At the top of the Lexus coupe food chain, if you forget about the gorgeous LC, you’ll see the RC F. It’s a hardcore, V8-powered BMW fighter that delivers on performance, looks, and sound. But it’s also a bit rough-and-tough for the daily drive. The RC 350 sits just below the full-blown F version, and might offer the right mix of performance and comfort to be your daily-driven sports coupe.
Powering the RC 350 is Lexus’s 3.5L V6 engine with VVT-i and port and direct injection. It even has a cool air intake. It makes 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated exclusively to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and that transmission drives the rear wheels in our review car — all-wheel drive is an optional extra.
The F Sport package adds some performance bits, including F Sport wheels, summer performance tires, and a cool TFT instrument cluster that is ripped from the LFA supercar. It also adds heated and cooled performance seats, blind spot monitoring, and an adaptive variable suspension with a Sport+ mode.
In a lot of ways, it’s a RC F with a bit less horsepower. The seats aren’t as aggressive in the bolstering on the RC 350, and the suspension isn’t as stiff (even in Sport+ mode), but the rest of the go-fast goodies are there. If you could get it with the RC F’s optional torque vectoring rear differential you’d have a serious performer on your hands.
Blasting down our favorite back roads is genuinely fun in the RC 350 F Sport. The transmission’s shifts are quick and responsive, for an automatic, and the lag between pulling a shift paddle and the car shifting is minimal. Though it won’t hold redline and will automatically upshift, which is a bummer.
Settle down for a long-distance cruise and the RC 350 is a faithful companion. The seats are plenty comfortable to log a lot of miles, and the infotainment system is packed with features so you don’t get bored. You have satellite radio, navigation, Bluetooth hands-free, and HD radio. Missing is Apple’s Car Play and Google’s Android Auto support.
While the infotainment packs the features you want, it’s controlled by an infuriating touch pad interface that will have you wanting to punch the infotainment screen in anger. The small-ish screen isn’t touch enabled, so you have to use the trackpad. Of all the systems we’ve used recently, this one is probably the worst for user control.
Luckily, there are voice commands that can help you though it, and Lexus’s Directions Assistance feature allows you to talk to a real human being who will download the directions into the navigation system.
Being a 2-door coupe, there isn’t a lot of room in the rear seats. They’re usable in a pinch, but if you need back seats regularly you’d be smart to look at a Lexus GS or the smaller IS to meet those needs. Also, remember with a coupe the doors are a bit wider, so in tight parking spaces you want to make sure you aren’t dinging the doors of the person next to you.
If you stay off the throttle, fuel economy is pretty acceptable for the level of performance. It’s easy to hit or exceed the 28 miles-per-gallon highway fuel rating from the EPA.
For a fully-loaded Lexus performance coupe that’s fun to drive but doesn’t have a ride that’ll annoy your significant other, the Lexus RC 350 F Sport is a solid pick. There is a 200t turbocharged version that might also be pretty good, but overall the 350 is the well-rounded performance package we’re the most-happy with in the RC model. Plus, with an as-tested price of $50,280, it strikes us as a bit of a bargain.