Chris Miller road tests and reviews the new Lexus RC 350 Coupe.
Svelte lines and a punchy 3.5 V6 headline in the all-new 2015 Lexus RC 350 Coupe, a car built from the ground up as a coupe that has real sporting prowess and more technology than you can poke a stick at.
Designed to take the fight to the 4 Series BMW, the Lexus undercuts the price of a similarly equipped BMW by a significant amount. The Luxury version of the Lexus RC 350 tested kicks off at $66,000 before on road costs, while a 435i BMW starts play at $108,530 - that makes the Lexus a whopping $42,530 cheaper, and the Lexus has more power.
The Lexus is considerably heavier than the BMW however topping the scales at 1740kg, a full 215kg bulkier than the BMW, which would explain the BMW’s performance and efficiency advantages.
That said, choose the Lexus over the BMW and you’ll have enough money left over to also buy a VW Golf GTi, highlighting the value the RC 350 represents.
Under the bonnet is a familiar 3.5 litre V6 that loves to rev. It spins quickly to the red line and has a genuinely addictive note. Producing 233kW/378Nm the Lexus RC 350 is capable of a 6.1 second sprint to 100km/h.
It also has plenty of power on tap for high speed overtaking manoeuvres and linked to a sharp 8-Speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddles for manual control, the RC 350 is a real driver’s car.
Unfortunately it has a thirst like a drunken sailor, during our test week it consumed premium unleaded at a rate of 12.6 litres per 100km - a long way off the official claim of 9.4 litres per 100km.
The rear wheel drive Lexus RC 350 is a competent handler. Nimble and easily thrown around it changes directions quickly and easily with only the slightest hint of body roll, and while it’s not in sports or sports plus mode, has a compliant, soft ride.
The steering is sharp and communicative, it does have a tendency to understeer a little, but overall it’s predictable and enjoyable to drive at speed.
It is snug in the driver’s seat, I’d suspect those who have a passion for dim sims and cake might find it a little too tight, but the cocooning nature of the cabin makes you really feel like you are a part of the car.
The chunky steering wheel feels great and the interior architecture has everything fall easily to hand. Visibility is a little restricted from the high waisted Lexus but with a decent reverse camera and a full suite of sensors, it is easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces.
The cabin has luxury feel to it and is very similar in layout to the Lexus IS sedan. Classy ambient LED interior lighting adds a nice touch and high quality leathers wrap the dash and seats, with the front pews a real highlight.
Contoured and attractive, the front seats are electrically adjustable and have a heating and cooling function.
The stubby gear lever is a delight to use although the mouse type system used for scrolling and selecting from the endless menus is too fiddly for my liking.
A decent seven inch colour display is easily personalised and is nicely integrated into the dash. The menus can be a little overwhelming at first when it comes to controlling the sat nav, audio systems and vehicle settings, but after living with it for a couple of days things start to make sense.
Standard digital radio and a thumping sound system are a pleasing inclusion, as is the easy to set up Bluetooth, the smart entry and start, LED head lights and attractive 18 inch alloys. You can add a sunroof for $2,500.
For my money, the Lexus RC 350 is a real winner.
The drawbacks are a lack of a stop start system that contributes to its thirst for premium unleaded; the excess weight it carries doesn’t help there either.
The highlights however far outweigh its shortcomings; a thoroughly modern body and beautiful interior pamper you, while a punchy V6 hooked up to a sharp transmission with accurate, predictable handling make the RC 350 a joy to drive.
Then there’s the price….probably the biggest reason the Lexus RC 350 will make you smile.
NUTS and BOLTS - 2015 Lexus RC 350
Engine: 3.5 litre V6 producing 233kW and 378Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic (only)
Safety: Not tested
Price: From $66,000
Photos by Jeff Cooper - Contact Jeff at [email protected]