A new version of the Lexus RC luxury sports coupe has made its debut in South Africa in exclusive F Sport guise. Since its local introduction in 2015, the RC has spearheaded Lexus’ commitment to delivering a more emotional quality in the driving experience provided by its vehicles, with its sporty appearance and versatile driving character.
The fresh new RC 350 F Sport retains all the virtues of what RC is renowned for, but takes them to a higher level by adopting the latest evolution of Lexus’ signature design language and sharpened driving dynamics inspired by the brand’s flagship luxury coupe, the LC.
The exterior styling remains as sporty as the preceding model, but subtle changes in the details, inspired by Lexus LC design cues, imbue it with a new-found elegance. Inside the cabin, everything from the high-quality materials to the precise layout of controls and gauges has been crafted to maximise driving pleasure.
Enhancements have also been made to the RC 350 F Sport’s aerodynamics, tyres and suspension with concomitant improvements to engine response and steering feel, all of which reflect the ‘sharper and more refined’ drive philosophy that was introduced by the LC. This new RC is more stable than ever under a wide variety of driving conditions.
This provides a high level of driver confidence and a reassuringly flat ride quality, making the RC an ideal grand tourer, whether you’re negotiating a twisty mountain road or simply making a long-distance commute on the open highway.
Exterior Design Language
Lexus designers sought to maintain the RC’s dynamic coupe proportions, while adding a high level of elegance to the exterior. Key to achieving this was the addition of distinctive design elements, such as a new front bumper design – the accentuated corners flow down from the headlamps. There is also a new grille mesh pattern comprising shapes which gradually transform from top to bottom, creating intriguing visual tension. The vertical arrangement of the ‘micro’ triple LED headlamps and new L-shaped LED Daytime Running Lights add to the car’s more distinguished appearance.
Moving to the rear, air ducts have been added to the corners of the rear bumper, resulting in better handling stability and enhanced overall driving response. A wider stance and lower centre of gravity reflect the RC’s heightened ability to maintain grip in varied road conditions. The rear combination lamps now house more pronounced L-shaped lenses that are a new signature design feature for Lexus coupes.
Ten different exterior colours are available in the RC, including Naples Yellow and Poseidon Blue, shades which perfectly communicate the car’s dynamic nature. The rest of the line-up includes White Nova, Sonic Titanium, Solar Storm Red and Graphite Black. Brand new to Lexus RC are Lava Orange, Mercury Grey, Black and Sparkling Meteor.
The new RC 350 F Sport many other custom exterior and interior items that are exclusive to F Sport. These include powerfully-styled 19-inch alloy wheels, featuring a striking 10-spoke design finished in a dark premium metallic hue.
Driving pleasure heightened by interior refinements
A brushed treatment has been applied to the heater control and audio panels, generating a higher sense of quality, while the cushioned knee pads on either side of the centre console have been made larger and raised higher, creating a greater sense of space in the front of the cabin. The driver’s palm rest has been reshaped and a stitching pattern has been added to the surface, showcasing the designer’s close attention to detail.
A new analogue clock, identical to the one in the LC, sits high on the instrument panel in another identifying feature of Lexus coupes- other small details include newly designed and ergonomically-defined cup holders.
Interior trim colours include Black, Flare Red, White and Mustard – the latter features subtle yellow accents on a black background.
Engine and Transmission
The 3.5-litre Lexus dual-injection 2GR-FKS V6 in the Lexus RC 350 F Sport delivers a rare, charismatic concoction of power, torque and responsiveness for a thoroughly engaging driving experience. This engine has been proven in Lexus models around the world and meets driver expectations for responsive acceleration.
This powerplant features intelligent dual variable valve timing (VVT-i) for inlet and exhaust camshafts, an intelligent electronic throttle and the Lexus D-4S system of direct and port fuel injection. The quad cam V6 engine has two petrol injection systems, including high-pressure direct injection.
Lexus designed the all-alloy 60-degree V6 for a combination of high performance, fuel efficiency, package efficiency, reliability and serviceability, coupled with light-weight, low NVH and low emissions.
It delivers 232kW of power at 6600rpm and 380Nm of torque at 4800rpm, equating to a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6,3 seconds, topped off by a maximum speed of 230km/h.
It produces fuel economy figures of 9.4-litres/100km combined, CO2emissions of 217g/kmand is Euro-5 compliant.
The 2GR-FKS engine is matched to an eight-speed transmission with M Mode, allowing full torque-converter lock-up from second to eighth gears. The eight internal ratios have been chosen to balance the needs of sports driving and fuel economy – with a low first gear ratio for initial acceleration, closely spaced ratios in the intermediate gears for performance and urban-driving economy, and a tall eighth-gear ratio for motorway economy.
The torque converter has a long-travel damper to boost fuel economy and reduce NVH during lock-up. The transmission can be used in D (automatic) or M mode, which has full torque-converter lock-up from second to eighth gears for ‘clutchless’ manual shifting, utilising steering paddle shifts if preferred.
Down changes in M mode are made in just 0.2 of a second, with the transmission’s throttle blipping control matching the engine speed to the gear. In addition, the RC F Sport transmission is linked to the Lexus Drive Mode Select function, with its ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and SPORT S+ settings. NORMAL mode provides the fuel economy and seamless acceleration traditionally associated with a Lexus electronically-controlled transmission. It uses the eight ratios for optimum fuel economy, while coordinating control with the throttle to provide smooth acceleration with minimum feeling of gear changes.
SPORT and SPORT S+ modes include newly adopted G-sensor AI-Shift Control, which uses information from the G-sensor on driving status to provide the optimal gear ratio for performance driving. The system selects the suitable gear for sporting driving by monitoring the status of the vehicle’s G-sensor, with shifting selection biased towards the lower gears to draw out the full potential of the 3.5-litre engine. The transmission uses G-sensor information to automatically downshift during hard braking to set up for a corner, hold a lower gear through the corner for greater control, and then give the driver a greater power response on corner exit by selecting a suitably low gear.
While on the subject of Drive Mode Select, modes can be adjusted via the circular knob beside the gear selector and instrumentation changes colour to reflect the selected mode. In addition to controlling throttle opening and engine output control, SPORT S+ optimises chassis elements including Variable Gear Ratio Steering and Adaptive Variable Suspension output to provide RC’s most dynamic and focused driving experience.
The Lexus RC 350 F Sport retails for R939 100. The RC model also boasts a Lexus best-in-class, 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan as well as a Lexus Distance Plan Complete. The vehicleservice intervals are at every 15 000km, alternatively once a year.