WASHINGTON — It has been a while since Lexus made a true coupe: The old Lexus SC 300/400s were stylish and pricey machines in the 1990s. Now there is another Lexus coupe — the RC with a 306 hp V6 and an F Sport package, a sportier version of the coupe without a harsh ride.
The luxury coupe is a tough and crowded market for sales, with the Germans and Cadillac competing as well.
New this year is the addition of a cheaper four-cylinder turbo model. We’re looking at the V6 version, but if that’s not enough, there‘s even a V8 version called the RC-F with 467 hp. But that’s more pricey than the loaded $54,595 RC 350 coupe I drove.
The RC coupe is very stylish for a Lexus, with the now-trademark large, odd-shaped grill which works well with this coupe. The rear end has some vents near the rear bumper behind the rear wheels, but some thought that was too much for a Lexus. Others loved the look and complimented the slick 19-inch wheels, which help complete the styling. It does stand out compared to the competition, which chooses more conservative-looking coupes.
The inside of the RC350 is your traditional, luxury-oriented Lexus. By choosing the F Sport package, you get sport bucket seats with perforated leather that are heated and ventilated. The steering wheel and shift knob are also upgraded with the package, and the nice-feeling perforated leather adds to the sportier flair of the coupe. The rear seats are best saved for children. There isn’t much leg room or much headroom, either. A forward-facing car seat fits back there, though.
The materials used in the interior feel very nice and look high-quality. The aluminum trim gives it a splash of color. The NAV system works well with a good size screen and the Mark Levinson premium audio system sounds good — with 835 watts, you can always hear it clearly. Another change is the controller. It’s now a touch pad, which works better than the old mouse system, but it’s still not great.
Driving the Lexus coupe is just like driving a luxury car unless you choose the Sport+ mode — then it tightens the car a bit, but it’s never unpleasant. This isn’t a track star but it does fine on back roads. If you leave it in the normal default mode, it feels heavy and wallows a bit when pushed, but it’s a boon when you’re driving it like a normal car. It’s comfortable on the daily commute, like a Lexus should be.
However, this isn’t the most exciting luxury coupe to drive, and does a better job of luxury than sport. The power from the V6 is adequate, but a bit more would be a welcome addition for some drivers as 306 hp seems to really be working hard; at least it sounds good working away. Fuel economy is 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. I managed 21.5 mpg in mixed driving over the week. That’s about what the sticker says, which doesn’t make it the most fuel-efficient ride on the market.
The Lexus RC 350 coupe is stylish and keeps its comfortable Lexus ways, with the nice interior you expect, now wrapped in a sporty-looking coupe. With a more luxurious ride and standout styling, this Lexus coupe stands out in the luxury coupe market, and with AWD you can use this coupe year round.