Lexus RC350 F Sport Coupe road test review

Front side view of a silver Lexus RC350 F Sport Coupe car in motion on a country road

Greg Hill

Posted February 29, 2020


Greg Hill takes the 2019 upgraded Lexus RC350 F Sport coupe for a belated test drive.

As Japan’s premier luxury brand Lexus has always had a slightly conservative image. The stylish two-door, four-seat RC350 coupe added a more emotionally charged appeal to the line-up when it was introduced here in 2014, and subtle refinements in the updated 2019 model have revitalised its appeal. 

Changes as part of the minor facelift include refreshed bumpers and grille, redesigned LED headlamps, new exterior mirrors and redesigned alloy wheels, along with minor interior changes that smarten up the appearance, while added equipment enhances the safety and on-road ability.

Thumbs up

First-class build quality and finish. Provides a comfortable ride with secure handling. Driving modes noticeably change car’s character.

Thumbs down

Some controls can be a little fiddly. Space in the rear is limited.

Rear side view of a silver Lexus RC350 F Sport Coupe car parked on a country road

 

The Lexus RC range starts with the RC300 Luxury which is powered by a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine at $66,147 plus on-road costs, with the more sharply dressed RC300 F Sport V6, which we drove, topping the line at $77,529 plus on-road costs. For those wanting a hard-edged, higher-performance sports coupe, Lexus also has the V8-powered RC F starting from $147,648 drive-away.

The RC models have not yet been ANCAP rated but come with a comprehensive suite of safety features including eight airbags, autonomous emergency braking, pre-collision safety system with pedestrian detection and a pop-up bonnet to help absorb impact, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.  The RC350 variants (the F Sport and Luxury grade) also have adaptive variable suspension.

In typical Lexus fashion, the build quality and finish of our test car was first-class. As a medium-size sporting coupe, the cockpit-style layout is cosy and comfortable with good leg and head room for those in the front, but it’s a very different story for two adults occupying the sculpted rear seats. While there’s a premium sporting appeal to the dash and controls, it doesn’t have quite the wow factor or functionality of a few of its younger but slightly pricier European rivals.

Getting in and out is easier than in many two-door sporting coupes, but can still be awkward.

As the top-of-the-line variant, the RC350 F Sport is generously equipped with 19-inch F Sport alloy wheels, 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio, powered sports front seats, satellite navigation and active cruise control. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have also been added since the upgrade.

 

Front view of a silver Lexus RC350 F Sport Coupe car driving along a country road

 

Lexus Australia describes the RC as a Grand Tourer, and after spending a few days behind the wheel of the RC350 F Sport, that’s a fair summation. Despite the sleek, low-riding coupe’s muscular sporting look, the RC’s focus is on elegance and refinement with a capable, well-mannered feel. The driving experience is more comfortable, responsive cruising than breathtaking exhilaration.

That said, scrolling through the four drive modes does change the character of the car noticeably. Selecting the Sport+ mode injects a lot more vigour and sharpens up the dynamics.

The RC350 F Sport’s free-revving 3.5-litre, direct-injected, naturally aspirated V6 petrol engine produces a very handy 232kW of power at 6600rpm, with peak torque of 380Nm at 4800rpm. Drive is then delivered to the rear wheels via a slick-changing eight-speed automatic and limited-slip differential. It’s a silky-smooth, well-proven combination.

It has variable ratio steering on the front wheels and Lexus Dynamic Rear Steering, which provides a form of four-wheel steer and gives the car a precise, nimble feel. Changing the shock absorbers and stiffer suspension bushings have also contributed to the comfortably firm, well-controlled ride quality and sharp handling.

Lexus’ four-year, 100,000-kilometre warranty is better than most other luxury brands but still falls short of the five or seven years’ cover most mainstream models offer. Capped-price servicing has recently been introduced by Lexus.

 


The verdict

A comfortable cruiser with a refined touch of sporting ability, rather than a hard-edged race-bred machine.

 

Lexus RC350 F Sport Coupe

Pricing

Price: $77,529 plus $8,106 on-road costs.
Model range: $66,174 to $77,529 plus on-road costs.

Drivetrain

3.5-litre V6, eight-speed auto, rear-wheel drive.
Max. Power: 232kW@6600rpm.
Max. Torque: 380Nm@4800rpm.
Wheels: 235/40 R19.

Fuel

95 RON, 66-litre tank.
Consumption: 12.9 litres/100km (RACV test); 9.4 litres/100km (government test).
Emissions: 217 g/km CO2.

Standard safety

Not yet tested, eight airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert.

Standard features

Active cruise control, satellite navigation, rain-sensing wipers, power front seat and steering column adjustment, rear-view camera, acceleration sound control.

Warranty/servicing

48-month/100,000-kilometre warranty. 12-month/15,000-kilometre servicing.


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