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Driving Notes: Lexus RC350 F Sport

6 years ago

It’s official: Lexus is on a roll. Hot on the heels of the sharp-looking (and driving) NX crossover comes this – the two-door RC sports coupé.

Much like the NX, there’s plenty of design leadership going on here: the BMW 4-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupé, and Audi A5 are all conservatively penned, compared to the Japanese effort.

But while crisp, dramatic lines outside are important for any luxury coupe newcomer, is the RC any good for a weekend away for two? To find out, we’re taking a lava-orange RC350 F Sport on two road trips – Sydney to Canberra, and then Sydney to Byron Bay – to find the answer.

The RC’s competitive pricing, listing from $66,000 for a 3.5-litre base Luxury model, was received by gasps in the industry when announced in December. Lexus trim lines and option packs are often expensive, though, and our heavily-optioned F Sport hits the road at $90,604. Not exactly late sixties,

With the first 300 kilometre stretch between Australia’s coastal capital and Australia’s actual capital under our belts, first impressions of the RC have been strong.

The first thing is that we’re happy to declare that Lexus has left its staid personality in the past. This car is seriously bold. The orange hue is exclusive to the F Sport, but the bold wheels and body kit only add to the visual excitement. Less than 24 hours with the car has seen a stream of positive comments, and photos snapped from passing cars.

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The cabin is perhaps the weakest link – the two-tiered layout makes space tight; cubby-spaces are limited, and the small, low-res navigation screen doesn’t stand up to the (optional, it should be said) widescreen on the BMW.

The seats, though, are well-bolstered and comfortable, especially for slimmer frames.

The 3.5-litre V6 shared with the IS350 is just as peppy and refined as we remember, with 233kW of naturally-aspirated power making it a very competent highway cruiser. The eight-speed automatic isn’t as smooth as BMW’s ZF-sourced gearbox, but it’s happy to purr along – and to produce a mean, winding-up growl under hard mid-range acceleration.

As expected, it doesn’t sip fuel: it gulps. While the 4-Series and others have employed turbochargers for maximum efficiency, this old engine has none of that: no turbo, no stop-start, no cylinder deactivation. The result is 9L / 100km economy on the highway, and 13+ in town.

It’s wonderfully easy to drive though – and it seems more rewarding, too. The steering remains a little artificial, but it’s an improvement over the IS sedan and is nicely weighted, on the heavier side, during faster cornering.

It’s a good thing there’s just the two of us, as space in the back is pretty much limited to overnight bags. The boot, though, is impressively large.

With the RC parked up for the night in Canberra, we’ll certainly have more to say in our full review, after experiencing more than 1,500 more kilometres.

15/Lexus/RC/RC350/F Sport/Lake George R34