Toyota’s Chief Executive Officer, Akio Toyoda said he wanted to infuse the Lexus brand with a new spirit. The new mission comes from his racing background and love for fast cars. The CEO of Toyota knew he had to change the culture at Lexus in order to survive. Toyoda wants to compete with the BMW 4 Series, Audi A5, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Cadillac ATS coupe, and the RC 350 was his answer.
This week we saw how Lexus was doing in keeping up with their competitors.
The 2017 Lexus RC 350 all-wheel drive coupe ($45,175) comes with 18-inch wheels, LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, power front seats, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth connectivity, a 7-inch color display, voice controls, and a 10-speaker sound system with satellite radio. Also standard is Lexus Enform Service Connect, which provides access to vehicle status and maintenance alerts via a smartphone app.
The Navigation/Mark Levinson package ($2,550) adds a console-mounted touchpad controller, upgraded voice controls, navigation, smartphone app integration (including Destination Search, Yelp, Pandora, and iHeartRadio), and a 17-speaker surround-sound audio system.
The F Sport package ($3,700) pads on appearance items such as a mesh grille and a unique front fascia. The substantive bits include 19-inch wheels with all-season (AWD) tires, adaptive sport-tuned suspension dampers, and sport front seats. F Sport models also get perforated leather upholstery and trim, heated/cooled seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel (with a heated rim on AWD models), driver-seat memory settings, and a special instrument cluster. Triple beam LED headlights add ($1,160), moonroof ($1,100), and LED fog lamps ($470).
Total MSRP including destination: $57,198.
The cabin’s two-tone black and burgundy color scheme is especially attractive and the F SPORT front seats were comfortable and supportive during our spirited driving this week. The interior features plenty of soft touch material and the quality is first class. If you are looking for comfort, the heated and cooled F Sport front seats will provide it. The F SPORT badge on the bottom of the steering wheel and aluminum sport pedals set the cabin apart from the standard model. The RC still keeps an analog clock, which we think is an interesting choice.
The 10-way power driver seat comes with three pre-set adjustments for different drivers in the family. Push button start and the cooled front seats made the drives comfortable in the August heat we had in Denver. Don’t expect the back seat to be used for hauling adult passengers, however. It’s tight and only useful for smaller children and cargo, though this is normal for a sport coupe. Trunk volume is also a slim 10.4 cubic feet, just big enough for two golf bags.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The Lexus RC 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6, delivering 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft. of torque. The RC 350 will launch from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds which is just about average for a sports coupe. A six-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle shifters came with our full-time all-wheel drive tester. It gets an EPA estimated 19/26 city/highway and 21 combined mpg.
The all-wheel drive RC 350 provides a sporty feel with enough power to handle nearly any driving situation. The optional F SPORT package features a firmer, adaptive suspension, different gauges, and other performance goodies that make this Lexus coupe higher on the fun-to-drive meter than the standard variant. The Lexus RC 350 is well-suited for the performance enthusiast looking for an enjoyable, capable daily driver, and we suggest adding the optional F Sport package. Besides sporty cosmetic touches inside and out, it also adds the adaptive suspension, which improves the overall ride comfort and handling.
The Lexus RC 350 handled extremely well in the curves as we tested the coupe on mountain roads this week. The 306 horsepower V6 has enough power for most driving enthusiasts and we had no problem powering past slower drivers going up I-70, into the mountains, at altitude. If you want the more “torquey” response of the turbocharged engines used by rivals, you may want to look elsewhere, but the naturally aspirated engine in the Lexus RC 350 has a smooth, linear acceleration feel suited for daily driving.
The 2017 Lexus RC 350 is a good choice for those looking for a reasonably performing sports coupe. It’s not as engaging as its German rivals, but the Lexus is a solid choice in the luxury sport coupe segment. The RC 350 with or without the optional F SPORT package offers ample power, agile handling, and makes for a comfortable daily driver.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy