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2015 Lexus RC 350 F-sport Review By John Heilig


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2015 Lexus RC 350 F-sport

By John Heilig
Senior Editor
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

SEE ALSO: 2015 Lexus RC Photo Gallery

AUTO PAGE SPECS

REVIEWED MODEL: 2015 Lexus RC 350 F-sport
ENGINE: 3.5-liter DOHC V6
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 306 hp @ 6,400 rpm/277 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm
WHEELBASE: 1075 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 184.8 x 72.4 x 55.1 in.
TIRES: P235/40R19
CARGO: 10.4 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway/17.4 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 17.4 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 3,891 lbs.
STICKER: $54,650 (includes $925 destination charge, $8,700 options)

BOTTOM LINE: The Lexus RC350 might be considered the production version of the LFA supercar without the carbon fiber body panels and other exotica. Its great styling drew longing glances wherever we went. As it should be with a car that looks like this, there was great performance and acceleration from the V6 engine, and fabulous handling.          

Lexus has been teasing itself into the sports car segment for a couple of years now. The SC convertible and coupe had the styling, and while performance was good, it wasn’t great.          

Now Lexus offers the RC 350 coupe. Our tester was the F Sport version, meaning it had extra goodies such as a specific front bumper and spindle grille, F Sport tires and wheels, special seats, aluminum pedals, and an Adaptive Variable Suspension that gives the RC350 a flatter cornering attitude.          

Well, I hate to sound as if I’m being picky, but that stiff suspension led to a hard ride most of the time. Ride quality is good and comfortable on long rides over smooth roads, but smooth rides are hard to find in Pennsylvania, especially in the winter.          

And the engine, while it delivered excellent performance and acceleration, was pretty noisy all the time. It wasn’t obnoxious, but I, personally, would have liked it to be quieter.          

I would have liked the engine to be equipped with start/stop technology that would have shut the engine off when we were at traffic lights. It might have helped with our overall economy readings.          

Enough complaining. Our tester had all wheel drive that worked very well in snow. Granted, we didn’t try it in the really heavy stuff (all that had been plowed earlier), but there was enough residual snow to give it a test. The RC has three transmission options – eco, normal and sport, with a “snow” switch.          

In general, the ride quality is good, thanks to front seats that offer excellent side support. However, good side support leads to entry and egress issues, especially for senior citizens.          

For a sporty coupe, the RC 350 has a good trunk. It only measured 10.4 cubic feet, but a) it is well designed, and (b) it is possible to drop the rear seat backs to min crease cargo capacity. And, in my opinion, the rear seats could probably be deleted and the space kept for cargo. Rear seat legroom is almost nonexistent anyway.          

The RC has a clear virtual instrument panel with a large tachometer front and center with a digital speedometer inset. You can choose options to move the large dial for more information on the side. The soft touch dash has a lot of “carbon fiber” touches, as well as on the window control panels on the doors.          

The Mark Levinson audio system is excellent, but I had issues with Entune trying to find the preferred stations. I confess that it was probably my fault.          

The RC350 has a full suite of safety features. Along with a blind spot monitor, the rear cross traffic alert was a godsend with piled of snow all over (thank God we don’t live in Boston). I’m certain the RCTA saves some dings at the least. In addition, the RC has a back-up camera with turn indicators and intuitive parking, which lets you when you are too close to other vehicles or curbs when you are parking. Dynamic Cruise Control kept us a safe distance from the vehicles in front of us, although the large perforated disc brakes could have stopped us in most emergencies.          

In the center of the dash is a multipurpose screen, used for audio and navigation. While the map portion of the navigation was clear, I found it difficult to program a destination into the system. The “mouse” in the center console was too touchy and I couldn’t get it to settle on my desired input, so I quit trying.          

Overall, the RC350 is a fun car. I would have preferred to drive it in the summer, or at least the spring, but if the schedule gods choose to give it to me in the dead of winter, so be it. It has some quirks, but it is still at the top of the sports coupe class.  

2015 The Auto Page Syndicate