates the infotainment system. It’s easy enough to operate when you are stationary, but can be distracting to use on the road. The RC has plenty of room for passengers up front, but the backseats are only suitable for small kids.

Lexus offers a host of both standard and optional luxury features. My test car was equipped with keyless entry and start, 10-way power seats, a moonroof, a Mark Levinson sound system and navigation, but, unfortunately, no Apple Carplay or Android Auto. Safety features abound too, including forward-collision warning and braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors and rear cross traffic alert

The RC comes in three versions, the RC300, the RC350 and the RC F. The 300 is equipped with a 2.0-liter, 241-hp, four-cylinder engine, or an optional 3.5-liter, 261-hp V-6. The 350 gets the V-6, but it’s tuned to pump out 311 hp. The RC F sports a 5.0-liter V-8 with an awesome 467 horsepower. All-wheel drive is optional on the 300 and 350.

My test car was a RC350 with an eight-speed transmission, rear-wheel drive and the F Sport package. The 350 accelerated quickly, and the overall power was more than adequate. The gearbox was smooth and reacted quickly to down shifts. It also had a selectable drive mode system to enable drivers to choose Sport S, Sport S+ or Eco modes, in addition to the Normal setting. The Sport S quickened the throttle and altered the shift pattern for enhanced performance. The Sport S+ also tightened the steering, and stiffened the suspension as well. Eco, as you might expect, relaxed these responses.

I tried out all of the modes on my favorite back road. Not surprisingly, the Sport S and S+ were my favorites. In the Sport S+ mode, the RC 200T did a terrific job slicing through switchback turns quickly, while maintaining its poise, and it was almost as good with just the Sport S. Furthermore, the ride never felt harsh. You sense the bumps in the pavement, but the suspension smooths out the rough edges. Additionally, this car feels rock solid— no squeaks or rattles, no matter the surface. This is a refined Grand Touring coupe.

Lexus RC prices start at $41,635 for the 300 model. The 350 begins at $44,565 and the powerful RC F goes for a hefty $65,645.

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