May 23, 2019




I drive and rate LEXUS RC 350 F Sport

2018 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

2019 LEXUS RC350 F Sport Overview

LEXUS, and mother company, Toyota, said they no longer wanted to make cars that were boring.

Havne’t they done well? They’d rather polarise a jaded public, than bore them rigid as they had in the past. New LEXUS models have all sorts of creases, lines, and folds, to move the eye over the voluptuous bodies. Little diamonds give viewers a rest and admire, before moving on to the next jewel, and there are certainly plenty of those.

LEXUS launched RC Coupes 5 years ago with a lusty V6. It was joined the year after by the RC200t, a frugal 2.0L turbo 4, which was later renamed RC300. With 2 trim levels, Luxury, and F Sport, the range is short and sweet, very sweet.

In 2018, the range was sent off to surgery for a nip and tuck. Although subtle, the facelift made the previous car look a trifle jowly.

2019 LEXUS RC350 F Sport Exterior

2018 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

LEXUS put its money where it really counts, into the look.

RC’s hourglass grille now has complex lines forming a diamond pattern. Headlights are LED and stacked like jewels in an engagement ring. They’re dusk sensing, and with a light pattern that changes shape automatically so the high beam never blinds on-comers.

New 19” wheels on our range-topping F Sport makes the muscular coupe look both chunky, and fast, like the drawings we did on our books at school. Under the doors, a body kit flares out in a wind-cheating flourish.

LED tail lights are emphasised by a new black surround, with indicators nestled under a blackened lense. The entire rear end is deeply carved as if someone took to the clay model with a scalpel. The bumper’s lower valance is decorated with reflectors, chromed exhaust tips, and a diffuser. Final interest is added by a couple of blackened vents that look like they’ve been nicked from a fighter jet.

Doorhandles conceal the smart lock system under a small divot in its leading edge.

RC350 looks like a Transformer that got distracted halfway through his metamorphosis.

There are seven exterior colours for the Luxury variants, including the new Sparkling Meteor (blue). F Sport has nine colours, including four which are exclusive. They are: Lava Mica, Zinnia Yellow, Cobalt Mica and White Nova.

2019 LEXUS RC350 F Sport Interior

The cabin drips with every conceivable luxury. Everything you see and touch is either beautiful, or useful.

2018 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

2018 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

Luxury variants have four trim colours, two are new – ochre and dark rose. On F Sport, three of the four trim options are new: F Sport Flare Red, F Sport Black/Tuscan Sun (yellow) and F Sport White.

Butter-soft leather is is perforated on the front seats to allow for both heating and cooling. No longer will you burn your bum on hot days, or get frost bite on those chilly winter nights.

Knee pads either side of the centre console were made just a little higher. The surround on the audio and climate controls got a brushed treatment that looks classy, and very expensive. Dual Climate controls have a unique touch slide control. A couple of discrete raised lines of chrome, one either side of the temperature readouts, are used by sliding your finger up and down. It’s all very Star Trek.

F Sport scores the excellent Mark Levinson sound system. It’s made by the Harmon group which owns Harmon Kardon, Bang and Olufsen, and JBL. Harmon is, in turn, owned by Korean giant, Samsung.

A new clock is borrowed from the LC Coupe, sits in the vent array just below the LCD screen.

Also new, is the diamond-patterned Naguri aluminium trim on dash and doors. It is so sensual that you want to stroke it while sitting at traffic lights.

Controls for F Sport’s drive modes, gear selector, and infotainment rest on the centre console. Infotainment, fettled via the track pad, is awkward and is something LEXUS has to fix if it is to compete with BMW, Mercedes and Audi. As it stands, making changes on the move is fraught with 50 shades trouble. You get used to it in a Stockholm Syndrome kind of way.

Ergonomics are good.

Someone actually sat in this cabin prior to being unleashed on the public. They’ve made sure everything can be reached without creasing your dinner suit. That’s more than we can say about some car makers. Steering wheel controls are easy to use, including Active Cruise Control located on a stalk just below the indicators. Newer LEXUS cars have this on the steering wheel proper.

Rear seats fold down 60/40 to make the 423L boot incredibly flexible. Rear legroom is another story. Back seats are mainly decorative as they are in most small coupes. Kids may stand half a chance of being happy in the back, but adults would need to cleave of body parts they hadn’t yet finished with.

The view from the front seats is good, but reversing would inflict all sort of bother were it not for the rear-view cameras. Strangely, there is no automated parking. LEXUS says their buyers don’t want it, but that is just bollocks. It’s nice to have even if you never use it.

LED Cabin lighting saves power, and keeps nerves from being frayed when bulbs give out at the least convenient time.

Storage includes a couple of cup holders. There are smallish door pockets, but no bottle holders. The glove box, is glove size.

2019 LEXUS RC350 F Sport Features/Technology

LEXUS persists with the horrible user interface for the otherwise brilliant infotainment system. It could be improved by positioning the 10.3” LCD where it could be made a touch screen. There is no carplay/Android Auto, but you can still stream music by Bluetooth or USB.

The menu system is complex and could certainly benefit from a thoughtful review. Nothing should be more than 2 clicks away. Some items see the driver attacking the track pad like a demented Woodpecker.

If you’re not the type who enjoys voices in your head, the lady in the dash will have you pulling your hair out. First a loud “Avon-Lady”-like BING BONG sounds. Then she warns you of everything from accident black spots, to speed and redlight cameras. She does the same thing in school zones whether the kids are there, or it’s Saturday. The only way to shut her up is to mute all voice from the Navigation system, with the obvious drawbacks that brings. The fact that her voice is calm is meant to be reassuring, but it just makes you want to hit your head on the dash.

It would be churlish of me not to mention the Mark Levinson sound system again. It is simply delicious. Most Harmon brands are fabulous, but Levinson adds a richness that would turn a concert hall green with envy. It has a surround sound feature which you can tune to suit just the driver, or all passengers.

Driver instruments have a moveable ring laid over an 8” LCD virtual dash. It looks good but is so unnecessary. I’d rather an LCD screen like Tesla or Audi. If you’re spending this much dosh, a driver should be able to have things just so.

2019 LEXUS RC350 F Sport Engine and Drivetrain

The 3.5L engine is a bit long in the tooth. Despite its age, it has not fallen in to decrepitude. Tweaks here and there see fuel consumption at 9.3L/100k. We achieved 7.8L/100k with no special effort. Yes, there was a bit of highway work, but mainly city chores. We did a frisky stint through the Royal national should have seen that figure north of 10L/100k.

I’ve no doubt the beautifully designed 8 speed automatic has much to do with it. Changes are quick, and liven up even more in sports modes. A trained ear might be fooled in to thinking a double-clutch auto has been slipped in when no one was looking. Revs cut between changes like they do in racing cars. It is a stunning bit of kit.

You will sprint to 100 in 6.3 seconds which is no mean feat for a 1740kgs coupe. The 3.5 litre V6 petrol has Direct Injection and Dual VVT-i. It puts out an impressive 232kW of power at 6,600rpm, and 380Nm of torque at 4,800rpm. It does all this without having air forced down its throat by a turbo, which makes it even more impressive.

Ride has been firmed up somewhat, but is still luxuriously smooth especially on the open road. F Sport adds adaptive suspension which changes personality with drive modes. Likewise, engine and transmission Jekyll-and-Hyde themselves into a frenzy at the twist of a knob.

RC 350 F Sport is a coupe of many moods. It goes from a lazy, loping gait, to a determined trot, then a frantic gallop. You can programme your own personal mix into the computer. You can have light steering, but a frisky throttle. I personally loathe harsh ride. I choose easy steering and suspension mixed with enthusiastic throttle.

Electronic nannies change their moods too, but you always feel like they’re watching over you.

2019 LEXUS RC350 F Sport Driving Experience

It had been ages since I last drove a RC350. Since then, the facelift brought a fistful of fab upgrades.

Suspension changes are as mentioned, but even in normal mode, there is a reassuring that is never uncomfortable.

4 wheel steering makes for near psychic cornering.

Although steering feels direct, it is not as “connected” to the road as a Mazda MX5 or Toyota 86. It takes a short while to get used to the feeling but once you do, it is joyous.

RC 350 F Sport sits flat in corners. Jumping on the super-sharp brakes can make your face peel off, and like the steering, takes a few goes to get used to.

The engine sounds nice during a sprint, but much of the noise is fake. I don’t like fake noise. I want the sound to come from the engine and exhaust, not from men in white coats. It leaves me with the feeling of being cheated, so in the bin with it.

You hear the odd clunk from the low-profile tyres on the goat tracks masquerading as roads in New South Wales, but it is never annoying. Highway speeds are fairly quiet, but again, the coarse chip surfaces can be a little intrusive noise-wise.

Rear seats are useless to it will be just you and a friend on board most of the time which is just as well.

Performance is brilliant. The 8 speed automatic changes like a dual-clutch setup. Sports modes bring even sharper changes. At all times changes are smooth, and very quick.

RC is understated in many ways. It makes you feel like a king as all LEXUS cars do.

2018 Lexus RC 350 F Sport

2019 LEXUS RC350 F Sport Safety

LEXUS lavished all its latest safety accoutrements on RC. Of course, there is emergency braking. It sees what’s going on in front and throws out the anchors of it doesn’t like what it sees. Whether on foot or on a bike, RC will try to stop.

There are systems to apply maximum braking if the computer senses your foot has shifted from the accelerator to the brake fast. It then applies maximum effort to the brake peddle.

Not only that, sensors are looking all around the perimeter for objects approaching. If it detects something in your blind spot it will warn you with a light in the side mirror. If you try to change lanes, it will then flash faster and if you persist, the RC’s will gently apply a little torque to the steering wheel. It will do anything it can to help a driver avoid hitting another car.

The system watches the lane markings and if you stray without using the indicator, it vibrates the steering wheel and applies pressure to keep you as near to the centre of the lane as it can. The system is perfect and you certainly can’t take your hands off the wheel.

Air bags, will deploy if all else fails.

Finally, a reversing camera displays a live video feed in the centre display. Lines predict the path to help guide you in to a tight spot. You’ll get millimetre precision too.

2019 LEXUS RC350 F Sport Fit for Purpose

RC 350 is a 2+2 sports car. It isn’t designed for 4 full-sized adults for long journeys. You can squeeze a diminutive friend or two in the back, but they’re going to have to be very close friends.

RC is made to be a comfortable tourer. The boot will take a decent load, and it is easy to park.

You can cross the country as easily as you could cross town.

2019 LEXUS RC350 F Sport Summary

The metalwork is just gorgeous and the cabin drips with luxury. RC Coupes provide a reliable alternative to the Germans. The look isn’t for everyone, but it is an escape from the ubiquity and blandness of most inner-city car parks.

It has performance and economy for a reasonable price, and has Toyota’s reputation for longevity.

As if all that wasn’t enough, 4 wheel steering knocks the socks off the opposition.

Also Look At:-

The Good: (three and only three points)

  • Sexy exterior
  • Stylish and tasteful cabin
  • Unobtrusive technology

The Not so Good (three and only three points)

  • No HUD
  • No CarPlay
  • Old fashioned foot operated parking brake

2019 LEXUS RC350 F Sport Details

  • Model Price from $77,500 MLP*
  • Engine 3.5L V6 cylinder Petrol
  • Drivetrain 8 speed automatic
  • Power 232kW @6,600rpm
  • Torque 380Nm @ 4,800rpm
  • Safety not tested
  • CO2 217g/km
  • Economy ADR 9.4L/100k
  • 0-100KMH 6.3 Seconds
  • Warranty 4 Yrs. / 100,000 km (includes: roadside assist, collection for servicing, or loan car)

*MLP – Manufacturers List Price includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of any options.







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