2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport AWD… tested in the real world

RC350The new 2015 Lexus RC coupe has not been getting the best reviews on the internet, and I think the blame goes to how it’s being tested.

Most tests have been conducted on the track, and while this is a capable car, it isn’t exactly made to run hot laps all day long.

No, the 2015 RC coupe is a road car, and I just lived with an RC 350 F Sport with all-wheel drive for a week. How did I find it? Read on:

Since the birth of the Lexus brand in 1989, this Japanese luxury auto manufacturer – which is owned by Toyota – has enjoyed a reputation of making very comfortable and reliable vehicles. However, it also has a reputation for making boring vehicles that only appeal to those who don’t find driving exciting.
To change that perception, Lexus spent a lot of years developing a supercar. The end result was called the LFA, and it came out in 2011. This car quickly won the brand a lot of fans thanks to its performance and clever engineering, but it wasn’t going to be a car you’d see on every street corner – mainly because Lexus only made 500 examples of the LFA (with only 5 coming to Canada), and also because it was worth over $400,000.
I love the idea of the LFA, but I have never driven one. I surely would like to get my behind in the drivers’ seat of the LFA, but so far, the opportunity has eluded me. Those who have driven it, call it the greatest car ever made – hopefully I can verify that claim myself some day.
However, I am not too glum for not having driven the LFA, because of the car I had been driving last week. The car you see here today is the 2015 Lexus RC coupe, and it is in some ways the spiritual successor to the LFA. It might not be as hardcore as the LFA, but it is the first new coupe by Lexus since they stopped making their much loved V10 supercar, and it carries over some of its DNA.
As you can tell by its styling, the RC surely has been inspired by the LFA – those flared fenders and the aggressive tail is very super car-ish. I love the looks of the RC coupe, especially when one is outfitted with its optional F Sport pack. This package for me completes the looks of the RC, but it much more than just aesthetics – the F Sport also adds adaptive variable suspension, so you can have a comfy ride one minute, and a firm ride when you’re having some fun in the twisties. The F Sport package also gives you LFA inspired instrumentation, which has a main screen that can move over to reveal more information. This dashboard alone is enough reason to opt for the F Sport package. Couple that with aluminum pedals and a few more goodies, and you’ll run out of excuses to not tick the F Sport options box.RC_int
There are more options to go through. Let’s start with the engine. You can either have a 3.5 litre V6, or a 5.0 litre V8 in the model simply called RC F. Since I haven’t tested the RC F yet, I’ll concentrate on the RC 350 F Sport that I recently spent time in. This model can be had in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD) layout. There are some differences between these two layouts, apart from the obvious. The rear-drive model gets an eight-speed automatic and four-wheel steering. The all-wheel drive model gets a six-speed autobox and a conventional steering system. Not having driven the rear-drive model, I can’t comment on which layout is better, but I will say that the all-wheel drive model was a delight to drive. Even on cold, slippery roads, it offered tons of grip, and the shift speed for the six-speed box is much quicker than I was expecting.
It gets even better. Put it in ‘Sport’ mode and the car feels sharper to your inputs, and the noise it makes when you open the throttle would make even the most jaded car fan smile. This is a fun car to drive, and it made me smile every single time I took it out, regardless if my drive was long, or short. It is quick too. Make use of all its 307 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, and you’ll sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in about 6.0 seconds. If you start enjoying too much, your fuel economy will suffer, hence I averaged 13.4 L/100 km on a cold week with a car fitted with winter tires, whereas Lexus claims the AWD model can average 11.0 L/100 km on a combined city and highway cycle – on a test probably done in the summer. I also hardly ever drove it in the ‘Eco’ mode, which also probably hurt my numbers.
RC_rearOK, so far we’ve covered lots of things that are very good about the RC 350 AWD F Sport, but are there any flaws? Yes, two come to mind quickly. First, even though it is a 2+2 coupe, there is very little room in the back seats for any normal sized humans – best to use these back seats to toss your groceries. Secondly, the touch-pad style controller for the infotainment system is painfully irritating to use, and should not be fiddled with when you’re on the move. This touch-pad also decided to freeze one morning and didn’t work at all – however, the next time I started the car, all was OK.
Apart from those niggles, I truly loved my time with this latest coupe from Lexus. It covers distances with ease, and is a pleasure to drive. In short, it does what I want a luxury coupe to do, and it does it very well. On top of it all, it isn’t even extremely expensive, with prices starting from $54,000. My very-well equipped tester stickered at $63,278 – which was a lot less than I expected it to be.
I like the 2015 Lexus RC 350 AWD F Sport a lot, so much so, that if I had to live with just one car for the next 12 months, I’d want this one.



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