A touch of sporting magic
Inside and out it’s hard to find fault with the Lexus Sport Luxury, PETER BARNWELL writes.
ABSOLUTELY gorgeous, that’s how we would describe the new Lexus RC350 coupe.
No, it’s not the rollicking, inya-face, V8-powered RC-F.
This one is the more genteel 3.5L V6 that starts in price from $66,000 for the Luxury (add eight grand for the F-Sport, or 20K for the Sport Luxury, which we drove).
They are big price increments considering the car is pretty much the same underneath apart from add-on technology, luxury and safety kit. Basically, we’d be pretty happy with the “base” model.
However, we were in the top of the whizzer Sport Luxury, which scores clever kit like adaptive suspension, variable gearing steering, rear steer, 19inch alloys, Mark Levinson power sound, supple leather, heated and ventilated seats and rear camera.
You won’t be wanting for much in the Sport Luxury RC350.
Under the bonnet, the 350 is powered by a 3.5L V6 petrol engine with direct fuel injection into the cylinders and also port injection — just like the Toyota’s 86 sports coupe.
The engine is out of the Lexus GS and has variable valve timing and other tricky stuff to help achieve a robust 233kW/378Nm output — on 95 RON petrol.
Drive goes to the rear wheels through a sports calibrated, eight-speed “direct shift” automatic transmission.
The RC350 chassis is unique but there’s been plenty of leveraging from across the Lexus line-up for various elements — GS, IS Coupe and ISF sedan for example all contributed bits and pieces to the vehicle.
The result is stunning, arguably the most wellrounded Lexus in the line-up.
Apart from lacking rear leg room, there ain’t much to criticise here.
Our test car was in stealth black and the electric blue is even more striking.
RC350 boasts the Lexus family spindle grille at the front and notch rear styling with a succession of swooping curves along its flanks.
Inside there’s a touch pad command controller, a large multi-purpose screen and the quickest Bluetooth hook-up we have experienced.
From behind the driver’s seat the RC350 offers plenty of engagement if you choose to drive in a sporty vein.
Choose to cruise and it’s just as handy with numerous driver assist and aid functions to make the car almost drive itself.
A long-distance tour would be a joy in this car but so is punting it on a winding road.
It has four drive modes each with its own calibrations — Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ with the third option the best for all round driving.
Assisting the car’s dynamic competence is adaptive suspension, which reads how it is being driven and driving conditions, adjusting itself accordingly.
The same applies to the steering, which has variable gearing.
Put it this way, the RC350 Sport Luxury (and the F-Sport for that matter) is a really handy tool in a wide range of driving applications.
The double wishbone suspension soaks up the bumps, doesn’t deflect when it does encounter them and delivers a composed ride. The brakes are up to the task as well.
Love it ... the look inside and out, performance (0-100km/h in 6.3 sec), can drink a bit at 9.4 litres/100km.
But hey, it’s a sweet thing to drive and behold — 4 ½ stars out of five.