by Tony West and Sommer Thornton
Lexus’ Rookie of the Year comes hard for 2015 refining the lux turbo whip. The 2015 Lexus RC 350 is a sexy coupe with dragster power. The RC F Sport adds special badging and blacked-out add-ons outside, plus added appeal on the road and the drag strip with engine and suspension upgrades. And the interior of the RC-F has stylish appointments and cutting-edge performance technology. We reviewed the 2015 Lexus RC 350 with all the bells and whistles including the F Sport package. Along with a cool new Ultrasonic Blue Mica paint job, the stunner took a lot of cues from the Lexus LFA.
2+2 Design with LFA Swag
The 2015 Lexus RC 350 takes design cues from the Lexus LFA, GS, and IS. Luckily, it took the good stuff from the LFA. The 2+2 design adds style with a muscular sloping hood and long wheelbase. The whip has a 107.5 inch wheelbase and is 184 inches wide. Standard features include a color keyed front air dam, color-keyed outside rearview mirrors, and a color-keyed shark fin antenna. LED headlamps, tail lights, brake lights, and license plate lights are standard. Door handles have LED lights too. A combination of multiple LED lamps and cutting-edge lens technology give the rear lights a sparkling effect. Eighteen-inch five spoke wheels and dual stainless steel exhausts are standard.
The sleeker RC F Sport has its own version of the Lexus spindle grille –longer and wider with black mesh. The RC F also features the LFA hood combined with front cooling ducts. An active rear spoiler adds downforce at speeds above 50 mph. The F Sport also adds F Sport fender badges and 19 inch wheels with all-season tires. I like the LFA inspired rear with blades in the bumper and how the L-shaped daytime running lights and headlights rescind and L-shaped tail lights protrude. L-shaped front fender ducts aid cooling and add to the RC F Sport’s aggressive stance.
The rigid RC 350 body is composed of galvanized steel with a one-piece Super Olefin Polymer front and rear bumper. The whip is 43% high tensile steel. The chassis’ front end has design cues from the sporty Lexus GS, and the rear end regretfully from the IS sedan. The center of the chassis design is taken from the IS convertible. Laser screw welding, additional spot welding, and special body adhesives all do their part to help give the RC a strong body.
The RC coupe was a head turner, stuntin on the streets with Technicolor on black swag and effortless speed. Body lines are sexy even at night.
Smooth Stealthy Performance
The 2015 Lexus RC 350 is available in rear-wheel drive or all-weather drive. The naturally-aspired V6 has a distinct but refined growl. The standard 3.5 liter Lexus 2GR-FSE V6 has 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. The subtle beast has direct and port fuel injection and intelligent dual variable valve timing for a broad torque curve and quick response.
The RC 350 front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive feature an 8-speed Sports Direct Shift automatic transmission with intelligence and paddle shifters. The front engine, all-weather drive has a 6 speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with intelligence also with paddle shifters. The front-wheel drive RC 350 goes from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds and has a top speed of 143 mph. While the all-weather drive RC 350 has a top speed of 130 mph and goes from 0-60 mph in 6 seconds flat.
The RC F also offers a new 5.0 liter 32-valve V8 engine that provides increased power at a higher engine rpm. For the first time in a Lexus performance engine, the RC F uses the Atkinson Cycle at cruising speeds for enhanced fuel economy and then switches to the Otto Cycle at higher rpm to develop impressive performance levels. The RC F boasts 467 horsepower and 389 lb-ft of torque.
The 8 speed SPDS transmission combines torque converter smoothness with the shifting speed of a dual clutch trans when shifting manually. A long-level damper for the lock-up torque converter boosts fuel economy and ensures smooth quiet lock-up. The SPDS transmission has three driver-selectable modes, Normal, Sport, and Manual mode that has clutchless manual shifting. The Drive Mode Select tailors the RC’s powertrain, electric power-assisted steering assist curve, a/c, and suspension response.
Eco mode provides steering feedback and keeps revs low to save a ton of gas. Normal mode also increase fuel economy and seamless acceleration for smooth cruising. Sport mode includes a G-sensor Al-Shift control that will automatically downshift during hard braking and hold a lower gear through the corner, and help the driver exit by selecting a suitable low gear. The F Sport adds a Sport S+ mode for maximum handling performance with Adaptive Variable Suspension and the available Dynamic Handling System.
The 2015 RC 350 is a subtle beast on the road with smooth torque delivery across a broad band, and sporty dynamic handling and braking power. I also like that the car remains cool and composed at high or low speeds, and how I can hit the gas and hear a sultry engine growl. I really enjoy the drive modes- Normal mode for cruising with a little aggression, and Sport mode for fluid steering and seamless shifting. In the F Sport’s Sport S+ mode the RC F is exhilarating with pristine corning and supreme agility.
Aerodynamic performance leverages the flow of air over and under the RC350 to help optimized handling at high speeds. Design cues keep this sporty coupe planted and help it slice through the air. Aero-stabilizing fins and flat underbody design aid aerodynamics and enhance sporty speeding. An aero-stabilizing guide behind the front bumper suppresses vortex formation and increases radiator efficiency. Stabilizing fins are also fitted to the tip of the doorframe molding and the rear lights. Ducts in the front bumper enhance aerodynamics and brake-cooling performance. And rear under-floor devices help create negative lift, and the angle of the rear under cover has been raised for optimum aerodynamic effect. All that helps, because the RC 350 F-Sport boasts a combined EPA of 22 mpg (19 mpg city/ 28 mpg highway.)
The new RC 350 F Sport RWD features Variable Gear Ratio Steering, rear-wheel steering, and the Lexus Dynamic Handling System for integrated lateral force and yaw moment control. The Lexus Dynamic Handling System enhances maneuverability at low speeds, increases steering responsiveness at low speeds, and enhances control at high speeds. It integrates electric power-assist steering to control steering, variable gear ratio steering to control front-wheel steering angle, and dynamic rear-wheel steering system to provide 4-wheel steering with the feeling of 2-wheel steering.
Variable Gear Ratio Steering automatically changes the steering gear ratio in response to vehicle speed and driving conditions, providing lighter vehicle responsiveness at low to medium speeds.
The RC F also uses a Torque Vectoring System, a first in a Lexus to increase driving performance with three operating modes. Standard mode yields a balance of nimble performance and stability, Slalom mode adds more agility and steering responsiveness, and Track mode adds racing dynamic stability.
Suspension in the 2015 RC takes cues from the GS sedan. The whip has double wishbone front suspension and multilink rear suspension. The RC F features front and rear coil-spring independent suspension with monotube gas-filled shock absorbers and ball-jointed stabilizer bars.
Suspension was phenomenal in the RC F thanks to the Adaptive Variable Suspension System that addressed bumps and uneven road surfaces so I wouldn’t feel a thing. The AVS system monitors steering input and road conditions and adjust dampers to suit, using inputs on vehicle posture including lean, dive and squat. The AVS system can also increase damping force as an anti-dive measure during emergency braking.
The all-weather drive system uses an electronically controlled center differential to vary the torque split and enhance traction and grip, and gives a rear-wheel drive like response when necessary. The All-wheel drive system and the Variable Suspension System gives drivers supreme luxury cruising or speeding in the RC F, for a truly well-rounded sports coupe.
Whipping the new Lexus RC 350 F Sport is swerving at will in top-notch comfort. The 350 accelerates like a gentle beast, and cruises on any terrain. Yet the beast can be unleashed in Sport S+ mode, when the engine growl intensifies, and agility and power heighten. Yet the interior is always peaceful. The RC F Sport has high-friction brake pads.
Sport-Boosted Premium Cockpit
The 2015 Lexus RC350’s interior that looks modest at first, but boasts some cutting-edge technology in the dash and center stack. The whip has standard NuLuxe leather with aluminum and shimamoku wood trim. The driver-focused coupe has 45 inches of legroom and 37 inches of headroom in the front, but very little in the back. I like the aluminum trim and the LED ambient lighting. There’s also a LED strip on the doors of the interior, and stainless steel scuff plates. Drivers have a standard heated 10-way power seat and passengers have heated 8-way adjustable seats. Though drivers with big hands may have problems fitting them in the tight area where the seat controls are.
The RC 350 F Sport adds heated and ventilated front seats, perforated leather with contrasts stitching, and an aluminum pedal and black headliner. A heated steering wheel is also included and along with the shifter, also boasts contrast stitching.
I really like the combination of buttons and touch controls in this whip. Ambient lighting and some climate controls are touch. Drivers use a remote touchpad that acts like a laptop mousepad for the 7-inch VGA Screen. Instead of toggling, drivers can tap, pinch, and swipe the pad and it vibrates. Also standard is the backup monitor and 10 speaker sound system with Sirius Satellite Radio with real-time traffic and weather. I like how touchscreen shows traffic info by clicking on an icon. The RC350 also has an AppSuite, MP3 Player, 2 USB ports, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free and voice command. Voice command is annoying as hell because of the button on the left of the steering wheel, by the thumb area. When I’m turning it’s easily to accidently activate it and hard to deactivate it.
Optional is a 17-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system, and a backup camera.
The RC 350’s has a dope 4.2 inch TFT Instrument Cluster, liquid crystal display inspired by the LFA. The dash has LCD-type electronic digital twin trip meters, odometer, speedometer, tachometer, and fuel and coolant temp gauges. The speedometer and tachometer have a silver trim.
The F Sport adds some innovative new tech to the dash looking more like a cockpit. The gauge design uses full-length illuminated needles and needle rings and a white outer band with inverted colors. Dopeness is the moving center ring that slides to reveal driving and display settings. The Multi Information Display includes audio, phone, and trip information settings including controls for the instrument cluster. The RC 350 F-sport instrument cluster also offers a speed indicator, a rev indicator, and a rev peak indicator. F-Content with the MID includes track features like a lap timer, torque distribution and G-Force distribution displays.
The RC 350 F Sport loses points with its tiny backseat. There’s a measly 27 inches of rear legroom. The 60/40 split folding seats of this 2+2 whip leave no room, even for large bags. Yet the RC has an impressive 10 cu. ft. of trunk space. With the seats folder, the RC can accommodate items 59 inches long.
The RC 350 interior has a lot of dope new tech that replaces high-end luxury. And contrast stitching and an optional moon roof and frameless rearview mirror adds some fresh flair.
Top-Notch Safety Technology
The Lexus RC 350 offers standard technology like the blind spot monitor with extended detection area which can provide info about vehicles approaching from the rear in adjacent lanes and up to 196 feet behind the vehicle. The whip also has standard rear cross traffic alert.
The RC 350 RWD and AWD models have 13 inch brake rotors front and rear. The RC 350 F Sport has 14 inch two-piece and high-friction brake pads. The rear brake pads are lightweight aluminum alloy. A two-stage brake booster ensures optimum braking effectiveness and controllability.
The RC 350 also has dynamic safety features like electric power steering, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), ABS, traction control, and Vehicle Stability Control systems. Lexus’ Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management System can anticipate loss of traction and help ensure the Vehicle Stability Control, TRAC, and ABS correct it by seamlessly integrating control.
A Pre-Collision system uses radar sensors of the Adaptive Cruise Control to detect a potential collision, then applies the Pre-Collision Brake, and Pre-Collision Brake Systems when a warning isn’t enough. The whip also as a cool lane departure alert.
The RC 350 and its F Sport companion are now trendsetters in the luxury coupe category. The whip can attract ages across the spectrum who want thrills and the skill of a tech-savvy sedan. The RC 350 has an MSRP of $42,790 with the fully-loaded at $54,815. Although Lexus gets a lot right with the RC taking cues from their other luxury sedans, the $63k F Sport can’t compete with the BMW M4, Audi R8, Cadillac ATS, and definitely not the Mercedes C63 AMG when it comes to style or performance. The RC is a great milestone and moving in the right direction, but needs to add more body and more brut on the road to take lead the pack.
Check out more behind the scenes photos from our First Drive with the 2015 Lexus RC 350 on our Facebook Page!