The 2015 Lexus RC 350 is new for 2015, making its debut as the coupe version of the existing IS sedan. Lexus is taking aim at cars like the Audi A5 and BMW 4-Series with a heavy dose of sporty styling and the handling to match.
A sports car should look like one and the Lexus RC 350 looks slick. That signature Lexus spindle grille comes off as more aggressive. It’s all curves with a long hood that take it in a different direction than the rest of the lineup.
It’s aiming so squarely for the sports car set that more traditional sedan styling is pretty much thrown right out the window. We approve. There are LED headlamps and LED daytime running lights with dual chrome exhausts at the rear. Our tester featured 19″ aluminium wheels for an extra $660 to up the sport factor. They look fantastic.
The interior is about as cockpit-like as a car can get with low, well-bolstered seats that feature both heating and cooling thanks to the Luxury Package ($2,700). The driver gets 10-way power adjustable seating with 2-way lumbar support while the passenger gets only 8-way power adjustable seating. That package also adds blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, and leather interior trim.
The rear seats are fooling no one into thinking they’re seating for adults. Even kids will find barely enough room. Taller folks up front means their seat backs are going to be all the way up against the rear seats leaving no leg room. They’re perfect for holding a few bags, but nothing more. They do split 60/40 should you want to load something long into the trunk.
The dash features a 7″ navigation screen that is controlled by a touchpad on the center console. The Remote Touch pad replaces the old mouse interface. It accommodates swipes, pinches, zooms, and all the other motions commonly used on touch devices. Never a fan of the old mouse system, this unfortunately isn’t an improvement.
It sounds like a great idea, but in practice is still very difficult to use. Even the slightest bump will send the cursor shooting off in the wrong direction and it simply does not feel right, like it’s out of sync. The end result is a system that requires an undue amount of attention to use effectively.
The Lexus RC 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 with 306 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. This is paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters should you want more control. Manual transmissions are not an option. There is a Drive Select Mode knob to switch between Eco, Normal, and Sport, and a Snow button for winter weather. Eco is, as expected, not a lot of fun, but Normal offers a fair degree of sportiness that will make most drivers happy.
Switch things to Sport and use the paddle shifters and you’ll be very happy. Handling is crisp and responsive with very little roll in the corners. This things sticks to the ground and encourages you to take every corner just a little bit harder than you might otherwise. This is fine, because the RC 350 is well-mannered enough to do the job without any effort.
Acceleration is strong, and although it won’t throw you back in your seat, it will get your blood pumping. The sound of the car, too, is simply wonderful. No luxury sedan purr here, but instead a loud, growling engine note that matches up with the car’s performance.
This being a Lexus, it doesn’t come cheap with our tester coming in at $51,775. That leaves a lot of room for competitors with similar cars with lower prices. Another hit to the wallet comes from fuel economy of 19/26/21 city/highway/combined. You aren’t buying a sports car for fuel economy, but it’s something to consider if you have a long commute.
Overall, the Lexus RC 350 makes an impressive debut. It looks stellar inside and out and has the handling and performance to back it up. Ignore the flaky touchpad control for the infotainment system, and you have one stylish and fun to drive coupe at your disposal.
2015 Lexus RC 350
Base Price: $45,025
Price As Tested: $51,775 (not including destination charge)
- Responsive Engine
- Bold Design
- Sporty Handling
- No Manual Transmission
- Fuel Economy
- Maddening Remote Touch Infotainment Controller